Putting your mental health first at the Hardest Hit march
Posted Monday 9 May 2011
It's not often I get excited about a Wednesday morning, but I've had 11 May marked in my diary for some time. I’ll be marching with Mind as part of the Hardest Hit campaign to protest against unfair and untenable cuts by the Government to vital benefits and services for disabled people.
At Mind, we know how much mental health issues can interfere with everyday tasks, and from coversations on Mind’s Facebook page, Twitter account and this blog, I know there are people who want to protest but are worried about marching, for mental health reasons.
I want to reassure those who are coming (and those who are still undecided) that we’ve carefully thought through how the event could impact existing mental health problems, and suggested ways you can limit distress to yourself, and support that we'll provide on the day. If you’ve not yet decided whether to come along and march, why not read our tips and find out the support that’s available, and see how you feel on the day.
Before you come
Firstly, anyone with a history of mental health problems who is planning on marching should read this short practical guide to putting your mental health first ahead of the day.
Small steps can help prevent you becoming unwell: carry a bottle of water, bring enough medication (in its packet, in case of over-zealous police security!), make sure your phone is charged. There will be factors at the event that are potential triggers; crowds, queues, noise and being in an unfamiliar place can be daunting and destabilising. But knowing your triggers, and thinking through coping strategies that have worked for you in the past, is key to keeping well.
Secondly, read through this information pack about the day and wider campaign, distributed by all organisations involved in the march.
Having a clear idea of the route you'll be walking and time schedules for the day's events can provide a source of reassurement and control in a new environment. It'll also help you plan how much food and medication you'll need to bring, as well as how to get to the quiet room at Methodist Central Hall.
We’ve arranged a meeting point for those who want to meet up and walk with Mind, a short walk from the march 'starting point' at Victoria Embankment.
Come to Embankment Gardens, right next to Embankment tube station, between 11 and 11.45am, if you want to march but don’t want to come on your own.
I’ll be there with a few colleagues wearing a blue Mind t-shirt; we’ll have free Mind t-shirts for those who marching with us, if you'd like one. At 11.45 we’ll walk as a group to join the main march for the 12 noon start. Walking with a few friendly faces can make a great difference when you're in a new environment, with lots of people. View the meeting point in Google maps.
At the march
There will be plenty of stewards at the march. They'll be wearing high-vis jackets so you can spot them in a crowd. Approach any steward if you feel unwell or need help or directions. Some of the stewards (and Mind staff) at the march will be specially trained in mental health first aid.
There is a quiet zone along the route of the march, should you need a calm environment. Any steward will be able to direct you to the Methodist Central Hall and the quiet room.
All of these resources, plus more, are downloadable from Mind's Hardest hit information page. Don't forget to register if you are coming, and select 'Mind' when the form asks 'How did you hear about this march?' so we can email you with any further details or changes prior to the march, and keep you updated on the Hardest Hit campaign (if you wish) beyond Wednesday.
Always remember to put your health first. If you don’t feel well or safe at any point during the day, tell a steward or a Mind staff member. Hopefully everyone who marches with Mind to support the Hardest Hit will have a fun and memorable day. See you there!
Anna Bacciarelli, Mind Communications
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