Liam Elvish | Student Contributor
It was announced in October that ‘Time to Change’ would sadly be drawing to a close in March 2021. After fifteen years of campaigning to improve attitudes and to change behaviours around mental health, the campaign is to be wound up due to financial constraints.
‘Time to Change’ was established in 2006 for the purposes of promoting greater discourse on psychological wellbeing and challenging a historically held stigma towards mental health issues in the UK and beyond. While it may not have endured in titular posterity, the organisation can nonetheless be immensely proud in having succeeded in its mission to widen public awareness.
Many public bodies and private corporations have adopted practices aimed at encouraging a more positive response regarding sensitivity towards individual support and mind-friendly environments within the workplace. Schools, colleges, and universities have been at the forefront of concentration, with 16-25 years olds now viewed as the most at-risk demographic, especially under the influence of social media. Mental health is now a top priority of the social and political agenda and, while there is still much work to be done, significant progress has been made in tackling prejudice and ensuring that, within the NHS, it is granted the same status as physical health.
In seeking to establish a nationwide engagement with mental health, ‘Time to Change’ has furthered the cause of many other institutions with similar intentions, and there is solace in the knowledge that the dedication and commitment of members and fundraisers have consistently maintained a collaborative approach. While it is a huge disappointment that the ‘Time to Change’ campaign has been unable to secure further funding, it is reassuring that its charity partners, Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, will continue to fight for better mental health support nationally.
It is essential that we continue to talk about mental health, particularly in the wake of the Coronavirus situation. According to Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, more people in Britain have experienced a mental crisis throughout the pandemic than at any time on record, the charity having recorded twice the usual number of calls since the beginning of the first lockdown. The Department of Health and Social Care have emphasised that it is ‘an absolute priority’, with the government confirming an investment of £2.3 billion for mental health by 2024.
The deterioration of wellbeing is a major concern, particularly regarding those who live alone, the elderly, and vulnerable. A second lockdown in the late Autumn-Winter period has inevitably been much harder than the first during the Spring months; the evenings draw in earlier, the temperature drops, and social interaction generally decreases.
It is essential that the central message of ‘Time to Change’ remains an integral part of the public consciousness and continues to be heard well into 2021 and beyond.