Changing your mind

Time to Change champions promoting the project in Walthamstow
Time to Change champions promoting the project in Walthamstow

Time to Change champion Persia Tofangsazan on how the mental health programme can transform people’s lives

In any given week, nearly one-in-five of adults in Waltham Forest will have a mental health problem.

Anyone could fall into this statistic; a nextdoor neighbour, work colleague, or maybe even you. Unfortunately, it’s common for those who have experienced a mental health problem to become the victim of discrimination.

These issues are what Time To Change, the nation’s most ambitious campaign of its kind, aims to tackle. Waltham Forest is the first borough in London to have its very own Time to Change hub. It is made up of Time to Change ‘champions’ – a community of people of all ages, genders and backgrounds who have faced challenges at some point in their life.

Last month, these champions took to Walthamstow Town Square to open their ‘human library’ to the public, bearing stories of those who have had raw, first-hand experience of mental health problems. I am one of these champions, as a sufferer of anorexia, and together with the other champions I described my struggle; from turbulent truths to rewarding recovery.

ADHD, depression and personality disorders were just some of the experiences shared. The aim? To intrigue passers-by and spark crucial conversations which could save lives. We transformed our stories into ‘books’ with an artistic and antique semblance, where alongside our volunteer librarians we were able to engage in discussions which may not occur on your average day, in the hope of changing perspectives.

Discussing my struggle with anorexia, a man shared his experience of falling into what he described as an “inescapable” hole of fad dieting. He was grateful to find he was not alone. Time to Change is not limited to our human library; there is a vast collection of projects already running in Walthamstow, largely led by our extremely talented and dedicated champions. It includes events such as laughter yoga, dancing meditation and an elder Asian lunch and share session.

The campaigning does not cease here. We also plan to take our human library to Waltham Forest College in the near future, to engage with a totally different audience. The Time to Change hub is open to all who have experienced mental health problems. Could you become a part of this empowering movement?

For more information about Time to Change: