LUSU agrees that it is Time to Change

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In Week 4 of Lent term, LUSU Gives hosted their second Time to Talk event. The event, organised as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, saw LUSU take the Time to Change pledge. The pledge, signed by both VP (Welfare and Community) Tom Fox and the Time to Change North West Regional Co-ordination Karen Machin, means LUSU are committed to helping reduce mental health discrimination. As part of the campaign, the Union must set out an action plan of what they’re going to do, and do their best to achieve it. Machin said “It’s great to have the university on board and building up the social movement.”

After signing the pledge, Machin gave an introductory talk about the Time to Change campaign, stressing that the campaign was a social movement by the people and not for them. One of the messages of the campaign was the power of social contact and “treating people as equals.” Machin emphasised how exchanging information between people who suffer from mental health problems and those who do not helps to “challenge discrimination.”

Like the previous Time to Talk event, the night followed by speakers sharing stories or poems they had prepared, which covered a variety of mental health issues that they themselves had experienced as well as witnessed. Following this, the floor was opened up to anyone else who had an experience to share, which received a great deal of responses from the audience.
Bowland Welfare Officer Shannon Regan, who contributed her story, said “after the first event I regretted not contributing and after anonymously sending in my speech for this event I regretted not reading it myself. “The event was such a safe space where many people felt comfortable enough to stand up and speak about their experiences even though they hadn’t planned to, which was incredibly inspiring and brave.”

Meanwhile Fox said he was “lost for words” by some of the stories. “It kind of shows that there’s a lot more to be done [regarding mental health awareness], not just nationally but here at Lancaster and with the atmosphere we create on campus,” Fox told SCAN. “There are still students who feel like they can’t ask for help. Even though we’ve signed the Time to Change pledge and we’ve got that extra counsellor, there’s still a long way to go.”

Mia Scott, Cross-Campus Officer (Charity) and VP (Welfare and Community)-elect said the night was definitely more emotional than the last event and that the speakers were “more personal.” Scott also said she thought the two representatives from Time to Change were brilliant and that “they didn’t come to the last event and I think it made a big difference that they were here.”

At the end of the discussion, Machin even suggested that the Union look into “making some value of the stories” and sharing them with next year’s students in an online blog, similar to the blogs Time to Change have. Scott said this was something she wanted to look into: “I’d really like to put a magazine together or an online blog of some sort, because as they were saying, it needs to be sustainable so we should put all the stories and poems people have read out at past events online to be viewed.”

LUSU Gives had invited a representative from the University to attend the event which Scott said she hoped would “spur them on to sign it jointly with LUSU next term” but the representative did not attend. However, Scott was still positive that LUSU could persuade the University to sign the pledge. Fox also said that lobbying the University to sign the pledge was still something they were trying to push. He said “The University are open to the idea and we’re going to work with them on that and hopefully by the time I’ve gone and Mia’s here, she’ll have a University that’s taken that pledge and is working towards mental health.”

Fox also told SCAN: “We’ve seen that they can do it when they want, but I think the more that we can get them to support us the more that we’re going to see those services get better and more going into supporting the students.”

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