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Posts Tagged ‘#discrimination’

Time To Change: My Pledge

November 12, 2014 13 comments

Time To Talk

You may not have heard of the Time To Change initiative, which is led by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, two of the leading mental health organisations in the UK, and is funded by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the National Lottery.

Time to Change began seven years ago and is England’s biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination. It aims to start a conversation – or thousands of conversations – about aspects of mental health, to help people become more comfortable talking about it. They have a range of activities in progress, which you can read about here on their website. There is also plenty of useful information there, so it is well worth a visit. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and if you use the hashtag for their campaign – #TimeToTalk – you should see what people are saying and doing.

Estimates usually suggest that around one in four people will experience some form of mental illness during their lifetime, and that 90% of these are likely to experience discrimination. It is commonplace in our culture: witness the large furore last year when Asda and Tesco sold ‘mental patient’ costumes for Halloween. They may not have done this again this year but plenty of others did. I don’t recall seeing any ‘cancer patient’ or ‘irritable bowel patient’ costumes though. Use of words like ‘mental’ and ‘nutter’ is also frequent, and whilst most of us have the ability to bypass this there are some to whom it is acutely hurtful.

In Time To Change’s words: You don’t need to be an expert to talk about mental health or to be there for someone experiencing a mental health problem. Small actions, like sending a text, chatting over a cuppa, or giving them a call to find out how they are can really make a big difference and show someone that you care.

I know from my own experience that when I was off sick for nine months with depression calls from friends were always very welcome. I hope I’ve been able to help others too, either directly or, via this blog, indirectly. Time To Change have a Pledge Wall, to which over 70,000 people have pinned their own pledge to help fight against stigmatisation and discrimination against Pledgedmental illness. I have made my pledge, and if there isn’t anyone in my life who needs my support I can always blog about it, can’t I? So, please take a moment to think about this. Do you know someone who would appreciate a chat with you, however brief, and would welcome someone who asks ‘how are you?’ and wants to know the answer? Even if you can’t do that right now, you can still make your pledge on the Wall. There are plenty of ways of having that conversation and who knows, it might one day be you who needs the chat.

PS I know this is very much aimed at readers on this side of the Atlantic, but the issues addressed by Time To Change are universal. So please check what is available where you live. In the USA, for example, there is the Stand Up For Mental Health campaign. Their logo is at the top of this site: you should be able to click on it to be taken to healthyplace.com but if it doesn’t work click here.

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Twelfth Night, or, What You Will

January 6, 2013 9 comments
Seems appropriate!

Twelfth Night Bullies – seems appropriate!

Hello again. I hope 2013 is being kind to you so far, and will continue to be. Today is Twelfth Night, the day by which it is traditional to take down the Christmas decorations to avoid bad luck. I took mine down yesterday – does that mean I’m safe? At least I haven’t been beset with partridges, other feathered creatures or assorted dancers  for the past few days, so I guess it could be worse. The closest I’ve got to the Twelve Days of Christmas is the iTunes freebies giveaway of that name, But even that had its moments – yesterday it was a video of One Direction, and there was I thinking you had to be 13 to have an iTunes account. Age, that is, not IQ.

My reason for bothering you today is that I’m going to ask a favour of you, before the period of goodwill to all is officially over. As Bill the Bard put it, ‘Twelfth Night, or What You Will’ – so, out of the kindness of your heart I’m ‘Willing’ you to help me. Yes, I know that sets me up for the ‘Contrived Link of the Year’ Award, but I’ve had worse in my time!

After my last post, I was thinking about what I’d said on mockery and abuse, and how that happens in many different ways. I looked – as usual – at Twitter and found a few comments/jokes which were, at first sight, sometimes witty or funny. But underlying them was an insensitivity towards those who might suffer from the ‘affliction’ which was being joked about. I’d be the first to accept that I’m probably more sensitive since I was ill, but I’d like to think that is towards others as well as just about myself. To give you an example of what I thought might be hurtful to some: on one day there were a couple of the #hashtag games about older people, one on songs and the other on movies. Many of these were quite clever and amusing, at a superficial level. But they all relied on stereotypical views of older people which some would find offensive: they forget things, they smell, they are incontinent, they dribble and are messy, that sort of thing. Alright, these all may be true of what happens to us as we get older, but should we be mocking them? They can’t help it, can they? So I thought it might be an idea to do a follow up piece showing a few instances of how discrimination underpins a lot of what we say and do, either by accident or design. I won’t be naming and shaming anyone, I just want to show some examples to set my words around.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to please let me have some stories to work from. Everything will be anonymised, I don’t intend to break any confidences or reveal my sources! It doesn’t matter where they come from, whether it be Twitter, Facebook or even real life! All contributions will be very welcome, and I hope to be making something from them soon. You can either get in touch via Twitter (DM if you would like total anonymity!) or via the comments box. All comments are moderated before they go public, so nothing will be revealed if you don’t want it to be. Thank you in anticipation of your help, and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Oh, one final thought. If any One Direction fans think my comment was mocking, abusive or discriminatory in any way please accept my apologies. But you really should try listening to real music!

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