In October the South London Press and London Weekly News set out on a mission to make a difference in mental health.
This newspaper aimed to put a stop to stigma and discrimination, while working to break down the barriers that prevent people seeking help.
Over the last six months, we have reported on some remarkable stories. Stories of unfairness, inequality and despair. But also of courage, strength and resolve in the face of adversity, and of ground-breaking innovation and progress.
Working in partnership with Lambeth and Southwark Mind, the Change Is Possible campaign has turned the spotlight on a topic that has been overlooked for far too long.
Our appeal has kick-started a public dialogue about mental health, giving ‘survivors’ the confidence to come forward and share their experiences while stimulating a debate around approaches to treatment and care, and raising more than £5,000 for local causes.
We have heard from people who have lived with diagnoses of psychosis, with complex eating disorders, and with crippling depression and anxiety problems.
We have also heard from the friends and families who struggled to come to terms with the loss of a loved one when the pressures of a mental health crisis became too great.
But we have also heard from the pioneering health professionals and community activists who are striving every day to change the system for the better.
Here in south London, some of the world’s leading mental health experts are taking huge steps towards a society that promotes and protects good mental health for everyone.
During the course of our campaign, we have spoken to specialists at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) and Lambeth council, where pioneering research is improving mental health in the community.
Local organisations and charities, including the Mosaic Clubhouse, the You First project and the Clean & Care employment programme, have also found a platform in the pages of the South London Press.
Last but not least, we have shone a light on the work of our charity partners at Lambeth and Southwark Mind, who provide a range of alternative therapies to the most vulnerable people in our communities.
The South London Press has always been a fearless, campaigning newspaper and we have a fantastic history of championing worthy causes in our communities.
We have been proud to continue that tradition with Change Is Possible. Thank you to everyone – readers, writers and contributors – who has played a part in its success.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY …
Chief Executive, Mosaic Clubhouse
“When we saw that the South London Press was running a campaign on mental health we were absolutely delighted.
“We have been offering mental health support to residents of Lambeth since 1994 and understand just how much the stigma associated with a mental health diagnosis can affect people’s confidence and willingness to seek further help.
“It was so good to be able to explain to readers exactly what we do and, most importantly, to share member testimonies, giving hope to anyone who finds themselves in a similar position. And there is a great deal of hope!”
Psychoanalyst and founder of the Psychosis Therapy Project
“We need to acknowledge the seriousness of the mental health crisis that is under way – and the South London Press and London Weekly News campaign has been very helpful in raising people’s awareness.
“But things are likely to get worse and we must be prepared for that to happen. Yet we are not prepared because we lack adequate resources and support.
“The Psychosis Therapy Project is committed to maintaining a mental health safety net at all costs and we are grateful to Lambeth and Southwark Mind for the opportunity to develop the project in south London.”
Councillor Jim Dickson
Lambeth council cabinet member for healthier and stronger communities
“A huge thanks to all at the South London Press and Lambeth and Southwark Mind. The campaign has been vital in breaking down stigma and demonstrating how important it is for people to talk about mental health and to seek help.
“The council, NHS and community groups in Lambeth are working hard and with increasing success to provide early support to people needing help with their mental health and wellbeing.
“The number of people requiring acute psychiatric care or stays in hospital is falling. But that will only continue if the lessons of Change is Possible are remembered – that stigma must be fought every day and that we must battle to make sure the parity of esteem between mental and physical health care that we value in Lambeth is here for good.”
Chief Executive, Lambeth and Southwark Mind
“The greatest success of the campaign has been the broad and inclusive conversation about mental health it has helped to initiate.
“From local influencers to campaigners, practitioners and some of our own service users, we have been thrilled by the number of people who have been inspired to come forward and share with us accounts of their own struggles and recovery.
“My hope is that we can keep this momentum going and ensure that the campaign leaves a positive, lasting legacy – not just for Lambeth and Southwark Mind but for the vulnerable members of our community to whom it has given a voice.”