Many thanks for all the kind messages last night after Mind announced (on Twitter) that I was the mental health charity’s Champion of the Year.
Judging by the sheer volume of messages on Facebook, I think Jane Appleton’s
FB group supporting me had an effect.
Also I was told last night that when previous Champion Stephen Fry tweeted
that he had voted for me there was a sudden upsurge in voting. I suppose if
even a fraction of half a million Twitter followers took his lead that must
have had an effect, though it also led at the time to a few ‘anyone but AC’
messages and votes.
Anyway a vlog on proceedings will go up in due course
but for now a few points about last night’s event in London. Several speakers,
not just me but Mind president Melvyn Bragg and chief executive Paul Farmer,
spoke of the feeling we were close to a tipping point in terms of people’s
greater understanding and society’s greater openness about mental illness.
There is still too much stigma. There is still too much discrimination and
people who suffer mental distress often say the discrimination is worse than
the symptoms. But things are improving. Both Melvyn and Paul said they felt
change was happening more quickly than we realised.
I spoke of the way the film Milk brilliantly captured the progress of the
struggle for gay rights. There was no single point at which the struggle was
won. It was a movement. Change came slowly, then accelerated and then suddenly
it was clear the change had come.
I feel something similar happening in mental health campaigning and I am
pleased and proud that people think my novel, my BBC film on my breakdown and
depression, and the role I played with Stephen and Ruby Wax in fronting the
Time to Change campaign, may have played a part in that.
There were five nominees last night and it was all a bit ‘night at the Oscars’
as the citations were read and the winner announced.
I did not do a Kate Winslet but I did tell the story of how my
fifteen-year-old daughter Grace, who has said all her life she will be a famous
actress one day, said to Fiona in one of those mother-daughter nuclear
explosions that brighten up our lives from time to time, “talk to me like
that again and I won’t mention you in my first BAFTA acceptance
I mentioned both of them last night, and the rest of the family, as they are
the most important factors in my health and happiness (with Burnley FC not far
behind). But above all the event was a celebration of the fantastic work Mind
and other mental health charities do, and a look forward to how they build on
that work in the future.
Mental health is likely to come up at the conference
I am speaking at today in Scotland, a gathering of social workers.
I scribbled my speech on the sleeper from Euston, drawing heavily on my eulogy
to social workers, and some of your comments, which appeared here on March 12.
A rude awakening though when the steward brought in tea and orange juice
at seven, with a copy of The Scotsman and another screaming
front page Labour
expenses crisis headline.
I said in that March 12 blog that compared with social workers, MPs had an
easy ride from the media. Now I’m not so sure.