The original intention behind this website was, and still is, to act mainly as a source of information about our group for people living in the immediate locality - Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. However. as time has gone by the site has developed quite a global reach. We are visited by people all over the world: from Russia in the north to Australia in the south, from California in the west to Japan in the east and all points in between. At the time of writing, most of our visitors come from the US, followed by Denmark, China, the UK then everywhere else. Strange that the UK comes fourth! Now, from my point of view this increase in traffic is obviously very satisfying but rather puzzling. Or is it? I’ll come back to that a bit later.
For many years - centuries, in fact - people with mental health issues have been, at best, marginalised and, at worst, terribly persecuted. Now, in 21st century Britain things have improved a hell of a lot compared to how they were, say, in Victorian times. Nevertheless, there’s still a long way to go. For instance, we have Equal Opportunities legislation in the UK. In spite of that, sufferers of poor mental health still experience stigma and discrimination in the workplace, assuming they can get into the workplace in the first place. I suspect that most such people will hide their mental health past from potential employers because they rightly suspect that they wouldn’t even get a job interview if they were completely up-front. If that ploy does help them to get a job then they are still vulnerable to the later accusation of not disclosing health information, which could get them fired for breach of contract. Talk about a rock and a hard place.
This is why national Time to Change was originally set up - to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination at all levels and get people talking about it. Here at Leicester Time to Change we try to do just that. It’s one of our main objectives. It says so on the home page. Have a look.
Another thing that we try to do, as a group, is help one another. We talk and listen to one another and try to support and encourage one another. This is where the website, to some extent, contributes. One of the most popular pages is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the ‘Have Your Say’ page. This is a kind of members’ blog where people can share their experiences. We have one member, Julie, who has been coping with psychosis for a number of years. Since March 2014 Julie has been contributing a series of articles on how she has coped with her diagnosis, treatment and ongoing recovery. I’m sure that Julie will be helping people in a similar situation. I take my hat off to her candour and greatly admire the style and content of her writing. I’m also pretty certain that it’s the quality and originality of her posts that have helped to boost traffic to the website in recent weeks. Any webmaster will tell you that one of the keys to a successful website is the frequent posting of high quality, original content.
I would like to see more of this kind of material submitted to the site. I know that there are other group members who have their own stories to tell. I’m trying to winkle them out of their shells! Also, I would really appreciate it if our wider readership could tell us of their own experiences. It would be fascinating to learn about how mental health difficulties are regarded in, say, the Philippines or Saudi Arabia. I can assure potential contributors that they would be afforded complete anonymity if they so wish. So, what do you think? If you feel the urge to put on your writing head, email your contributions in.
As I said, we do get quite a few visitors. What we don’t get is any feedback. What do you like about the site and what do you hate? What should we retain and what should we ditch? What would you like to see added? I await your comments.
I just couldn’t resist this snippet from the Express (14 June 2014). It’s got nothing to do with mental health, but I thought it was hilarious.
This was seen on a tea towel in a souvenir shop in Polperrow, Cornwall, and gives a transcription of a radio communication between Canadian authorities and the captain of a US aircraft carrier off the Newfoundland coast in 1995.
CANADIANS: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.
AMERICANS: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision.
CANADIANS: Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.
AMERICANS: This is the captain of a US Navy ship. I say again; divert YOUR course.
CANADIANS: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.
AMERICANS: THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS LINCOLN, THE SECOND LARGEST SHIP IN THE UNITED STATES ATLANTIC FLEET.
WE ARE ACCOMPANIED BY THREE DESTROYERS, THREE CRUISERS AND NUMEROUS SUPPORT VESSELS.
I DEMAND THAT YOU CHANGE YOUR COURSE 15 DEGREES NORTH.
I SAY AGAIN: THAT IS ONE FIVE DEGREES NORTH OR COUNTER-MEASURES WILL BE UNDERTAKEN TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THIS SHIP.