In these stories, some of our young volunteers talk about their own experience of being part of the Time to Change campaign. The areas that they have volunteered in vary from being a part of our Young Peoples Panel to helping out at some of our events.

Find out more about our opportunities for young people >>

Christian

ChristianTell us a bit about what your role as a Time to Change Young People’s Panel member involves
My role involves providing advice and guidance in consultation with Time to Change’s staff team, sharing best practice and highlighting new or existing approaches for practitioners to implement effective service to children and young people.

Why did you decide to get involved with Time to Change?
I decided to get involved due to the stigma and discrimination many affected by mental health face on a day-to-day basis, which is a taboo in today’s society that needs to be addressed. Especially when I discovered my own mental health at 21 years old, I knew as a male there is an even bigger challenge of feeling vulnerable and reserved to seek help. So I joined after being inspired when I heard about Time to Change’s vision to break the silence and campaign this message across the nation.

What have you enjoyed most about being on the Time to Change Young People’s Panel so far?
I’ve enjoyed that I am in a group of many young people from across the whole country, who get the opportunity to voice their opinions and make a real difference to the direction of the focus for children and young people.

What do you get up to when you’re not helping Time to Change?
I work with children and young people within my career and study a part-time Youth Work degree at the University of Brighton.

What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future is to work as professional youth worker and be an activist for raising awareness around mental health especially amongst children and young people. Years from now I hope to one day start up my own charity working with young people around addressing the early signs of mental health, so that it is tackled in a preventative approach to ensure it is not left till crisis situation for someone to feel they need support.

Do you have a message for young people experiencing mental health problems?
My message to any young people facing mental health is to confide in your family and close friends, as you may fear for the worst but I’m certain they will understand and support you through your struggle.

Do you have a message friends and family or professionals supporting a young person with a mental health problem?
Mental health is an ever growing issue in our society with one in four people facing it in this country in their lifetime. As a friend, family member or professional do not leave a young person to their own devices, because even a slight disconnection can be detrimental to a young persons conditions becoming worse.

Both friends and family can really encourage the young person to get engaged by being outgoing, experiencing new adventures, partaking in various social groups and enjoying happy fun-filled memories together.

Particularly my advice for professionals within the health sector is it’s important to not just prescribe medication every time you have a young person come through the doors of your service, as even just a conversation can be enough to make a real difference for that young person.

Dominique

DominiqueHow did you hear about Time to Change?
My sister knew I was suffering from mental health problems and told me to attend one of the Village’s as at this time I had to little to no support in regards to these issues.

Why did you want to get involved?
I wanted to meet people who had similar issues to me, and also I wanted to help people who felt isolated and had nowhere to turn. Furthermore, I saw this as a great opportunity for self-development.

What have you done for us?
I have attended villages, delivered my personal testimony, had my personal testimony recorded, took part in questionnaires and interviews as well as having my picture taken for one of the campaigns.

Have you enjoyed volunteering? If so, what have you enjoyed?
I have loved working with Time to Change. Getting the opportunity to meet people with different experiences, along with, helping individuals who I have come in contact with has been the highlight of my experience with TTC.

What advice can you give to new volunteers?
Ensure that you make the most of your time with TTC. If you need any support ask, as the members of staff are always willing to help you. Take any opportunity for Training, as you do not only learn about TTC but you learn about yourself.

Emma

EmmaHow did you hear about Time to Change?
Through the Rethink Mental Illness website

Why did you want to get involved?
Because of my own experience of mental illness & how discrimination has affected me. Also the fact that it was specifically local to where I live.

What have you down for us?
I became an involvement worker, attended meetings as part of the TTC youth panel, volunteered at pop up villages and also wrote a blog giving my opinion of “failed by the NHS” on BBC3.

Have you enjoyed volunteering? If so, what have you enjoyed?
I have loved it! It hasn’t been easy though, and it has been emotional. Feeling that I’ve made a difference to people’s lives is the best part. But from training to be an involvement worker I have made some fantastic close friends too.

What advice can you give to new volunteers?
Try everything! Get involved with all different projects that Time to Change offers. Take it seriously, but enjoy it.

Any other comments:
I’ve enjoyed volunteering so much. It has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. Having people come up to me at events and say thank you for what I’ve done makes my struggles with mental illness worth it. Also, all the people I’ve met who work for TTC and Rethink have been amazing and so supportive.

Eva

EvaHow did you hear about Time to Change?
I heard about Time To Change through another organisation for young people that I am apart of, Young NCB. After seeing an opportunity to volunteer with the charity, I decided it was something I really wanted to be apart of and I immediately applied.

Why did you want to get involved?
I got involved with the charity because I wanted to make a difference and help end stigma and discrimination against mental health problems. Throughout my life so far I have seen those that are close to me (who are sufferers) receive a great deal of abuse due to the stigma around the topic. Therefore I got involved to help raise awareness on the topic.

What have you down for us?
I have been volunteering for Time To Change for 2 years now and I have taken part in a couple of things. Firstly I competed in a local Jack Petchy Speak Out challenge for my borough and I spoke about the stigma around mental health and my charity work with Time To Change. Also I put together a short VT for the BBC school news report about the charity and the work we do. In addition I participated in a photo shoot for Re-think poster campaign.

Have you enjoyed volunteering? If so, what have you enjoyed?
Volunteering with Time To Change has been an amazing experience not only because of the opportunities I have had but mainly the people I have had them with. I have never met so many down to earth and inspirational characters that are willing to give up their time for a good cause. I thoroughly enjoy working with everyone and being a part of the team because I have learned a lot from these wonderful characters and I have taken part in once in life time opportunities.

What advice can you give to new volunteers?
The advice I would give to new volunteers is to be yourself. As the youngest member of the panel I was frightened of what others opinions would be of me. But as soon as I entered the building everyone greeted me with a warm smile and I realised there was no need to be afraid.

Sandra

SandraHow did you hear about Time to Change?
2 years ago I saw the advert that Time to Change was showing on TV. It was the one about the guy returning back to work and it stuck with me because it was the only thing I’d seen about mental health on TV.

Why did you want to get involved?
I decided to get involved with Time to Change when I attended a village they held in Southbank. After going around the village and speaking to people who were volunteering, I really wanted to be part of the campaign and be around people who had similar experiences to me.

What have you done for us?
Since joining Time to Change, I have volunteered at a village in Birmingham, participated in leadership and media training. I am also an involvement worker for Time to Change, which is the most rewarding of all! It involves me telling my personal journey of my mental health journey.

Have you enjoyed volunteering? If so, what have you enjoyed?
I have LOVED volunteering for Time to Change! It gave me so much confidence and that’s something I can never thank the people involved in the charity enough for. I’ve enjoyed meeting so many different people, from different backgrounds with mental illnesses and not feeling completely alone. Volunteering for Time to Change really helped me to shape how I felt about my illness and gave me the courage to speak out.

What advice can you give to new volunteers?
It’s natural to be scared! When I did my first village speaking to the public I was frightened! But it does get easier and it’s fun! I really encourage you to volunteer for Time to Change because it’s incredibly rewarding and you’ll meet so many inspirational people. Being part of the Time to Change movement is really incredible and we’re only getting bigger and better!

Elinor

ElinorWhen I read about Time To Change, I was excited to find a campaign devoted to reducing the stigma around mental health problems, especially because it focuses on young people. I come from a family with a history of mental health problems, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and dementia and so I have always been aware of the difficulties posed by mental health issues – not just on the sufferers but also the carers.

I spent the majority of my teenage years supporting my best friend, who suffered from severe clinical depression and have seen her struggle with her illness and the impact it has had on her family. It is only within the last year that she has been able to get access to the help that she has so desperately needed and is for now doing well. It struck me how stigma is not only felt by those who observe mental illness, but also those who suffer from it. I believe one of the greatest barriers to sufferers of mental illness is the inability to reach out and ask for help. With an illness such as depression, where sufferers enter a loop of helplessness and despair, it is our responsibility to make seeking support from professionals the norm – something that isn’t a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. This symbolises the stigma around such mental health issues – I strongly believe that we need to create a way of thinking which makes seeking, for example, counselling for depression as normal as seeking an oncologist for cancer. I think that it is also important to highlight that the same illness may affect different people in a different way– mental health illnesses are diverse in their symptoms and effects. The complexity of mental health issues is something not well understood by the broader general public, and, in order to break down the stigma surrounding mental health illness then we need to help educate them.

I am currently in the process of finishing my A Levels at Bexhill College and have developed my knowledge of mental health problems through the syllabus within A Level Psychology. Despite already having known a reasonable amount about mental health issues through personal experience, it wasn’t until I began studying it at college that I really understood the many different sides, particularly the biological aspects. I think this is one of the things that most people tend to ignore about mental illness, believing that because it is based on thoughts and emotions, it’s almost ‘not real’. If we are to fully inform people and break down the levels of discrimination sufferers of mental illness experience, I believe this is one of the aspects that must be emphasised.

My enthusiasm for Psychology has flourished in the last two years at college and I have decided that I want to progress into a career within Clinical Psychology. I have applied to study at Sussex University next year, taking an undergraduate course in Psychology. In the long term I wish to take a ‘PGDip’ or ‘PGClin’ in Clinical Psychology so that I can become a practitioner, helping sufferers of mental illness through the use of psychological therapies such as CBT. To achieve this I must also have experience working in mental health and research development settings showing my interest for the area. I hope that involvement in the ‘Time To Change’ Project can be one of the first steps towards this.

Emma 

Why are you involved (as a leader) with Time to Change?

I have been involved with Time to Change for about a year as a Champion, Young Ambassador and Co-Involvement Worker. I am 23 years old and have suffered from mental health problems since my teens. I wanted to get involved in this campaign for lots of reasons. I think it is important to raise awareness and talk about how we are feeling in an effort to break down the stigma attached to mental health. I didn't talk about my mental health problems to anyone when I was in education and it made me feel really alone. By getting involved as a Co-Involvement Worker, I have made new friends, developed my leadership skills and had the fantastic opportunity of chatting to young people about mental health. It is very empowering to help lead a campaign that can make such a difference on people's perceptions of mental health. I have grown in confidence when delivering my personal testimony and my involvement with the campaign has definitely helped my road to recovery. It is so important that we talk about how we are feeling and understand that it's ok to ask for help. 

I wish I'd had known about the campaign when I was at school and I definitely urge as many of you to get involved as possible! 

What kind of positive impact do you think a Time to Change campaign can have within a school / what kind of difference can it make?

Time to Change aims to start meaningful conversations by raising awareness with the three in four adults, and nine out of ten young people that don't suffer from mental health problems. Having a Time to Change campaign within a school is a wonderful opportunity to inspire young people and break down misguided stereotypes and preconceptions surrounding mental health. It is also a great opportunity to plan an activity, develop your communication skills and make new friends! 

Why do you think it's important that young people take the lead on this campaign?

An event that is run by fellow students is going to have an even more powerful impact than one led by teachers because it makes the issues raised more relatable to young people. Time to Change is based on the concept of social empowerment and it aims to equip volunteers with the skills and confidence to develop a whole array of exciting activities. As the future generation of leaders, it is important to start conversations about mental health from as early an age as possible. By running an event in your school, you can spark change for millions of young people who might be struggling in silence. It's definitely the time to talk about mental health.

 

Cara

I am involved with Time to Change because having experienced mental health problems since I was a young teenager, I understand the impact stigma and discrimination can have. I think the work this campaign does can make such a difference, by educating people and helping them to understand, and also by raising awareness. It helps people to find out the truth about mental health, and challenges the myths and misunderstandings that fuel discrimination. I think if there was a campaign around like this when I was at school, I wouldn't have felt so alone or afraid to speak up about what was going on. I believe it's important that young people lead on this campaign because it makes it more relatable, and we are maybe able to empathise and understand in a different way. Working with Time to Change has encouraged me to speak up and given me the confidence to share my story with others, and I love being a part of such an important cause.

 

Nicola 

Why are you involved (as a leader) with Time to Change?

I’m involved because I know how damaging the stigma and discrimination around mental health can be. When I heard that 9 out of 10 people find the stigma is worse than the illness, I knew I had to use my experiences to help and inspire others to speak out about mental illness.

 

What kind of positive impact do you think a Time to Change campaign can have within a school / what kind of difference can it make?

I know it will make a huge impact, just talking about it, is such a great thing, and go a long way to end the stigma around mental illness. When I was at my worst, my teachers and peers didn’t understand what I was going through, and the issue was never talked about. I believe if it was spoken about more openly in a safe environment such as a school, the amount of stigma that there is now would fade away.

 

Why do you think it’s important that young people take the lead on this campaign?

It’s important because in a school, it’s hard for young people to relate to teachers, but if young people can see someone of a similar age, saying “I’ve suffered with mental health problems, and that’s okay, it’s a human experience” they will be able to connect. Me being a young girl, I related and looked up to Demi Lovato, who is another young female who has experienced mental health problems and spoke about it to raise awareness, and I think more people need someone to be able to relate to.

 

Vithuja

The fear of people finding out and the fear of how people would react and at point they did react such was certainly hindered my recovery. For many years, life was about hiding this illness I had than dealing with it, which inevitably leaded to a collapse  and it all kind of exploded out. 

I remember seeing posters for Childline and thinking of all the problems someone could face as a child and receive support for, I think having mental health be part of a school environment would have the same effect, it would bring awareness of what people could go through and what help and support is available if they need it. I always thought that given I didn't have physical problems, I didn't have a problem and that stopped me seeking help. 

I'm involved because I recognise how important it is to be aware and open about mental health, young people are encouraged to be aware of and talk about sexual health, but not about mental health which I think deserves equal attention especially given the challenges that young people face growing up. If a lot of ill mental health is picked up on in the teen years, why isn't it something that everybody is aware of? That's why I want to be part of a movement which gives mental health the recognition it right fully deserves. 

I think it's so important that young people take a lead because you gotta have people that shape their generation and I think that's what we do, by being involved in the education of other young people we help shape a future which is more open to the idea of talking about mental health.