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Reachout Challenge

Anti stigma and discrimination of mental illness
Hear Us / Reachout Challenge / Reachout Challenge

Change your thinking about mental health for the better

The Hear Us Reachout Project challenges perceptions and helps reduce the stigma associated with mental illness by training, supporting and informing the wider community.

The Reachout Challenge is Hear Us’ project focused on fighting the stigma and discrimination of mental illness. We are a team of people, with a variety of mental illnesses, who visit organisations across London to raise awareness. We encourage the organisations we work with to have a more ‘open policy’ towards mental health, enabling their staff to talk about their mental wellbeing without shame and embarrassment.

The Reachout Challenge continues to provide support to the Metropolitan Police’s crisis negotiating course at Hendon Police Training College in North London and also the same course, run twice yearly, at Maidstone Police Training College. These events give the officers a unique opportunity to ask us questions, about living with our mental health challenges, that they cannot do when they are ‘on the job’. The journey continues to be a challenge but we support each other to make it possible to do so. The appreciation shown and feedback we receive is one of the main driving forces to continue and to encourage new people to join us.

“This has been brilliant; I’d love to pass it onto members of my team back in my day role.  It has humanised mental illness and I cannot thank these people enough. Their openness and honesty is greatly appreciated and provided a glimpse into their personal life and struggles”. Croydon Police

A Reachout session takes a lot of planning. We begin the session with a presentation that includes ‘heads up’ where everyone gets a chance to talk about various diagnoses. We show a short clip emphasizing that mental ill health is invisible and a ‘fun’ Myths and Facts quiz. 

Participants often feedback that they learn far more with this model than they ever could in a classroom setting or by reading a book. During the second part of a session, we break away into small groups consisting of two or three volunteers and a number of participants, who then have very candid conversations about our diagnoses and experiences. We also encourage the staff to share any experiences they have had, either personally or professionally.

During 2019, we also had stalls at Croydon’s Gay Pride and Croydon Food Fest, where we were a roaring success, raising over £160.00. However, just as importantly, we managed to hold conversations with many members of the public about their mental health and wellbeing. We promoted services, available within Croydon, to people struggling with their mental health whilst raising the profile of what Hear Us do in the community.

Hear Us have been nominated as one of three charities named by Croydon Co-operative Stores for this year. The Co-operative raised £9323.45 for Hear Us’s The Reachout Challenge to continue to run valuable awareness training at community-based services; with the police or other organisations.  If you pick up and register a member’s card, you have the opportunity to earn money towards your shopping and vote for us, which increases the donation, that Co-operative Stores will have raised for us, during the year.

“Being part of the Reachout Project has helped me in so many ways. It has helped me build my very low confidence back up – enough to go back to work after four years – and increased my self-esteem. After watching other Reachout Volunteers, I was eventually confident enough to tell part of my story to police officers. This was so cathartic for me and helped me gain closure to a very painful period in my life. It helped me combat my fear of the police after a traumatic experience. Amongst other things I now help deliver training to SLaM staff from a service user perspective, to hopefully help improve the experience for other service users and carers” Reachout Volunteer

Organisation: If your company would like some mental health awareness training, please do contact me.

Volunteers: If you are interested in becoming a volunteer and would like to know more click here or give me a call to have an informal chat about how you would like to get involved

Barbra Davison
Reachout Challenge Project Lead
Hear Us
Orchard House
15a Purley Road
South Croydon
Surrey
CR2 6EZ
Mobile: 07749 156 828
Email: reachout.challenge@hear-us.org
Webpage: www.hear-us.org/reachout/