Alastair's Blog

Return to:  Blog | Articles | Videos RSS feed

It was the internet wot won it

Posted on 15 May 2009 | 10:05am

Many thanks for all the kind messages last night after Mind announced (on Twitter) that I was the mental health charity’s Champion of the Year. 

Judging by the sheer volume of messages on Facebook, I think Jane Appleton’s
FB group supporting me had an effect.

Also I was told last night that when previous Champion Stephen Fry tweeted
that he had voted for me there was a sudden upsurge in voting. I suppose if
even a fraction of half a million Twitter followers took his lead that must
have had an effect, though it also led at the time to a few ‘anyone but AC’
messages and votes.

Anyway a vlog on proceedings will go up in due course
but for now a few points about last night’s event in London. Several speakers,
not just me but Mind president Melvyn Bragg and chief executive Paul Farmer,
spoke of the feeling we were close to a tipping point in terms of people’s
greater understanding and society’s greater openness about mental illness.

There is still too much stigma. There is still too much discrimination and
people who suffer mental distress often say the discrimination is worse than
the symptoms. But things are improving. Both Melvyn and Paul said they felt
change was happening more quickly than we realised.

I spoke of the way the film Milk brilliantly captured the progress of the
struggle for gay rights. There was no single point at which the struggle was
won. It was a movement. Change came slowly, then accelerated and then suddenly
it was clear the change had come.

I feel something similar happening in mental health campaigning and I am
pleased and proud that people think my novel, my BBC film on my breakdown and
depression
, and the role I played with Stephen and Ruby Wax in fronting the
Time to Change campaign, may have played a part in that.

There were five nominees last night and it was all a bit ‘night at the Oscars’
as the citations were read and the winner announced.

I did not do a Kate Winslet but I did tell the story of how my
fifteen-year-old daughter Grace, who has said all her life she will be a famous
actress one day, said to Fiona in one of those mother-daughter nuclear
explosions that brighten up our lives from time to time, “talk to me like
that again and I won’t mention you in my first BAFTA acceptance
speech.”

I mentioned both of them last night, and the rest of the family, as they are
the most important factors in my health and happiness (with Burnley FC not far
behind). But above all the event was a celebration of the fantastic work Mind
and other mental health charities do, and a look forward to how they build on
that work in the future.

Mental health is likely to come up at the conference
I am speaking at today in Scotland, a gathering of social workers.
I scribbled my speech on the sleeper from Euston, drawing heavily on my eulogy
to social workers, and some of your comments, which appeared here on March 12
.

A rude awakening though when the steward brought in tea and orange juice
at seven, with a copy of The Scotsman and another screaming

front page Labour
expenses crisis headline.

I said in that March 12 blog that compared with social workers, MPs had an
easy ride from the media. Now I’m not so sure.

  • mikey

    gl)ratulacja wujek ali { congratulations uncle ?Ali } so are you taking me to Wembley ??????????????????????

  • Geoff Huggins

    Interesting perspective. There are some tricky issues here though. Taking a step back, we need to think about the multiple objectives here. For many people what we want is for them to have good mental health throughout their lives – accepting that there will be bumps along the way, we don’t want to suck them into the illness system or a way of thinking of themselves as ill. (Ultimately I think that is a key danger of the Layard approach – see what is happening in Australia where they have already taken the therapising line as a first response). Many people who have mental health problems at some point in their life – the one in four – get better without intervention. Some people do need something more and therapies and other interventions are helpful. Other people, with more severe illnesses require more intensive treatments and support, but can and do also live productive lives. But I think we too easily mix up and confuse these different objectives and populations in the discourse with the consequence that people are quick to place themselves on the illness spectrum, but without the skills or ability to do something about it – a rather unempowering mental health literacy. So the challenge goes beyond developing understanding to developing capability.

    Anyway this is what we have been doing in Scotland…

    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/271822/0081031.pdf

  • Rebecca King

    Congratulations again, will look forward to the vlog

  • Hanane Khales

    Hi Mr. Campbell,

    I am from Morocco. I am 26. I am a Communication Manager in a Foundation. I suffered from depression several times. Last time (it was last year), I stopped medication when I realized they are the cause of my disease. By the way, I lose my previous job in a known telecom company because of my depression.
    I am trying to get your novel “All in Mind”, to read it.
    I respect your career and admire your personnality. I’d like to keep in touch with you if you permit it?

  • Alison STead

    If your daughter pursues her passions with the same energy and conviction you have brought to yours, she will be winning Oscars not just Baftas. i hope this is just the beginning for you on the mental health front. And please please go back and rescue Gordon and the government. I saw Roccoe Forte the businessman saying it all went wrong when you left and he is right

  • Marje

    Can’t you get Stephen twittering for Labour too?

  • gary Enefer

    Dear AC

    I feel you have found your niche,not only now, but for your future and have found a way to also put food on the table(with public speaking/charity efforts).

    I often see calls on this blog for you to return to Govt and help. I sometimes feel you are the answer to Gordon Brown’s problems too. Wouldn’t it be a good idea for you to definitely call it a day on this issue? For you own health and sanity?

  • Jamie de Rooy

    “Many thanks for all the kind messages last night after Mind announced (on Twitter) that I was the mental health charity’s Champion of the Year.”
    Well, let’s face it, it wasn’t going to be Draper was it?
    Well done though.

  • gary Enefer

    Apparently,and I’ve jsut heard this, Tory MP Julie Kirkbride has said of her husband Andrew Mckay who was sacked yesterday ”has some explaining to do”.

    He kept his dodgy exes claim from her whilst using her flat for them.

    oh s…t!

  • Trevor Malcolm, Portsmouth Hampshire

    ========================================

    As the media unveiled the Mind Awards for 2009, until now respected novelist, Mr Alastair Campbell, but henceforth, better known as Mind Champion

    You’re fun, like ABBA now, winning the mental healthcare equivalent of the 1974 Swedish entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, congratulations

    The Mind contest concluded, votes cast and counted, result announced and welcomed, … unanimous. The verdict must’ve been unanimous

    Although I did hear Mind assembled such an outstandingly high calibre line-up of quality nominations, it meant some pie-throwers favoured the other runners n riders, sadly

    For example, according to reliable rumour, both your partner Fiona Millar and daughter Grace had fun voting in favour of the others nominated, bless them

    That took guts, girls, top marks

    But it still means Daddy’s come first/won something important again, like the 2007 Leukaemia Bikeathon, first place

    Initial impressions of the new champ include, as dear Larry Grayson, former host of the Generation Game, would’ve observed, that …

    ” … you seems like a nice boy …”

    And all that extra support from online friends, must’ve helped steer your campaign to a convincing victory, I’m sure

    Therefore, I propose a champagne toast all round. To the New Mind Champion

    (Nope, dear Supporter, you were meant to have clapped vigorously there, please. Show some respect. Raise your pint, lads)

    At least – at last – something worth celebrating amid all the troubled doom n gloom elsewhere out there

    One killjoy proviso, folks. For those of you who wish to celebrate the Mind triumph, by imbibing alcohol. Please do remember the gentleman’s birthday is only 10 days away now

    So, do give yourselves enough lag-time to sober up abit. Otherwise, next Friday, you’ll find you still feel too legless when you’re expected to stand up and toast the future health and happiness of the Birthday Boy’s “coming of age” – aged 52, that will be

    A proud event for Keighley exiles, down South. Grand and inspiring to hoist up somebody charitable and magnanimous, to show callow hoodies what tough Taliban stuff us Yorkshire Boycott buggers are made of, chuck

    Job well done, soldier Campbell. And worth me sending another donation to help swell the Leukaemia Research coffers

    Blessed be, AC

    From Trevor Malcolm, (alias National Mind Member 2122166, of long-standing), who genuinely DOES appreciate the value of your contribution and dedication, sir

    ================================================

  • Habiba

    Speaking up about your breakdown is key. The ability to overome the grinding sense of shame which can immobilize us – and insist that you are still worthy of contributing to public life is critical.You show that there is a way of reclaiming civic responsibility for those who have suffered in their lives – when I attempted the same it was an immense and lonely struggle. Yet I still feel it is easier for a man to return to public office than it is for a woman to do so.

    I thank your efforts in this regard incredibly moving and if there is some way of working together to progress this issue, sign me up.