It’s 0430, I’m awake. Last time I looked at the clock it was 0105 so a comparatively successful nights sleep. Fitting perhaps that it’s World Mental Health Day (#WMHD).
In years gone by this would have had little impact on my life but this year it is different. It’s not because the Mental Health Discrimination Act was passed in February (fantastic though that was) – I guess because this year it’s personal. 2013 is the year that I opened up about my own mental health. Many of you reading this will be aware of the anonymous blog post I wrote at the start of the year. Still more of you will be aware of the event that Alison Chisnell and I organised after the response to that post – HR for MH. That’s certainly the reason why the two of us were invited to Parliament later today for a reception to mark WMHD.
Before I go to Parliament I’ve got a speaking engagement. Arising directly from the HR for MH event, I will be talking to staff at the National Archives. There’s plenty to discuss, be it Asda’s recent mistakes or the Sun newspaper whipping up hysteria by badly interpreting research but I’ve struggled to work out what I’m going to say. I tried to write a slide deck but it was too staged, too awkward and it didn’t even hold my interest so how could I expect it to hold a room? It was then that I realised it has to be personal.
And you know what? That’s still pretty scary for me.
Even now with 5 hours to go I still don’t know what I’m going to say. What I’m going to be comfortable revealing. I’m not sure how you condense the salient points of 20 years in to a 90 minute session. My whole pack for today is 9 cue cards, my pens and some blu-tack for the flipcharts I may or may not write depending on what I actually say.
I feel unprepared – and yet, I’m ready.
I’m ready because this is what it takes to change opinions. It needs people with direct experience to speak up and show the world that mental health patients aren’t dangerous, axe wielding maniacs, that we have loads to offer society and that with help and support we can live near normal lives.
There’s just one more thing we need – your help. So please, I ask you to visit Time to Change and pledge to help end stigma. Or maybe stop by Mind and see what you can do to help make your business a mentally healthy workplace – maybe even sign up for the upcoming webinars. (I’ll be guest appearing at the one on the 22nd October). Even just a simple tweet or two letting the world know you’re supporting #WMHD could encourage someone to speak up and get the help they deserve.