A few months ago, I felt a little bit like a school-leaver at an interview, going into the offices of Comic Relief to plead for cash for the Time to Change campaign aimed at breaking down stigma and discrimination in mental illness.
Together with Time to Change director Sue Baker, I argued that for many, this was an area where the stigma and discrimination were often worse than the symptoms, and that the campaign was focused on one of the hardest things of all – changing attitudes. Mental illness is perhaps the last great taboo, and we need to break it down.
The Comic Relief cash-handers-outers were a very nice bunch, and their niceness has been followed through with the news, coinciding with today’s ‘World Mental Health Day’ that the funding for the next phase of the campaign has been granted. Many, many thanks.
The total granted, £20million, will see the campaign through to 2015, hopefully building on considerable progress already made. And I know people tend not to visit this site for praise of or thanks to the Tories or the Lib Dems, but the bulk of the funding is coming from the department of Health. So many, many thanks to them too.
To show you I have not gone soft, however, I will quote (approvingly) the words of Ilona Catherine from The Independent today. Like me, she welcomes the cash, and says it is great news for Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, who kicked the whole thing off. But she adds this is also the govenment ‘that has cut welfare and benefits, forced the closure of invaluable charities and services and will continue to make access to mental health services increasingly difficult for the huge number of people in great need of help and support.’
What she says is true. But for today at least, as an Ambassador for Time to Change I would like to thank the government and assure them the money will be well spent working towards these objectives.