Call for people to help end mental health discrimination, as a quarter of Scots don’t feel comfortable speaking about mental health in their community
Posted by See Me, 4 October 2021
See Me is recruiting for volunteers to make real change to people’s lives by tackling mental health stigma and discrimination.
See Me, Scotland’s national programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination, is searching for new volunteers from across the country with different experiences and backgrounds to play a part in the next phase of the programme’s work.
The search for volunteers comes as new research published today (4 October) revealed a quarter of Scots (25 per cent) don’t feel comfortable talking about mental health in their community.
See Me volunteer spokesperson Gemma Patterson has been involved with the programme for 11 years. Gemma, from the Outer Hebrides, said: “I got involved with See Me because I saw a leaflet in my doctor’s office, and thought I could use my experience to help other people.
“Volunteering with See Me helps you to turn difficulties into positives and it gives you a community to be a part of.”
Ayrshire-based Tommy Kelly agrees. Tommy, who has volunteered with See Me since 2015, said: “Volunteering with See Me has given me so, so much – and I’ve gained so many friends. I felt really stigmatised in the past, but I now realise that I’m not alone, and it’s okay to not be okay. Being a part of See Me has given me an outlet to speak about my problems.
“I knew the only way to get help with my eating disorder was to speak about it – and See Me has helped to do that, as a media volunteer. I like to think that I haven’t just helped myself, but lots of other people as well.
“I know how dark it was in my recovery days, and how lucky I am to be here telling my story. To know that I’m even helping one person is massive.”
Volunteers with experience of mental health problems play a central role in See Me and participate in a variety of different ways.
Volunteers speak at events, share their stories in the media, help to design resources, run events and encourage other people in their communities to join the movement to end mental health stigma and discrimination.
They also influence real change by participating in consultation events and policy reviews, within the programme, through the Scottish Government, and with partner mental health organisations.
See Me volunteer Stephanie, from Lanarkshire, added: “One of the highlights for me was being able to take part in a meeting in the Scottish Parliament. Mental health is a huge passion of mine and I want to make a difference for other young people across Scotland.
“I would recommend getting involved with See Me because we’re part of a family who help each other to develop new skills. We also work as a team to deliver information and support to people across Scotland in order to make a difference.”
Last week (27 September), the Scottish Government announced that funding for the programme would continue, with £5 million committed over five years. The announcement coincides with the launch of the programme’s new strategy, With Fairness in Mind.
The strategy will focus on addressing the stigma faced by people with long-term and enduring mental health problems and people who experience multiple types of discrimination due to wider identities relating to race and ethnicity, disability, sexuality and gender identity.
Daniella Day, See Me volunteer co-ordinator, added: “Our campaigning, influencing and actions are driven by a social movement of people across Scotland who are determined to end mental health stigma and discrimination, and our volunteers are central to this.
“To coincide with the focus of our new strategy, it’s really important that our volunteers represent as many different communities and experiences as possible to reflect the diverse experiences of people with mental health problems in Scotland.
“Stigma and discrimination can have a devastating impact on the lives of people with mental health problems. It can stop people from getting the right help and support, it can cause people to lose their jobs, it can leave people isolated and, for young people, they can find themselves being judged and dismissed when trying to reach out.
“Our volunteers help us to tackle this major barrier. We’re really looking forward to seeing what our new volunteers will bring to the programme.”
The See Me team will host online information days for those who are looking to find out more about the volunteering role on Thursday 7 October, from 2pm to 4pm and Tuesday 19 October, from 6pm to 8pm. This is an opportunity to meet the team and current volunteers, and ask any questions you might have about getting involved.
More details on the information days and how to apply can be found on our volunteering pages. The deadline for applications is Friday 29 October at 5pm.