It has never been more important to look at our mental health and emotional wellbeing. The growing evidence of how the pandemic has affected and impacted our overall wellbeing meets the statistics around how many people are currently living with mental health issues*: together they are escalating our mental health crisis.
One of the biggest barriers to helping and supporting people is mental health stigma and discrimination. People experience stigma in the workplace, public services and even within their own family and social circles. Self-stigma is another factor. Given this reluctance in people to come forward and ask for help, many are struggling in silence.
Time to Change Surrey is a trusted campaign that raises awareness and reduces stigma around mental health. With the national Time to Change campaign ending in March 2021, local initiatives are vital to continue the aim to change perceptions, improve attitudes and behaviours, challenge and reduce stigma.
Rising to the challenge
A partnership of three leading Surrey based charities have been awarded the new contract for Time to Change Surrey by Surrey County Council / Public Health. Catalyst, Mary Frances Trust and Acting Out Productions (affiliated to Let’s Link charity) will build on the core elements of the campaign to date: the Lived Experience Champions’ (LECs) scheme and our highly immersive, impactful drama-based training.
Adding to those will be a range of new initiatives including: personal development support/training online and in person (national guidelines permitting) for people living directly or indirectly with mental health issues (carers, friends, family, colleagues) to enable them to speak openly about their own experiences and mental health generally; a lively digital and social media programme to promote key messages, events and activities; new drama-based training for the public, private and community sector; an anti-stigma toolkit and directory for everyone, to aid learning and action around mental health stigma / discrimination.
Maya Twardzicki, MH & Time to Change Surrey Commissioner Surrey County Council Public Health commented:
“We look forward to the Time to Change Surrey programme being taken forward by this partnership of established local providers.”
Statements from the partnership
Sue Murphy, CEO, Catalyst:
“Bringing together Surrey charities that have a shared vision, align and collaborate effectively will be instrumental in changing mental health conversations across Surrey. The pandemic is changing the way society evolves and having a huge impact on our mental health. It is for this reason the partnership will embed a culture of reducing mental health stigma and discrimination awareness for people through everyday discussions. Together there is a collective sense that mental wellbeing is everybody’s business and community assets should be harnessed to promote good mental health.”
Patrick Wolter, CEO, Mary Frances Trust:
“Campaigning for better awareness of mental health and breaking stigma have always been some of our key priorities as we need to be agents of change and bring about the culture shift we need in our society. We’re confident that through our close partnership with Catalyst and Acting Out Productions / Let’s Link, we can move forward the Time to Change Surrey agenda and open up important conversations about mental health.”
Megan Aspel, Director, Acting Out Productions and Let’s Link:
“Working in partnership means our efforts go further, wider and deeper into people’s thoughts and actions around emotional wellbeing and mental health. This is an exciting development for Time to Change Surrey – one that aims to instil in all of us a greater willingness to understand and reach out to our friends, neighbours, colleagues, fellow students and family who may be struggling right now.”
Notes to editors
Stigma and discrimination against people with mental health issues has a substantial public health impact, contributing to inequalities including: poor access to mental and physical healthcare; reduced life expectancy; exclusion from higher education and employment; increased risk of contact with criminal justice systems; victimization; poverty and homelessness. (Oxford Academic 2019 – Mental Health Stigma after a decade of (the national) Time To Change).
*Mental health issues represent the biggest single cause of disability in the UK, with one in four adults experiencing at least one diagnosable mental health condition in any given year.
Catalyst and Mary Frances Trust provide Community Connections mental health services in West, Mid and parts of East Surrey, including being a key part of the GP Integrated Mental Health Service – innovative work supporting mental health by working in GP services. Both charities are also influential in providing a wide range of adult mental health and wellbeing support and information to public and private sector organisations and the general population of the county.
Acting Out Productions /Let’s Link form a mental wellbeing charity that has run a wide range of projects over the years including Time to Change Surrey to date; developing a women’s mental health strategy and magazine and taking drama-based training to organisations across the UK. All three organisations work at a frontline and strategic level.
Time to Change Surrey is keen to forge positive relations with the Media across the county to help inspire the population of Surrey to learn more about and better understand the psychological issues that affect many people. The pandemic and lockdown have increased the number of people struggling with mental distress. We need to reach out to our friends, families, colleagues and diverse communities to help and support people’s emotional and mental wellbeing.
In the first instance please contact:
Megan Aspel – firstname.lastname@example.org or 07824 364703
(email / web page being updated)