Why I'm a Champion
I live with anxiety and Schizophrenia and prior to joining Time to Change I had spent a lot of time working in Mental Health but, hiding my own condition. If I’m honest I became a champion online one day on a bit of a whim. I didn’t really know much about Time to Change or have any idea where this would take me. But I am so grateful I took that chance.
I started by volunteering at Essex and Colchester Pride. I had conversations with members of the public and shared some of my own lived experience to try and reduce the stigma around mental health issues. I thoroughly enjoyed it, felt well supported and it was a great opportunity to meet new people and speak about mental health. It was a lot of fun and a real confidence boost.
Speaking to the Police
Inspired by another Champion who was doing talks for the armed forces and supported by my local Time to Change coordinator, Yvonne, I set out to speak to the Police. To my surprise I was offered the opportunity to speak not at the local station but to the Metropolitan Police at New Scotland Yard. I was nervous but excited.
This history behind this is that I was sectioned a couple of years ago. At what should have been one of the lowest moments of my life one of the police officers enforcing my stay in the Accident and Emergency Department sat beside me and sang me ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen. It completely changed my experience and gave me hope that things would get better. It was such a small act but one that made such a difference.
My message to the Police was simple. You don’t need a specialist training or a lot of resources to make a huge difference to someone at the point of crisis and I included just a small clip of the soundtrack from ‘Let it Go’.
Approximately 80 people attended my talk, by far the biggest crowd I have ever spoken to. My nerves definitely showed but I received such amazing support and a great reception. I was even invited back to speak to another group of Police. The police officers that spoke to me afterwards said how important it was to them to hear someone speaking positively about the police, how moved they were and how it helped to change their perception of mental illness.
Organising Time to Talk day at my work
I organised a Mental Health conference at my place of work for Time to Talk Day. I wouldn’t have believed you if you had told me I would organise and speak at such a conference prior to joining Time to Change. But I am so, so proud of what we collectively achieved.
The feedback after the event and the honest conversations it began in my workplace was just incredible. One person described it as the ‘best workplace wellbeing event I have attended’. They stated that there was ‘no politely skirting round the issues, no magic solutions, just listening deeply to other human beings describing their lived experience of mental illness’.
What I've gained from being a Champion
- Speaking out was a huge step for me as it gave me the opportunity to finally give something back and to do something that I would never normally do.
- Just being involved increased my confidence exponentially and helped me to accept my own story.
- It has made me more able to communicate my own needs around my mental health and I am so, so proud of the fact that I achieving this.
- It has been something that I have mentioned at job interviews with a great response; showing that Time to Change can improve your skill set as well. It gives you experiences that can benefit your own life, not just other people’s.