September 7, 2017

Time to Change Champion Garrick campaigns to change mental health attitudes in the Wirrel

My name is Garrick; I currently live in Wirral, part of Liverpool city. Although I have lived here for over 25 years, I am not a native of this region; my UK roots are from South London. However, my original roots are from Jamaica; land of sunshine, reggae and Jerk – just one of many exotic dishes found on this island!

My working background is rooted in social justice, community development, regeneration of black history and education. I like to work with people and strongly believe in equality and social justice. In many ways, my professional and social life are intrinsically linked to education, social justice and mental health campaigning.

I became involved in the Time to Change campaign within the last two years, when Liverpool became one the pilot Hub areas. Since then, I became a Time to Change Champion, initially for Liverpool, and now I have established a new Time to Change Champion Hub in Birkenhead Wirral.

My motivation is very much about fighting discrimination and stigma. For many years I have worked tirelessly in equality and diversity, both in the public and private, and voluntary and community sectors.

I am particularly interested in raising awareness for black and racial minorities, i.e. people from African-Caribbean backgrounds, as mental health problems are high among people of African heritage. Smoking marijuana/weed is common in black cultures and often impacts on individuals and families. This is one of the main drivers for my involvement with Time to Change and Rethink. I want to help raise awareness of mental health and its impact on people and society.

My charity work with the Cultural Diversity Network gives me access to a wide variety of networks, both locally and regionally. I have good links with housing providers, community health, NHS, business sectors, charities, media radio and television. I regularly do radio interviews about my campaign work. During the election, I was able to raise the subject of mental health and the lack of support with North West politicians during a debate in Manchester.

I use every opportunity to participle in local events, festivals and community events to raise awareness of wellbeing and mental health, using a holistic approach rather than speaking directly about the subject. Starting conversations with people is the first step to get people talking. I avoid using the words ‘mental health’ initially. I get people talking first, gain their trust, then go on to speak about wellbeing and health. I let people open up and then slowly talk about stigma and discrimination. I personally find it easier and more effectives to follow this informal approach.

Birkenhead Champion group is new and we have already established ourselves, having done a number of presentations to various organisations and community groups. The most recent event took place on 19 August; a mental health event organised by Mencap in Birkenhead Park, Wirral. Among our new Champions are people from the military, who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from being in wars. We try to move around each month, to help develop further community links and to get to know what each group does.

Mental health and wellbeing is challenging, not just for individuals and families, but also for communities and society in general. I endorse that Time to Change conversations change lives – conversation is the first step for help and support.

Read more personal stories >

Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.