On 10 October 2022, we celebrate World Mental Health Day around the theme of “making mental health a global priority for all” – a very important and ambitious goal.
But unless you’re a policy maker or work in politics, it can sometimes feel that, as individuals, we have little power to bring about meaningful change and truly make mental health a priority for all. However, there are many smaller ways in which you can make a difference as an individual at local level. Change is rarely brought about by one person alone, but collectively we can move mountains.
To inspire you to create change, we’ve come up with 10 achievable ways you can make mental health a priority!
Watch our video and read the blog below for more details:
- Be open about your own mental health. The more honest we are about how we truly feel, the more we invite others to be open about how they truly feel too. It helps to challenge stigma and show others that, well, it’s ok not to be ok! You don’t just have to tell others when you’re having a bad day, it also helps to share when you’re feeling better and what helped you to feel better so your loved ones know how to support you next time you are having a tough spell.
- Show your loved ones you care about their mental health. Ask your friends, your family, your neighbours (and even strangers) how they are and wait to hear their answer before you answer or before you walk away. If you feel they are saying they are fine when they are not, ask them again or say:” Are you sure? I’m here if you need to talk!”
- Mind your words when talking about mental health. The words we use bear a lot of meaning and sadly stigma. Being called or calling yourself “crazy” or “a little bit OCD” as a joke isn’t funny to everyone and can diminish the reality or seriousness of someone’s condition. Instead be specific in the words you choose and use kinder words.
- Share your mental health story. Whether it’s simply a post on social media, or a blog, a vlog (video blog), a song, a poem or a piece of art, expressing yourself can be the key to getting better. You may also inspire someone else going through a similar situation to do the same or not feel alone in how they are feeling. At MFT, we love to share your written pieces, videos or artwork and can coach you if you don’t know where to begin. Email Connie, our Communications Lead, at email@example.com or visit our blogs library.
- Become a mental health champion with mental health anti-stigma and discrimination campaign, Time to Change Surrey / End Stigma Surrey. Mental health champions use their lived experience of mental health as a way to educate others, challenge stigma and bring about better awareness of mental health. This can be done by speaking at public events, talking to the media, blogging etc. To find out more about how you could become a mental health champion and receive free training, please visit the End Stigma Surrey website.
- Share your views and lived experience. Having experienced mental health issues is a powerful asset that you can harness to advise and support others with similar struggles. We’re lucky to live in a time when service users’ experience and co-production are recognised as a great way of working and there are a flurry of engagement opportunities to share your views or lived experience, so do take those on! Whenever you see a survey that asks for your opinion on mental health provision or services do take the chance to say what you think. It might feel like there is a new survey every day but it only takes 5 minutes to complete and can have meaningful impact. If you don’t take part, your views won’t be taken into account! Another way to share your lived experience is to apply for jobs that have “lived experience” as part of their job titles – this means you will be asked to use your valuable experience to support others, turning what some might see as a negative into a huge positive! Do check our vacancy page regularly for those roles or watch Lily’s video, our SUN Facilitator with Lived Experience from our AGM.
- Join an Advisory Group. Another way to use your lived experience of mental health in a meaningful way is to join an Advisory Group, our own or another! Advisory Groups are there to help shape the way mental health services are delivered, review them and challenge providers to meet the needs of the people who use the services. You can read more about the work of our Advisory Group on our website. If you would prefer to influence decisions by mental health services commissioners, you might want to consider joining the Surrey Independent Mental Health Network.
- Write to your local MP about mental health needs in your community. Your local MP is the person who was elected to represent you and your community in parliament as well as hold the government to account. They must make adequate provision to listen to your views and by speaking to them, you help them to understand why they should represent your views. Check the Centre for Mental Health website for practical tips on how to talk to your MP about mental health.
- Sign petitions that demand changes to mental health services. If your mental health needs aren’t met, chances are you are not the only one! A petition will have already been started by someone and you can decide to add your support to their petitions. The more signatures, the better the chance of success. Visit the Petitions section of the Goverment’s website for a list of all mental health petitions.
- Start your own mental health campaign. Sometimes your story is the one that has the power to issue change and leading your own campaign can be the project that motivates you to carry on. Rethink Mental Illness have a wonderful campaigning guide which explains all the steps to kickstarting your own campaign. Download the guide.
We want to hear from you!
Can you think of any more achievable ways to make mental health a priority? Or have you done something that had an impact on mental health stigma that you’d like to shout about? We’d love to hear about it! Contact Connie, our Communications Lead, at firstname.lastname@example.org