National campaign calls on Welsh public to Reach Out

Timeto Change Wales is today (7th September) launching a new campaign toencourage members of the public to reach out to friends, family members andcolleagues who are living with mental health problems. Emphasising the messagethat you don’t need to be an expert to talk about mental health, the Reach Out campaign illustrates how small thingscan make a big difference to people’s mental health, wellbeing and recovery.

Continuing the theme of previous Timeto Change Wales media campaigns, people with lived experience are at the heartof the ReachOut campaign. A series of videos will be shown across television,cinemas and social media, all featuring Welsh people with mental healthproblems telling the audience what reaching out means to them. Each persondescribes how the small things that their friends, family members or workcolleagues do – such as asking how they are, spending time with family or goingfor a coffee, to the cinema or the gym – can make a big difference to theirlives.

The stars include a number of Time toChange Wales Champions, who regularly volunteer and deliver anti-stigma talksabout their own experiences to businesses and communities across Wales. Thevideos also feature some familiar faces including television presenter MattJohnson and Hywel Gwynfryn of BBC Radio Cymru.

Research indicates that nine out often people with mental health problems experience stigma or discrimination andmany say that this can be worse than the illness itself. It can prevent peoplefrom talking about their mental health and seeking help, or engaging in work orsocial activities. With one in four of us experiencing a mental health problem,the campaign will illustrate how it can affect people from all demographics andbackgrounds, with the common theme that small things can mean a great deal.

The Reach Out campaign calls on membersof the public to share their stories about the small things they did to supportsomeone they know with a mental health problem or how they were supportedthemselves, using the hashtags #ReachOut or #EstynLlaw and using the Time toChange Wales and Amser i Newydd Cymru Twitter handle @TTCWales and @AINCymru.

The campaign website www.reachout.wales has the full videos, blogs and ideasof how to reach out to someone, all from people who live with a variety ofmental health problems sharing how people in their lives have reached out andsupported them – and what has worked for them.

Timeto Change Wales programme manager Ryan Jones said:

“TheReach Out campaign has a really simple message; we can all do small things that will makea big difference to our friends, family members and colleagues who experiencemental health problems. Whether it’s asking them how they are, or going for acoffee and a chat, to the cinema or the gym, these can have a positive impacton their mental health and support their recovery.

“Weare really proud to have people with lived experience at the heart of the Reach Out campaign, courageously sharing their stories to help tackle the stigma anddiscrimination that is still faced by too many people across Wales.

“SinceTime to Change Wales started in 2012 we have made a demonstrable impact on publicattitudes, but there is still lots to do to ensure that people with mentalhealth problems are treated with dignity and respect.

“Weare calling on members of the public and organisations across the length andbreadth of Wales to join us by sharing their stories about how people havereached out to them or how they have reached out to friends, family members andcolleagues with mental health problems. Together, we can end stigma anddiscrimination.”

Speakingabout his Reach Out campaign video, Matt Johnson said:

”Forme, my friends and family have been so important to me with preventing futurebouts of depression.

“Themost important thing about Reaching Out is that anybody can do it, it’s usuallyfree, it’s usually a conversation, it’s a tap on the back, it’s theacknowledgement of somebody, of somebody’s existence, because with lots ofpeople with a mental illness they can feel very alone.

“It’sa small thing asking someone how they are but it can go a long way.”

Speakingin her Reach Out campaign video Anya Evans said:

“You need those people in your life toremind you that you are still the person that you were before.  There is no set of rules about what you haveto do, everybody’s different and different things help different people. 

“So, reaching out to me is being therefor someone.  It’s something that anyonecan do.  It’s letting someone know you’rethere and that you understand.  It’smeeting up and seeing friends. It’s laughing together.”