Being chosen as a Voice of Mind, campaigning with the charity MIND to put mental health at the heart of the general election debate, has been a real privilege.
I really wanted to get involved in the campaign so that I could help raise awareness of mental health issues, reduce stigma surrounding those who have a mental health illness and get people talking. Also, it was important to be part of this drive to get politicians from all parties to understand just what is needed by the next government to ensure that mental health issues are not just swept under the carpet, but rather given the attention, resources and funding required to tackle them.
It’s been a busy year – there was the fun part – meeting and bonding with the other Voices of Mind, having our photos taken, sharing our experiences which although sometimes painful seemed to make us stronger as a unit. Each and every Voice of Mind has contributed in some unique way…
As part of the campaign I had a short film made about my illness and the importance of good mental health and wellbeing, I’ve blogged about various things close to my heart to do with mental health, been very active on social media to promote the campaign, I’ve met my local MP at Westminster, spoken at the Mental Health APPG session and subsequently been at the launch of the report with Jeremy Hunt speaking, heard politicians talk about their poignant and powerful stories to do with their own personal illnesses, collected signatures for the petition, distributed the MIND Manifesto to everyone I know (and lots of people I didn’t know!), spoken on local radio about mindfulness, depression and the need for more funding for mental health services, and been involved in a roundtable mental health discussion for The Huffington Post as they look at important issues that need to be discussed pre-election.
Phew! That’s quite a list.
On a personal level I’ve met some wonderful people. Firstly, my fellow Voices of Mind who have turned out to be brave, kind, strong people – and with whom I have enjoyed spending time – fighting for this important, common cause. And then, the staff at MIND who are so committed and dedicated to ensuring better mental health care for everyone in the UK. All these people have been truly inspiring – and I am blessed to have met them. To each and everyone of them I want to say “Thank you for coming into my life”.
I look back on this year – and my one hope is that I have made a difference. I know collectively as a group the Voices of Mind have made a difference. There is definitely a feeling in the air that change is happening – and people are talking about mental health more and more. It is on the agenda. No longer is it being ignored, but rather it is finally being understood and taken seriously by policymakers, politicians and medical professionals.
The tide is turning – and I am so proud and privileged to have been part of this ground-breaking and important time for us in our continuing fight to champion good mental health provision in the UK.