The legacy of Time to Change
Way back in 2009, I began a whole new chapter of my life. After being diagnosed with a Borderline Personality Disorder, I moved my marketing career into the charity sector to try and help others who may be facing the same challenges as me.
I joined the team at Time to Change. And what a team! Never before had lived experience so informed a campaign. Never before had mental health been so openly discussed and stigma quashed. It was an exciting time to be part of a movement that was so needed.
Personally, however, I still did not feel comfortable talking openly about my own condition. Despite the phenomenal work I was involved in, supporting others to share their stories and make an impact, I just couldn't do it myself. The fear was too overwhelming.
Today, I am not that way. I feel comfortable with my diagnosis and I am open if someone asks me what condition I live with. I no longer say 'oh, it's a bit like bipolar' because I think that will be more socially acceptable. I no longer keep quiet when I hear someone talking in language that is unacceptable. I no longer cringe when I see a story about mental health in the newspaper (well, mostly!) because instead of presenting horrific, negative assumptions, many media outlets now take advice from mental health charities about stories before going to print.
I went on to be involved with the campaign (and the charities involved) long after I moved to another role in my career. Time to Change was a campaign that got under your skin, lit a fire, made you want to tell everyone about it!
I know the campaign will be truly missed, not only by those involved in delivering it, but by every single person touched by mental health problems in the UK. But I genuinely believe Time to Change has made a difference and has achieved so much of what it set out to do.
Since the campaign launched, 5.4 million people now have improved attitudes towards those of us living with mental health conditions. Research shows people’s willingness to live, work and continue a relationship with someone experiencing a mental health problem has also increased by 11.6 percent - a phenomenal change in behaviour towards people just like me.
It is a different world, that is for sure. It's by no means perfect, but it is definitely better than it was back in 2009. To me, this is the legacy of Time to Change. It is nationwide, some may even say global, the impact Time to Change has had.
Stigma still needs challenging. There is still change to come. But for Time to Change, they have created a better world over the past fifteen years and changed so many people's lives. Including my own.
I can now wake up and simply be Laura. Time to Change may be ending, but I will always be a Time to Change Champion.
Now, that's a legacy worth leaving.