Being a See Change Ambassador: what it means
May is Green Ribbon Month. We’re encouraged to wear a Green Ribbon to open up the conversation around mental health and help reduce stigma. See Change Ambassadors play an important role in this campaign, sharing their own lived experiences with mental illness to help break down prejudices. But what is a See Change Ambassador? Who are they and what do they do? In this week’s 3Ts Blog,See Change Ambassador, Gormla Hughes is our guest author. Here she shines a light on how she got involved and on her work in helping reduce stigma around mental health.
May 2013: I was standing at the bus stop, en route to work, when I saw a man, who for the third day running was wearing a Green Ribbon pinned to his lapel. So, curious, I asked him what it stood for. When he told me it was used as a way to open up conversations around mental health, I remember thinking—finally.
I wanted to contribute to this campaign in some way, so I did a Google search and found the See Change forum, where I left a comment. This was the first time I’d acknowledged my own mental health diagnosis on a public platform and I felt like Zena the Warrior. Several months later, See Change contacted me to ask if I would consider being a See Change Ambassador. I was delighted and agreed.
So, See Change provided me with Social Media and Media training around the role – how to engage with the media, that I have control over what I say or don’t say. I listened to testimonies from other Ambassadors on the impact of sharing very private aspects of yourself with others and, of course, learned about the emotional supports available from See Change itself.
Since then, I have spoken in businesses, CAS Spin-offs, been interviewed for print news outlets and written about my own experiences of living with a mental health diagnosis. I’ve even written some film reviews with themes around mental health.
The space I came from, was a time when I was told I would never work or have friends, or that I could even be sectioned if I ever told anyone about my mental health. Whilst it was nerve wracking to open up about my mental health at the start, my experience as a See Change Ambassador has empowered me and given me a confidence I didn’t have before. But mostly, it has given me an opportunity to contribute towards making a difference in changing the landscape, the stigma around mental health diagnosis and to meet some of the most wonderful, creative, smart humans, ever! And that feels special to me.
Gormla Hughes, Author