Today I attended my last Time To Change event, as the campaign is finally coming to a close.
I have worked for Time To Change for seven years, firstly as a Youth Involvement Worker, then as a member of the Advisory Panel. My life has changed immeasurably as a result of working as part of this team, and I’m so sad to see it go.
I will never forget chancing upon an advert people for people with lived experience of mental health problems to share their stories with schools across the country and impulsively applying. At this point, I had never uttered my full story with mental illness out loud to another person. There were parts of my journey that I had never shared at all. I had no idea how I was ever going to get through the interview, which involved presenting a PowerPoint about myself and my experiences with mental illness to a panel, and how I would be brave enough to navigate the journey up to London and find the office in the first place. The whole time I was there I couldn’t believe I was doing it, and once I left I put it down to being a good experience, but didn’t expect any more to come from it.
Just a few weeks later I was spending a week in London with twenty other people as the first cohort of Youth Involvement Workers (now called Young Champions), where we were all planning our testimonies and sharing our stories with each other. It was an experience unlike no other I’ve ever had, and the truly the first step of my journey as a mental health campaigner.
The opportunities I’ve had since being part of this team have been amazing, and I will never forget them. I’ve been to events with politicians and royalty, met famous mental health advocates and travelled all over the country to share my experiences with others. I’ve been part of local and national campaigns, participated in the worlds first Global Mental Health Summit and talked about my own story with hundreds and hundreds of people. I have made some of the best friends, who I can go a year without seeing and feel like no time has passed at all every time we meet. Most of all, I have grown into the person I am today. Resilient, brave and honest. Someone who now knows with confidence that my mental illnesses are not something to be ashamed of or to hide away from the world, but to be proud of the adversity that I have, and continue to, overcome.
I owe so much to Time To Change and the entire Children and Young People’s team. Every single person I’ve had the pleasure of meeting will leave their mark on me forever, and I will never forget the time that I’ve had the pleasure of being part of this campaign.
I am proud of every single person who has been a part of it, no matter how big or how small, and I’m so grateful to have had the experiences I have.
Thank you Time To Change, for everything.