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Time to Talk about mental health

Tower Hamlets Council will be encouraging everyone to take ‘Time to Talk’ on 5 February to get more people talking about mental health than ever before. The campaign, led by national charity Time to Change, aims to show that “It’s the little things which make a big difference” and could be as simple as having a cup of tea and a chat with your friend, colleague or neighbour who might need some extra support. Time to Change is England’s biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination. Mental health problems may be more common than some may realise as 1 in 4 people in the UK will be affected in their lifetime.Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman said: “Tower Hamlets Council works with its partners to combat stigma and discrimination around mental health. We signed the Time to Change pledge last year and strongly encourage residents to start those conversations and support others.”Four short films have been created by volunteers wanting to raise awareness of mental health and to help empower viewers. Although all of the situations are not reflective of everyone’s experience, the films are meant to act as a talking point and prompt discussion.Lead member for adults and health services Cllr Adbul Asad said: “This day is another opportunity to highlight the importance of having open conversations about your health. These films are a great way for local residents to explore why mental health remains such a taboo.”One of the film’s volunteers, Sana Amos, shares her experience with getting involved in the project:“I came across Moving Pictures not long after my hospitalisation, whilst I was living in Crisis House. Over many years, I had been afraid to speak up about my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, not knowing fully what it meant. Having faced negative responses very early on in my journey, I was aware those closest to me would not accept me and even I became too embarrassed to accept myself. I could not make the doctors understand that a label and medication without any self-education did not mean a thing. Depending on medications to stay “normal”– but how does one know what “normal” is anyway? How was I to make others understand if I was unaware of it myself?  “My personal journey has been the hardest but years of experience taught me more self-awareness that a book could provide. I became passionate to speak against the stigma I faced, fully knowing what impact negative attitudes can have on one’s life, and that sadly many others are also going through this.“This project gave me an opportunity to raise awareness of the challenges involved and hopefully provide a better understanding through a creative medium. By the end of it, I took part in Q&A sessions at the Genesis and Rich Mix Cinemas and was able to speak in front of a crowd on our opening day at Toynbee Hall. This was a huge confidence boost for someone who struggles to go out alone or speak to anyone. “All we need now is the voices of the survivors of mental health to be heard, and projects like these are allowing me and others to speak up.”Staff from Mind in Tower Hamlets and Newham will be offering a cup of tea and making time to have a chat at Chrisp Street Market, from 10am to 3pm on Thursday 5 February.