NEXT week is International Mental Health Day when everyone in the sector focusses their attention on raising awareness and working to overcome prejudice and end the stigma.
On October 10 ubu will be signalling a very clear intent to our stakeholders that we are backing the @TimetoChange campaign lead by Mind and Rethink Mental Health.
ubu believes and leads the way in changing the way society cared for its most vulnerable adults and children. Key to that is how we treat the people we serve. We believe that if you treat a person as they should be they will remain as they are. If you treat them as they could be they will become what they should be.
On International Mental Health Day we want people to remember a few key things about mental health.
It will affect one in four people at some point in their lifetime. That is a massive number of people. More importantly, for the most part we will not notice any change in them. The difference can be so slight that it could be something as simple as lethargy in a normally active person or forgetfulness.
The people we serve come in all shapes and sizes including people with Autism, Downs and serious brain injury. One size doesn’t fit all, so neither should their treatment which is why ubu is encouraging everyone to think as we do, put people at the heart of what they do, treat them with respect and dignity helping them towards greater independence and to play a meaningful part within their local community.
That leads me to my second point. It’s Time to Change how we discuss and refer to people with mental health problems and try to avoid terms that could cause offence.
We all know that some things are said in jest and many things are taken in jest. But to make a joke about someone’s condition can cause offence, distress or worse. Ask yourself? How would you feel if a particular comment was made about you? If the answer is you wouldn’t like it, chances are the person on the receiving end doesn’t either. Make that change.
ubu encourages the people we serve to make the change to their own lives by setting some goals and then working towards them. Like Marvellous Neil Baldwin, the subject of this week’s @KatiesCalendar they can change but sometimes they need to feel society is supporting them make that change. ubu through our uStep helps the people we serve change their own lives and live their dreams. By becoming more independent they reduce the level of support they need whilst a valued premium is delivered back into society. These are great reasons to support the people we serve on their journey and reasons why we all need to think of changing our attitude towards mental illness.
Thirdly, it’s Time to Change how we interact with people suffering mental health issues. Do we shun them? Do we avoid engaging in conversation with them? Take the time to listen and respond. If you are mentally ill it takes massive courage to start a conversation with a stranger, if you are then ignored or that person walks away it can have a dramatic effect on your life.
The people we serve are outgoing living with greater independence at the heart of their local communities, making a contribution through therapeutic work, play and education. Support them by making your own change and engaging with them.
It’s TimetoChange society’s collective attitude to mental health illness. Don’t join in when people diss or make fun of mental health or people who are clearly ill? Make the change and speak out against it. Silence isn’t golden. Remember there was just one boy who spoke up when he saw the King without his clothes. Everyone else had joined in the adulation, but the smart, innocent child saw a naked man and shouted out as much. In the end he had public opinion behind him and became the hero.
ubu believes all the people we serve are heroes. Our uStep model of support can enable many of them to get out of their comfort zone and do things they never dreamt they could do, springing surprises on a lot of people and we will continue to support them as they progress forwards. But if society is to feel a very real and tangible benefit then we all have to change the way we think towards vulnerable adults and children, people with mental health issues who just need a little support and love.
Become a hero – not just in your own crowd but in society and join ubu@ubusupport back @TimetoChange to change the way we all act and think about mental health.