Being a volunteer for change in mental health

A little tricky knowing what to call this one, yet I figured I would give some insight into what comes out of the volunteering I do.
Today in particular was a day meeting/workshop for a particular project called 'DIY Futures'.
This project is embracing the idea of helping people to take charge of their life, by helping people to take control of managing anything to do with improving their own health. This is done by providing as much information as possible on how to do that, while offering support to people in going to different places and contacting people, as well as acting on their behalf where necessary.
This is particularly useful for people with mental health problems, where a lot of the time people are not really being listened to when going to established mental health services about what would actually help them get better and remain that way.
Today in the getting together, there were people from DIY, some people from other different organizations connected to this project in some way, and people who use the current mental health services (like myself). The theme was about how we could get more people actively involved in shaping how this project could be ultimately realised, whether it be from more people volunteering or creating new job roles to employ people.
It's becoming more apparent now that if we're to improve how people with mental health problems get help, it's got to start with informing people and making people aware of how big an issue mental health is in all aspects of our lives. The running statistic here in the UK is still that 1 in 4 people will at some point seek help for mental distress in their lives, and some people think that this could even apply to everyone. The other thing that starts to become clear, is that it's not just about people who are severely effected by mental health that need to be helped, it's people who have no clue what it means to go through the more extreme experiences, and how common that is in our neighbourhoods and communities, etc.
It's becoming more about awareness, and how beyond the labels and diagnosis, there are experiences that a vast majority of people share without ever seeing anyone to get help for it. It just isn't talked about enough, and the stigma is created where people are not simply being told how it is to live with these problems. There's little in the way of a platform to share these experiences comfortably and safely.
It's going to take something radical. It's going to take some rebels who are willing to kick up a fuss and start to ask big questions out in the open.
I'm looking to be one of these people, yet this idea of being in a 'special group' isn't going to cut it. It has to involve everyone and exclude no one. It's got to be mass education and awareness about what is affecting us all, on all levels. While mental health is a theme for me, it is still interconnected to physical well being and dare I say, emotional or spiritual well being.
Anyway, I hope that gives some sort of idea of just one thing I volunteer my time to. At some point I'll get around to talking about my involvement with visiting Psychiatric hospitals.

Replies

Community LeaderSunCloudJD
SunCloudJD

This sounds like a wonderful project Lee.. I used to volunteer for the Mood Disorder Assoc. in Canada and much of it was spent on stopping the stigma, education etc.. I was a public speaker there and we went from talking to police in training to schools, hospitals and it was good.. sounds like a very interesting project
LeeWatmough
LeeWatmough

More people doing what you have done is truly needed Jan. This is just one organisation looking to do their part, so hopefully through more contact with other groups the brainstorming can start to take form.