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Article published on: Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Buckinghamshire Council and Buckinghamshire Mind are delighted to announce the county’s new local mental health anti-stigma campaign, Champion the Change.

The campaign aims to help end mental health stigma and create hope for those affected by mental illness. By transforming misplaced attitudes and increasing understanding of mental health, the community can tackle the unnecessary barriers those living with mental health conditions can face all too often.

To launch the new campaign, the two organisations are hosting their second awareness day called ‘Bucks Big Chat: A call to action’, on 24th June, inspiring the local community to continue the conversation about mental health, helping breakdown stigma in varied and creative ways. The theme for this ‘Bucks Big Chat’ awareness day, is ‘We all have mental health’ which aims to highlight the need for parity of esteem between mental and physical health.

Individuals, schools, businesses, sports/social clubs and any other local organisations are all invited to join Champion the Change’s awareness day. Whether you host a picnic to chat about mental health, organise an outdoor sports events, call a friend or talk to a colleague at work, any conversation small or big can all help raise awareness that we all have mental health and move us closer to ending stigma and discrimination. To see more ideas on how to participate and to receive a free activity pack, please sign-up by 22nd June. Please click here to sign-up.

Navigating life with a mental health condition can be tough, made worse by the impact of experiencing stigma and discrimination. For many people, stigma causes them to feel ashamed, isolated and as if they are to blame for their symptoms. The effects of facing judgement from others and being treated differently due to an illness are far reaching and often prevent people seeking the help and support they need to start the journey towards recovery.

Champion Michelle explains why it is so vital that we challenge mental health stigma to end discrimination: “Despite everybody having mental health, and the potential for any person to experience low mental health, so many people who suffer with mental health illness fear asking for help due to negative attitudes and judgements. No one should be afraid to speak if they are struggling due to the fear of discrimination.”

Andrea McCubbin, Chief Executive, Buckinghamshire Mind said: “Sadly, government funding for the national Time to Change campaign ended in March 2021. As a result of this hugely successful campaign many more of us are now comfortable disclosing a mental health problem without shame or fear of judgment. Ultimately this is the very first step in getting the help, support and treatment we need, and deserve. We would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all our Time to Change colleagues for the step-change in attitudes they have achieved.

“Moving forward, we know how important the campaign is to our local communities. So, we’re delighted to be able to launch Champion the Change to continue this vital work. The campaign has the same aim as Time to Change Bucks – but with a new name, logo and branding. There will be lots of ways to get involved in the months ahead and we look forward to welcoming you.”

Angela Macpherson, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Buckinghamshire Council added: “Talking openly about mental health is one of the best ways we can all help to reduce negative attitudes or judgmental behaviour towards mental health illness. By breaking down barriers and reducing discrimination we can make it feel as normal for those experiencing a mental health illness to tell someone they need help as it would feel if they had a bad back, for example.

“We are so pleased that the fantastic work to change people’s attitudes about mental health that happened through Time to Change Bucks will continue in this new Champion the Change campaign. Let’s all commit to talking to at least one person about mental health on 24th June and get this refreshed campaign off to a great start.”

To find out more, please click here.

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