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Time to Change gathering momentum – big new names signing up on World Mental Health Day

Posted on 10 October 2013 | 7:10am

Every day seems to be something or other day, but when my ‘top tweet’ is from the United Nations no less, telling me today is ‘World Mental Health Day,’ I reckon it matters more than most.

As an ambassador for the Time To Change campaign, I will be joining staff and supporters of Mind and Rethink Mental Illness later for Parliament’s celebration of World Mental Health Day, where deputy PM Nick Clegg, who has been a strong supporter of Time to Change, will hopefully spell out the government’s continuing commitment.

Time to Change exists to try to change attitudes to mental health and mental illness so that we can break down the stigma and taboo that still attaches itself to this issue, and directly creates discrimination and violence against the mentally ill, whilst simultaneously fostering the myth that the mentally ill are more likely to be violent than the rest of the population.

If Time to Change did not exist, recent days have given us good examples of why it would need to be invented. First, Asda and Tesco selling their ‘mental patient’ halloween costumes, again making that ‘psycho killer’and ‘mad axeman’ link. Thankfully these were withdrawn from sale after a social media storm.

Then The Sun splashing with an ‘investigation’ numbering the murders committed by ‘mental patients.’ As many pointed out, there are far more murders committed by people they would presumably consider to be ‘normal.’ Then the paper made the utterly ludicrous claim that the reason I ‘whipped up a twitter storm’ (sweet that they think I still have power) was because I was trying to shackle those papers who criticise Labour leader Ed Miliband with the ‘state regulation’ they falsely claim was proposed by Lord Justice Leveson.

They might have noticed that I have been campaigning on these issues long before their phone-hacking colleagues and the Mail’s systematic and strategic mendaciousness about public life dragged British journalism to the gutter.

So back to World Mental Health Day. Part of the work we do is to visit companies and get them to commit to the Time to Change pledge as employers, and thereby commit to improving their own understanding of mental health, and their support for their staff’s mental health needs and well-being. We do this not from the touchy feely side of life, but from the hard-headed economic case that they invest so much in the training and salaries of their staff, so why would they put them at risk through risking their mental health, or write them off as so many do because of one episode of mental ill health.

In the past year or so, along with Sue Baker, Time to Change chief executive, Paul Farmer of Mind, and Paul Jenkins of Rethink Mental Illness, I reckon we have covered most of the big banks and financial services employers, and some have made real change for the better. I am particularly pleased about two major employers, one of them one of the most iconic institutions in the country, who are signing the Time to Change pledge later today. Stand by for that, and thanks to both for showing they get it.

All employers can sign up, and I urge you to visit the Time to Change website to find out more. In the meantime thanks to all who have supported the campaign so far and thanks in advance to those who will see and hear what is happening on World Mental Health Day, and join the growing campaign for better understanding, services and treatment for the mentally ill. Let’s hope Asda and Tesco are listening. Every little helps.

Ps … off to talk mental health, alcoholism and much else with Colin Murray on Talksport, 11am

  • Michele

    The problem’s huge and like jelly isn’t it and can seem restricting of vocabulary?

    Relations on one side of my family were prone to depression and attempts at suicide.

    We had a neighbour that most of us referred to as a ‘nutter’ as he was unfathomable. Hd’d made us so unwelcome when we moved in, he’d been waiting for the price to drop so that yet more of his relations could live around him and ‘own’ what he thought of as a private end of the road (and use double parking as a disincentive for whoever dared to use a space).

    Question re some of AC’s recent comments elsewhere ….. is labelling someone ‘small minded’ (re their unwillingness to prefer what someone else values as ‘the bigger picture’) more acceptable than labels like ‘nutter’?

  • Ehtch

    It is hard to tell who is the more mentally nutty at times Alistair, as depicted by political leaders at times, and also other so called leaders with influence, who you would think needed a session time on Freud’s couch. Take J. Edgar Hoover for instance, who was the main man for the FBI for decades, he was completely barking, bonkers he was – lots of strange things were going on in his head. Nixon, nuts, Truman, nuts, Reagan, nuts, dubious Bush Jnr., nuts, Thatcher, nuts – the list just goes on and on.

    So who is the ones mentally challenged at the end of the day? Seems to me the less nutty ones are the official nutty ones, like us.

  • reaguns

    Well I am slightly teed off that Alastair hasn’t posted my last post. Perhaps he will this one. I think there are perhaps sound legal reasons or reasons of “Its my website and I’ll post what I like” in that particular case, but it would be nice if he would acknowledge as much by printing this one – well AC?
    However despite my vitriol on other matters, I still think the work Alastair does for the mentally ill is highly commendable.
    Not so much in support of raising the alcohol price though – open minded but as yet unconvinced.

    • Michele

      Are you referring to the one about AC ‘debating McBride’?
      If so it is in place (along with my reply), perhaps you looked on the wrong blog?

  • JosefK

    Well I wish someone would get Home Office HR to sign up to this. I’ve been trying to get back to work now for weeks after a lengthy absence with MH problems but am continually being obstructed by a HR dept who are entirely unhelpful and who insist on placing obstacles in the way of my return.
    Their lack of support is not only keeping me from work but in terms of my health it is like they are poking a stick into an open wound, and simply re-creates the anxiety and depression that was the cause of the absence in the first place.
    Their attitudes to staff with MH issues needs a complete rethink. Please pay em a visit…

  • KrisInAustinTX

    I checked out the “Time to Change” website and was very impressed with the resources page. Even people with depression, those us who have “bad days and not so bad days,” can get involved with what tiny bit of mental energy we might have on a given day. Whoever came up with the strategies for changing attitudes about mental illness gets it.

  • KrisInAustinTX

    Mr. Campbell: It is my understanding that you moderate your blog’s comments. I hope this is true, as I have something I would love for you to write about: the Catch 22 of depression and “recovery.” (I use quotation marks as I have treatment-resistant depression and dysthymia, as you know, one doesn’t exactly recover.)

    I came across this article ten years ago and it remains the best information I’ve encountered on the insanity of depression and recovery (or attempting to recover).

    I would love to see what you can do with this concept, as you are one of my favorite modern day writers. (You’re up there with Glenn Greenwald.)

  • KrisInAustinTX

    No stigma. No special treatment. Just reality and realistic expectations. Am I asking for too much?