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Location: Midlands Art Centre Birmingham

Monday 23rd March 2015

Time to Change is a national campaign aimed at challenging stigma and discrimination whilst raising awareness around mental health. The campaign is run by Mind and Rethink Mental illness and is one of the most prominent anti-stigma campaigns in the UK.

My Day…

The sun was out smiling and the skies were blue, it was the perfect atmosphere for the ##TimeToChange event.

I have been involved with to the ##TimeToChange campaign for exactly a year, the initiative uses a variety of mediums to get the conversation started around mental health. Each area in the UK has a set of champions who will use mental health promotion skills to attend, create events and also get involved with the various social initiatives throughout the year. The campaign has been a great stepping stone for me in speaking out about my lived experiences, but also as a tool to help others find the right support and to keep the nation talking.

The day was organised in three parts, an introduction which charted the timeline of ##TimeToChange it looked at the various campaigns the teams had been up to it celebrated certain successes and it gave the champions drive to continue to achieve more. Keith Weinstein was our “Doctor Who” and talked us through the timeline- whilst hopping in and out of the fluorescent blue Tardis; he certainly brought a lot of character to the story! The auditorium was filled with laughter and admiration and a general feeling of unity.

After a lovely spread of lunch and networking we had a choice of one hour workshops we could attend- I chose the Emotional Resilience Workshop- The workshop aimed to highlight emotional resilience in everyday life. It was interesting to explore how we looked at things, our sense of perspective and how we could move forward in terms of developing the skills and confidence for challenges that occur in our daily life.

It was refreshing to bounce ideas off in a room where people felt safe to admit to their struggles, we wanted to explore ways to spring back emotionally after a challenge, and also look at the tools which enable us to adapt to stressful situations.

How do we develop the attitude to build our emotional resilience?

The main principles we discussed were how to become emotionally aware of your triggers, both positive and negative ones. There was an intense discussion around developing an “internal locus of control” this meant creating an internal operating system that focused on cultivating optimism, rallying your social support network, maintaining a sense of humour and balancing a healthy lifestyle. It also unfolded key factors such as being patient with yourself and having the courage to allow yourself to be imperfect, to encourage mindfulness and to take part in the daily practice of self-nurturing and compassion. Recognising your vulnerability and limitations could also help in building up your resilience to certain situations that may arise in your daily life.

The workshop was informative, interactive and engaging and again the sense of being in a room with people who had a similar mindset and were there for the same cause was really uplifting.

The event drew to a close and ended with “The Big Conversation” in the auditorium. There was a heightened sense of energy, many people in the room were fuelled with optimism for the future of the campaign and it was a great way to get people together to brainstorm. We needed to look at the steps #TimeToChange Champions needed to take to encourage more activities. As a group we wanted to work more with local communities and local charities, we wanted to create a peer support network for people in the campaign, so we could access other champions in the UK and utilise the wide breadth of skills we have as a network.

There was a great tag line a team of champions coined which represented how they felt about #TimeToChange as a campaign: “If we don’t talk, who else will?” The tag line inspired me as it summarised what led me to become an advocate for #TimeToChange, by speaking out and raising awareness we can, in time, challenge stigma and change perceptions and stereotypes.

It was fantastic event because #TimeToChange is leading the way for peer support internationally and Time to Change is an original concept which is grounded and centred on a community of people who have the same focus. We want to work collaboratively with local communities and charities, especial local Minds and Rethink, we want to embrace all forms of media and also utilise all the skills that we have as a network.

To volunteer with #TimeToChange or become a champion go to: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/take-action

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