Tomorrow, it’s #timetotalk about mental health on Liberal Democrat Voice

We already talk quite a lot about mental health on Liberal Democrat Voice, but tomorrow we want to have a specific focus on the issue as part of Time to Change’s Time to Talk Day. They are asking all of us to take 5 minutes to have a conversation about mental health.

We are looking for contributions from readers, whether it’s sharing ideas or experiences to post on the site tomorrow. Please send them to [email protected]. Ideally, they should be somewhere between 300-500 words, but feel free to be creative. If you want to share a video, or a graphic, that’s fine too.

Time to Talk are asking people to blog on 5 themes:

My name is and I have experienced…

My mental illness has affected my…

My greatest source of support has been…

My hope for the future is that…

I’m taking 5 on Time to Talk Day because…

You don’t have to stick to these themes. They are just there as a guide.

You can find out how to get involved on Facebook and Twitter here.

Last year’s event attracted some of our best posts of the year. As a reminder, here they all are:

My intro post to the day. I want to remind us of a very good idea that commenter Matt had – of loaning patient something like a KINECT console to help improve their fitness. I’m about to get a CPAPP machine to help with Sleep Apnea, so why not something like this. As Matt put it:

However, I do think the concept of a Kinect console like that used for the Xbox machine, which gets people up and out of the chair and moving around is a good idea. The NHS could develop their own console with a fitness program. This would be a standard fitness program (Not games console} aimed at reducing weight and improving activity levels. The progress could then be downloaded and monitored directly by the patients GP showing progress in activity, weight loss, reduction in BMI etc.

I am sure this would be relatively cheap to do; it would have various health benefits for the patient and in the long run could save massive amounts of money which is spent on weight related Illnesses, weight loss surgery, type 2 diabetes, High Blood Pressure etc.

What do you reckon, Norman Lamb?

Another contributor said she’d never told her own mother that she suffers from a mental illness.

I have though not told my mother I have a mental illness. I know how she would react and I know it will be unsupportive and dismissive.

I hold down a job and I attend conferences I have on the outside a “normal” life. A life, which is satisfying and I know my mother would instantly think that I am going to be unable to work and lead my own life.

This is the biggest problem stigma and stereotype.

Holly Matthies wrote that our Lib Dem values should shape the way we approach mental health.

Championing freedom from conformity means not expecting everyone’s life to follow the same path and thinking there is worth in a diversity of life experiences. Conformity breeds stigma for anyone who deviates from the expectation, and when it comes to mental illness, stigma is one of our worst enemies.

What can we do here? Support — both personally and in Lib Dem policies — people whose lives don’t go good-school-good-job-marriage-mortgage-kids. Many of us have chosen such paths, and very rewarding they can be, but sometimes we’ve had them chosen for us by the nature of our illness, like when I had to drop out of university because of my depression. Things like restarting higher/further education or explaining gaps in your CV can be really difficult, but we can make them easier.

Eleanor Draycott wrote a candid and powerful account of living with Bipolar Disorder.

One of the most common misconceptions about people with Bi-polar, as with any other mental health problem, is that they are a danger to other people. Nothing makes me more angry than when I’m watching a film or television programme and they announce that the serial killer, murderer etc is Bi-polar and just leave it at that – like that explains everything. It doesn’t. Of course it can happen, and it does, but assuming that a person with a mental health issue such as mine is automatically going to go on a killing spree is like assuming anyone with a gun is going to go out and shoot someone in the head, or that anyone who drinks alcohol is going to become an alcoholic.

John Johnson wrote about living with social anxiety disorder:

I took the decision to tell my boss.

We went for a walk down by the river. I remember taking a deep breath before opening up for the first time in my life and then just waiting for the response.

“You don’t show it” she said (and this is a very common response I get), “how can we help you?”

Just being able to sit down with someone and talk through my problems was such a relief. I never expected to have such a positive reaction from my boss. I have to admit that losing my job was more prominent in my mind, but that might just be a sign of my anxiety.

I think I’m quite lucky to have her as a boss – I wish everyone would be able to respond as supportively as she did.

All of these writers made Time to Talk Day 2014 one of LDV’s best. I’m sure that we can do the same tomorrow.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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