Mind Cymru is a mental health charity which campaigns to improve services, raise awareness and understanding of mental health in Wales, providing advice and support. This includes enabling full social participation, removing inequality of opportunities and discrimination, improving support (including recovery) and ensuring informed choices for those suffering mental health problems. Local Minds play a key part in this effort. These are centres within local communities (Cardiff’s is situated in Roath) run by local people, offering service such as supported housing, crisis helplines, drop-in centres, employment and training schemes, counselling and befriending. Alongside this Mind Cymru are currently co-running a campaign in partnership with Hafal and Gofal, called Time to Change Wales. One of most positive aspects of this campaign is called JustBeAFriend. This encourages people to be open to talking about mental health with their family and friends. Unlike a broken leg, a mental health problem can be hard to see so it is all the more critical that we as individuals are aware of this and do what any good friend would; little things which can make a huge difference. This can include simply asking friends or family if they are ok over a cuppa, giving them a call or inviting them out for a walk.
Other major achievements include the Mental Health (Discrimination) Act 2013, which removed the last significant forms of discrimination from law and the Parity of esteem which ensures that mental health is treated equally with physical. Mental Health Act 2013 included repealing legislation that prevented people with mental health problems from serving on a jury, being a Director of a company or serving as an MP.
During my time volunteering at the organisation so far, I have been able to participate in lots of activities, including team meetings with Mind’s Head of Communications and I feel my opinions, input and contributions are genuinely valued. I feel confident within what is a positive and relaxed atmosphere, which is not surprising since it is an organisation which fights for everyone’s wellbeing, no matter their background. As such, this reflects a very real truth; mental health issues can affect us all and the majority of people will experience one form of it during their lifetime. At Mind my social anxiety doesn’t prevent me from doing so like in other situations and so, as with SNAP Cymru I feel I can express myself. As such, I can clearly identify with Mind’s overriding objective and purpose; that everyone in Wales who experiences mental health problems gets the respect and support they deserve. Similarly, I have made good friends through forming positive working relationships. Along with SNAP this has been my first significant experience of interacting and making relationships within a real working environment and overall, an experience I truly value.
Reflecting on my experience as a whole, I firmly believe I can develop on both a professional and personal level here and achieve much more in the future. I am also developing key skills I can take into my chosen future communications career.
My time back in Cardiff after graduating from university and returning to home in Northern Ireland so far has been a challenging but rewarding and very interesting experience that I wouldn’t change for the world. Consequently, I look forward to seeing how my future in Cardiff unfolds and what new friends I will make.