Here are our top tips for raising more money:
We need money to conduct research. But the conversations, high fives and hugs you have whilst you are fundraising can have an impact today. Stigma is not just about discrimination, it affects access to support from friends, family, medical professionals and access to employment. These are some stories about normal people and the stigma of mental health. The stories are true but we have changed people’s identities. It’s mental health. Who will you help today?
"We started comparing our illnesses. His downs, my downs, the medication. I told him about the auditory hallucinations I sometimes had. “Oh yes.” He said. “I had that when I was 14. But my mother told me not to tell anyone otherwise I might end up in hospital."
"We had known each other for 20 years. But she had moved away and had kids so we met less often. When we first knew each other she had these occasional black spots. A week of being down, usually after months of a busy social and work schedule. You need the symptoms of depression for 2 weeks to get a diagnosis. More recently these black spots had lasted longer and then we met and she announced she had been on anti-depressants for the last 2 months and was feeling better. We chatted. I asked if she had told any of her friends in order to get support. "Oh no, that would seem like I was weak."
She was beautiful and a fitness instructor too. We started chatting and I talked about mental health. Two minutes in and she started apologising, I really wasn’t sure what she was apologising for. The conversation moved to her and she talked about her illness. She apologised again. I still didn’t know why. Her face started to flush. She started to hide her face behind the collar of her hoody and then the tears started to flow. People with mental illness often put up an "I’m OK" front. They don’t get to talk about how they really feel all that often. She was so beautiful. It was strange to see her disintegrate into the pain of mental health.
He had studied sciences at University, got a good degree, and had been awarded a grant to study for a PhD. His illness caught up with him though and he had to drop out. By the time I met him he was 25 and had had some good jobs. "Why are you volunteering?" I asked. "To be honest I have that many holes in my CV that I am finding it hard to get a job. So, I thought that volunteering would help." 25, bags of potential and already out of work for life?
He has since found employment.
"She suffered from social anxiety. We were just chatting on the phone and anxiety was not something I have first-hand experience of so I said to her. "What’s it like being affected by a condition like social anxiety?" "Oh no, I cannot talk now. My parents might hear."
If you would like to share your story, anonymous or otherwise, please email us at email@example.com