Funding has been pulled from Time to Change, in the middle of a pandemic that is having a very real impact on our community mental health. Stigma is a dangerous barrier to help for anyone, a serious hindrance to community cohesion, and certainly an obstruction to compassion.
Time to Change will push to integrate their work within the missions of the charities Mind and Rethink in it's last months, this is a good plan B, but I can't help worrying. Time To Change speak openly about the attitude changes that have not yet been made, for example, the impact of mental health stigma on those from black and ethnic minority communities, and those who have experiences which have been labelled as 'schizophrenia'.
We do talk about mental health more than we used to, but I'm worried about what message this defunding sends: that how we see others with mental health difficulties is not important anymore? That voicing about lived experience no longer gets the platform? That our community doesn't have a responsibility to think about how we all talk about and treat each other? I am concerned that this is another signal in the wider scene that mental health is not being attended to properly as we navigate this pandemic, there was struggle enough pre-pandemic. If community mental health is not safeguarded, we've got little indeed. Maybe you only really know the importance of this if you've been through it? Was there any effort to discuss at least?
Certainly not all ends are achieved by shoving the mission of one company into another, however aligned. It does feel like any merging would be a reaction to sudden defunding, rather than being born from a considered and informed need which creates a new way of doing things better. Why does this resound with some of the very same issues that too often hamstring the NHS and local authorities: 'transformation' in mental health as a necesssary response to stripped resourcing? Thats not transformation, that is destruction. Some things need targeted and specific platforms. Stigma is a powerful enemy of progress here and Time To Change has a very important voicing task.
Whilst all budgets are stretched, de-funding this cornerstone of mental health work certainly feels short-sighted right now, it shows a lack of understanding of how important it is to keep targeting the insidious silencing of mental health stigma. People sharing stories and being helped to integrate good practice into businesses and communities is vital to keep mental health from being swept into shadowy corners. Shadowy corners? It goes there because there is still fear and misunderstanding of mental health difficulties. It can be frightening to experience mental health difficulties, frightening to see loved ones experience them, and frightening for workplaces to see their workforce in pain and know what to do or how to help. If we aren't helped to work with this fear, we are wont as humans to avoid what we find painful and struggle to understand. It is not difficult to understand how this then becomes societal avoidance of those people who are most in need of help through crises.
I can't help but think about what happens in a good team when we have a 'man down' (apols for sustaining a patriarchal term), but we all step up and help carry. Time To Change was a buddy of ours at in2gr8mentalhealth, we fight hard alongside these wider campaigns to destigmatise lived experience of mental health difficulties in our mental health providers and have it indeed valued. So, we say, please continue to do what you can in your corner of the world and we will certainly continue in ours. It really is for all of us. We are all human tgether and community is the most powerful force for good.
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