Touchstone has been awarded a Time to Change grant to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination in black communities inLeeds.
Time to Change isEngland’s mental health anti-stigma programme run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and funded by the Department of Health and Comic Relief.  The programme is distributing grants to local community-led projects as part of its drive to improve public attitudes and behaviour in relation to mental health.
Touchstone will use the grant to establish meaningful and open conversations with others in the local area. The aim is to bring people who don’t have mental health problems into social contact with those who do. Evidence suggests that this kind of contact is one of the most effective ways of breaking down stigma and discrimination.
Plans for the project include supporting African and African Carribbean volunteers who have direct experience of mental health problems to talk to their peers about how their lives have been affected.  Touchstone is working in partnership with black majority churches in the city, and Leeds Mind Inkwell project, to challenge myths and stereotypes about mental wellbeing.
Steph Lewis, from Touchstone said: “We are delighted to have received the Time to Change grant. We have bold plans to really transform the way people in our local community see mental health problems by encouraging conversations and offering them the chance to find out more about mental illness.
“Just a few small words can make a big difference to someone with a mental health problem and talking about the issue can really help to break down the stigma and discrimination.”
Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, said: “We know that one of the most powerful ways to change attitudes is when people take the lead in driving change within their own communities.  What works in one community may not work in another, so through the grants scheme we are putting the power to make change happen locally in the hands of the experts – the people who know their communities the best.
“We were impressed by Touchstone’s proposal and we hope to see some excellent work coming out of their local community.”