On the 21st February 2012 miners discovered the largest pink diamond ever to be mined in Australia!  The Argyle Pink Jubilee weighed in at almost 13 carats and was estimated to be worth at least £7 million.Gem.jpg

Meanwhile in Wales pink was also the colour of the day;  pink balloons, pink pens and white T-shirts adorned with pink writing: the great and the good, drawn from all across the Principality, were there to celebrate the launch of Time to Change Wales at Cardiff’s Millennium Centre.

I was in the company of many of the Time to Change Wales team who were at the start of a journey with the aim of ending the stigma and discrimination faced by those of us with mental health problems.  The excitement and anticipation in the air was palpable.  This was a huge challenge with the potential to change so much for so many.  This was big!

Whilst I was happy to enjoy the atmosphere I was also conscious that I had been invited to the evening’s launch as a speaker as, at that time, I was a member of the campaign’s management board.  Fortunately I played my part and all was okay but what really stands out from that evening was being with a group of people all sharing a common vision, and with such passion.

Dave Smith speaking at the Time to Change Wales launch in February 2012

Writing this in January 2016, I am now part of the Time to Change Wales team.  The campaign is now in its second phase and after 4 years of hard work and determination the team still has the same passion and the same drive to see change in Wales but there is now a much, much larger team.  This larger team consists of hundreds of people who give their time and talent freely to make Wales a better place.  They are involved through sharing their stories (in person and via blogs), taking information stands to venues across the country and by having conversations regarding mental health stigma and discrimination as they go about their day-to-day lives. 

Living with a mental illness is tough.  There are days and sometimes weeks or months where life can be almost unbearable.  What many of us find fairly simple or routine can be horrendously difficult when your day’s co-pilot is mental illness.  Add to this the ways in which many have faced poor attitudes or behaviour from others because of a health condition and life can be pretty miserable.  In fact, the behaviour of others can be a greater burden than the condition itself.

Mental illness has no favourites.  It does not matter how much money you have in the bank or whether you have a university education or not.  Yes, there are mental illnesses which only affect a smaller minority such as Bipolar or Schizophrenia but we can all be affected by depression or stress.  Mental illness WILL affect at least 1 in 4 of us but Time to Change Wales gives us all an opportunity to look at the way in which we all treat each other.  We can ALL get involved. 

One day someone will write an article looking back at a time in history when people were treated differently because of having a mental health condition.  Readers will be informed that along with racism and women’s rights that there was a battle fought against mental health stigma and discrimination and as they read they, like me, will find it hard to fathom but be grateful for a changed Wales.

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