"The opportunity to talk openly about what I was experiencing, and the knowledge that I would not be judged or derided for my words, has been and continues to be critical to my ongoing mental good health."
BasicNeeds is an international charity working to improve the lives of people with mental health conditions in low and middle-income countries. We have developed a model for intervening in low resource settings that is proven and effective.
It is founded on strong principles and approaches from both development and mental health work. We work with groups, we help them to become aware and supportive for those who have mental health conditions and their carers.
We understand the power of relationships and try to put them at the heart of everything that we do. We know that the ability to contribute to your family and community, whether through domestic work or generating an income, increases self-esteem and reduces stigma. We have worked across fifteen countries and have global influence.
" I have seen counsellors and psychotherapists on a number of occasions when the stress or strain of life felt close to being overwhelming... I get through and consider myself a resilient and strong person who tries to support others where I can."
Shifting perspectives have supported my charity and me
Time to Change and the annual #TimetoTalk day we mark today has been an important part of shifting perspectives in the UK and a raft of other countries. This shift in the UK has helped our work internationally. More money is coming into mental health work and more interest shown in the mental health of people in countries supported by international aid. This is critical if we are to support other countries to talk openly about mental health and develop means of supporting those who need it.
Over the course of our lives, most, if not all of us will have some brush with depression, breakdown, psychosis or other mental health condition. While there is a huge difference between living with a long term condition and experiencing a short-term challenge to our mental health it does mean that almost all of us will have some insight into what it means to struggle to sustain positive mental health.
I have never been diagnosed with a mental health condition, and have never taken medication for mental health reasons. I have, however, seen counsellors and psychotherapists on a number of occasions when the stress or strain of life felt close to being overwhelming. Stresses of work, the death of my father, my wife almost being killed, have all been experiences that pushed my mental and psychological resilience to, and probably beyond, its limit.
In more ordinary times I can slip close enough to depression to understand what it means and how it can take over your internal world. But, I get through, and consider myself a resilient and strong person who tries to support others where I can. I know that the difference between me, and between people who have been diagnosed, who have needed medication and who have progressed to long-term conditions is not great.
The crucial factor has been that I have had access to supportive networks, family, friends and professional support. This has helped me through the dark times, given me moments of light amid the gloom, and ensured that I was never in any doubt as to how important I was to other people. Even at my lowest points, I have felt wanted, needed and valued. Without that I am sure that I would have broken rather than just being temporarily burdened by the experiences of life. The opportunity to talk openly about what I was experiencing, and the knowledge that I would not be judged or derided for my words, has been, and continues to be critical to my ongoing mental good health. This blog is a chance to say thank you to all the people who have been part of that journey. That is why I believe that Time to Talk day is so important, not just here but across the world.
Contribute to #TimeToTalk on Twitter on February 1