There are a few people out there in the world who touch my heart and inspire me to do what I do.
I wanted to take this time to talk about them and to thank them for all that they do.
Matt is my absolute favourite author and the person who ultimately inspired me to start writing a book, which I hope one day to get published and to help even one person as much as his writing has helped me. He consistently challenges preconceived and damaging stereotypes around mental health, not just through his writing but through social media and interviews. I was lucky enough to meet him last year and I know people say you shouldn’t meet your heroes, but he was every bit as lovely as I’d hoped he would be. I can turn back to his writing time and time again in dark times and it will always be helpful to me.
I used to know Jameela as that lady off T4 and couldn’t tell you much more about her. I recently discovered The Good Place on Netflix which is great and you should totally watch it if you haven’t already; she is hilarious on it but that’s not why I love her. She seemed to suddenly burst on the scene out of nowhere as a body positive, feminist, mental health powerhouse and her ‘I Weigh’ movement has sparked a wave online of people of all ages, genders, shapes and sizes sharing everything they love about themselves that is not about their bodies. I love her for that.
Carrie spoke openly about her bipolar disorder throughout her career and that paved the way for others to be able to do the same. She did this in an era where mental illness was even more stigmatised than it is now, and she did so proudly and without fear of judgement or repercussions. Not only that, but her achievements show people that having a chronic mental illness does not always mean that you can’t be successful.
Poorna is an author and journalist who has turned her difficult experiences into something that I know has helped so many people. She has written a book ‘Chase the Rainbow’ about her late husband, and uses her voice and platform to raise awareness in a sensitive but passionate way. I was lucky enough to meet her last year and she’s every bit as lovely in real life as I thought she would be.
Stephen Fry is another person who has been loud and unashamed of his mental illness, and has shown that mental illness does not equal somebody who is dangerous or different. His books have helped me a lot over the years and his writing is brave, funny and poignant. I admire how open he has been about his struggles and how much he has done over the years to combat stigma and discrimiation.
Natasha is a writer and campaigner for body image and mental health awareness and has done some incredible work nationally on both of these topics. She is behind the Mental Health Media Charter which encourages factual and non-stigmatising reporting on mental health. She is making a huge difference and I look up to her a lot.
Sue is the global director of Time To Change, the campaign that changed my life. Working for this team has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I can put so many of my subsequent opportunities down to the experiences I’ve had through them, many of which have been provided to me by wonderful Joss, who is a ray of sunshine. Sue and every other human I’ve had the pleasure of working in this organisation continue to inspire me day in day out and I love them for that.
You guys, who come here and read my blog and are battling with your own mental health difficulties. Every single one of you is a huge inspiration to me and I wish I could tell you all individually how important you all are and how much I admire everybody who finds the strength in and around them to not only carry on when things get difficult, but to then use those experiences to help others. All of us, collectively, are changing the world one day at a time.
Do you have any mental health heroes? I’d love to hear who they are and why they are important to you.