Conversations For Change is directed by people with lived experience of mental health issues.
They operated on this project under the group name of Creative Team and the work is unique to their ideas and efforts. By the final intervention there were 11 in the team, below are a few words from some of them.
I joined as I was curious about what direction it was going to take. It was so open.
My favourite intervention was the one on Queensferry Street, it was a busy lunchtime. There were two school girls passing. One of their school friends had been off with a mental health problem, but they had been advised by their school not to talk to her about it. I made the gentle suggestion that they ask the girl if she wanted to speak about it. They both looked at me as if I was coming out with a completely new idea. Based on my own experience of being teenager, the idea of asking someone directly, would you like that to happen, had never occurred to me as a teenager, and had obviously never occurred to them.
I was with Conversations for Change from the beginning. I have been involved in mental health education, advocacy and the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival since 2012.
This project wasn’t about our stories, but drawing out common experiences from our audience: many people told their stories, some for the first time. Others asked for our advice on how to discuss the subject with friends and family: many were scared of saying the wrong thing. I am proud that I could be honest about what had helped me and signpost people to some sources of help and advice. I am proudest of conquering my own internal stigma and prejudice that I would be judged by people about admitting my own experience of poor mental health. I have spoken up about a subject very close to my heart, and I think I have helped others in doing so.
I live in Leith. I work in Morningside, as a part-time care worker.
The reason I joined Conversation for Change was to promote awareness of mental health in different groups and settings.
I am proud of baking a cake for Conversations for Cake at the Mosque. I think that was my favourite intervention. Hearing stories about post-war stress from Syria to more domestic stories about people who support their loved ones through their difficulties including a man with who supported his wife who had bipolar disorder.
I do activism work on mental health as a volunteer. I also love dancing and travelling and meeting like minded people.
I got involved with Conversations for Change because I'm very passionate about mental health and all disabilities being recognised without stigma. I feel I've gained a lot of support for myself and also helped others.
My favourite intervention was Platform 2 at Waverley station, and also Conversations for Cakes at Edinburgh Central Mosque. Mental health is a difficult topic for everyday conversation, but not for me anymore. I pray one day that everyone can speak about mental health without stigma.
I enjoy spending time with my son and I work as a carer and educator. I got involved with Conversations for Change to raise awareness of and increase social justice and I’m proud of contributing my enthusiasm to a worthwhile project.
I hope that the interventions achieved a realisation that all of us have something to say and a need to be heard. I think that it remains difficult for very many people to communicate how they feel with regard to their mental health. I would say that my favourite intervention was probably speaking on Radio Ramadan.
Pam van de brug
I wanted to create some sort of public art project about mental health, and when I met people who were keen through CAPS organisation a few years ago, it finally happened.
Talking about other peoples mental health is something I can do very easily. Talking about my own feels a bit more complicated.
One of the best aspects of this project was sharing the many laughs and probably unique experiences with the Creative Team.
I also enjoyed many moments in unexpected places. For example, in a social situation or a meeting I might mention the project and someone will say, ‘oh I saw that at the train station’, or ‘I was part of it in the Meadows’, or some other such like comment.
I am a medical student in Edinburgh.
I was introduced to the project through my university personal tutor. I had been struggling to juggle my mental health and studying medicine. The team wanted to stage an intervention to start mental health conversations in the medical schools.
It has taken me many years to be open about my own mental illness, and I've faced stigma first hand in the workplace. As a society we need to start treating mental health the same way as physical health.
I was employed part-time in admin at the time of the project and studied part-time, but am now a full-time student in sustainable development.
The project was really profound for me in terms of contributing to a personal philosophy and purpose in life. For a long time I struggled with depression and despaired about how flawed and unequal the world is. And I fell hard into apathy. How do you navigate through such a complex life? C4C was a revelation for me. It showed just how powerful something so basic as conversation is. How undervalued it is, how it is taken for granted by so many of us. Conversation and listening are the two ways I think the world can be changed. I'd love to do more in their direction in the future, but it was through C4C that my eyes were opened.
I graduate this year from Edinburgh Napier University in Design and Digital Arts. I'm also a freelance event photographer and interactive designer.
I was conducting research about mental health and its treatment in our current society and so my course leader told me about Conversations for Change.
I believe designed interventions like C4C help soothe the representation of the topic of mental health for people to talk about it more easily. Another thing that I hope has been achieved is the realisation by mental health related organisations is how design interventions can get the attention of people and have them more involved and gathered in numbers than with traditional medium on potentially delicate topics such as mental health.
caps independent advocacy
Conversations for Change is hosted by CAPS - an independent advocacy organisation for people who use or have used mental health services. They provide individual and collective advocacy in East Lothian and Midlothian. They also host several experience-led projects across Lothian.
Conversations for Change is funded by See Me - Scotland’s programme to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination. Their vision is to enable people who experience mental health problems to live fulfilled lives.