See Us! – make a difference together
The last 18 months have had a huge impact on communities across Scotland.
While we as a nation are only just beginning to understand the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. One thing we can see already is that the mental health of the nation has taken a real hit.
Now more than ever, it is important that we get talking about mental health and standing up to stigma and discrimination when we see it, to make sure that people get support and understanding when they need it.
We at See Me are launching a new campaign – See Us. We’re calling on everyone in Scotland to get behind the movement to end mental health stigma and discrimination to make real change for those who need it. It’s time to stop Seeing Me – the person struggling, and for everyone to stand up and say, ‘See Us, we’re making a difference together.’
A survey of over 2000 Scots, including 1000 who have experienced mental health problems found that more than half (58 per cent) say that their own perceptions of people with mental health problems have improved in the last 10 years.
Now is the time to build on that positive progress. The See Us campaign encourages people across Scotland – whether they have experience of a mental health problem or not – to join the movement to end stigma by getting involved in events, activities and speaking up to challenge outdated stereotypes.
The arts play a really important role in communities across Scotland and we have a new section of the See Us website dedicated to tackling stigma using the arts. Our briefing paper: Using The Arts to Challenge Mental Health Stigma and the Impact on the Audience offers key findings on different methods used through the arts to reduce mental health stigma and what components of stigma they are helping to challenge. Another example is offered by Liam Rankin who has created a choir to bring our community together and show that regardless of who we are, regardless of our mental health, we all have a voice!
I would encourage all of you to get behind the See Us movement. Visit our website www.seemescotland.org/SeeUs to find resources to help you make change.
On the website, you’ll also find our See Us activity pack, which is packed with ways in which to engage with local people and get the conversation started on mental health stigma and discrimination.
While perceptions of mental health are improving, we know that we still have work to do. The same research found that more than two-thirds of people (71 per cent) with mental health problems surveyed have still experienced stigma or discrimination – most commonly from someone they know including: friends, people online, immediate family and work colleagues.
Stigma and fear of discrimination prevent people from reaching out for the help they need and for some, it can be the difference between life and death.
Mental health affects people from all walks of life, so I’m asking you to do your bit and take action. Whether you’re offering a listening ear for someone who needs it, sharing your own experiences of mental health to help break down barriers, or organising an event in your library using our activity pack. Everything we do matters and it all helps us get closer to ending mental health stigma and discrimination in Scotland.
Wendy Halliday is the Director of See Me, Scotland’s programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination.
Find out more about See Us and how you can get involved by visiting our website, and join in the conversation on social media using #SeeMeSeeUs to help others to find out about the movement.
Nick Jedrzejewski | Communications and Public Affairs Manager, See Me Scotland
Image Description: See Me volunteers as part of the See Us movement.
(Left to right) Liam Rankin, Tommy Kelly, Chloe Whyte and Sam Nadeen.
See Me is Scotland’s Programme to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination, funded by SAMH and the Mental Health Foundation.
Image Credit Marc Turner