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Championing Positive Mental Health In Cumbria

By Chris Wood, 06 September 2017 – 0 comment

 

 

Mental Health is real. it’s not going anywhere. We do need to address it. We do need to talk about it and we do need to break down the stigma surrounding it. Stigma and discrimination arise from fear and as Yoda says - “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering."

To face our fears and let them into our lives is courageous and the power of conversation, education and information is paramount to living in a forward thinking society that accepts mental health as a basic human right. It can no longer be dismissed, side lined, hushed and locked away. The bird is out the cage and it’s time to sing.

As a #timetochange champion I pledge to speak openly and honestly about my mental health on a regular basis to encourage close ones to do the same. My work is not done until everybody is talking about mental health and wellbeing in a relaxed, honest and open way.

To me, this means integrating conversation into everyday life - at home, school, college, university, at work, in the local coffee shop and on social media. (I see you all grimace at the thought and I'm noticing my ‘facebook friends’ not so interactive when I post about serious matters surrounding mental health but flock in their treble figures for a good selfie. It is this level of discomfort that presses me to keep going. “Get comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s how you break the plateau and reach that next level.” - Chalene Johnson

I want to be part of a society that helps one another to rise - not fall with ignorance. I want to be a champion that challenges stigma with kindness, faces judgment with compassion and to help change perceptions and attitudes. Damn, I want to change the world!

My lived experience of mental health started way back as a young child. I was either very confident - almost over confident in social/peer situations or very self-conscious and shy. I dealt with this using plain old avoidance. I would physically remove myself from the group with an air of arrogance and coolness to disguise the overwhelming feeling of not fitting in and disconnect.

There was nobody to talk to about these feelings, no one to validate that everything was ok and would be ok and this heightened my feelings of isolation and sadness further. I would look around as a young child and see that everyone else was getting on just fine, they didn’t appear to have crippling low self-esteem and confidence issues, they were much better socially skilled than I, better dressed, had more money, lived in nicer houses - and so the comparing began and I would do this for most of my adult life.

As a kid I was surrounded by stigma growing up on a council estate - racism, violence, poverty, physical illness and addiction were all rife - but no-one and I mean no-one ever talked about mental health unless it was to finger point at the  'nutter' who was walking the streets fresh out the 'funny farm.' This is the kind of stigma that I'm on a mission to challenge so watch out!

If there had been help and open conversations growing up about how to overcome feelings and emotions and positive advice on how to boost your own mental health I feel my silent battle wouldn’t have hit the crisis points that it did. So for these reasons, I truly believe in Time to Change and everything it stands for and will do everything in my power to pro-actively do my bit to make sure no child growing up faces these struggles alone. I want to empower children, young people, teenagers, adults and OAP’s to find their voice and most importantly teach society that it is OK to not be OK. Help is at hand.

If you would like to find out more about Time to Change and what we do hit the link here https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

Our next Champions meeting is September 20, 2017 at the Crown and Mitre Hotel, Carlisle, 6-7:30 pm. Anyone over 18 with an interest in joining the movement or a desire to find out more you're more than welcome to come along. Just ask for Sara or Caroline at reception. 

 

Thank you.

Sara x

 

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