How do we build a more mental health friendly Sheffield?
We do it together. We do it with glamour. We do it with style.
A city-wide mental health festival would be a great way to raise mental health awareness.
Sheffield is known for being a greener, environmentally friendly city. Let’s also make it a mentally friendly city. It could be epically eventful! My vision of the festival is to provide more glamorous events, I introduce to you: The PMA Awards! Positive Mental Attitude awards that reward workers and service users within the mental health sector. Nominations would highlight the work of the individual and the outcomes of their work, as recognition for both health practitioners and service users. Make it the Event of the Year, not so much a red-carpet event but a green one, to represent mental health matters.
A great opportunity for creative artists and service users to come together, the festival would involve artists and musicians. This would be particularly powerful as music and art are tools that aid recovery. Also, included would be a spoken word competition highlighting the therapeutic power of writing. Society seems to ‘write off’ people with mental illness and see them as ‘wrong ‘uns’. I’d like to take the negatives and turn them into positives: righting the wrongs with writing. For people carrying the burden of mental illness, this would be a way for people to express and write off their problems. By sharing their writing, they would make a direct connection with creatives, health professionals, the public and service users alike.
It need not cost much either. Taking inspiration from successful events such as Sharrow Lantern Carnival; council backing, volunteers and stallholder fees would crowdfund the event.
Just imagine… networking opportunities, innovative ideas and projects could be presented and discussed along with updates of recent research. Make it an event for everyone, giving Sheffield people a greater sense of involvement. Plus, invite the media to reach the wider community. As long as you’re glamorous, you’re welcome!
And that’s not all.
Around the city, interactive billboards with a set of specific questions would give instant feedback on the public’s feelings around mental health matters. Bright affirmations plastered around for us all to see! A great visual eye-catcher that would reach out to the public in a direct and engaging way. I think this would be a radical way of getting everyone involved in the community whilst having fun!
I am and always will be a service user. I have bipolar and borderline personality disorder which I will have for the rest of my life, as do many others. Many are trying to come to terms with their illnesses, as are their families and society. In the midst of confusion, panic and illusion we can build a vision in Sheffield far from a prison, and I say this as we tend to become prisoners of our own minds: our troubles, worries and strife. Well, let’s turn strife into striving forward with inclusive fun, with glitzy glamour, but above all, with a friendly approachable smile. Let’s join forces. Service users, doctors, support workers, psychologists working together and combining their ideas to create and achieve a much more positive outlook on mental health.
We should not be discriminated against or made to feel alienated. We just seek a little compassion or empathy. Mentally ill people are often recognised solely for their condition. This is through ignorance and narrow-mindedness. We are more than our disorder!