Being in charge of a small organisation it never ceases to amaze me how much discussion has to go on in other companies to make things happen. EG in our recent Senior Faculty meeting it was suggested by our Health and Welfare consultant that we should offer our students a quiet space during the lunch hour for those people that wanted it. Within the hour that suggestion was implemented, because I could unilaterally make a decision to take a studio and designate it to be that time. Now I'm not saying that this is good...if I suddenly became power crazed I could equally have opted to make that studio something far less helpful to the students' welfare. Fortunately though I'm reined in by a very opinionated faculty, and an extremely interested Board of Trustees who watch my every move.
Having worked in larger organisations, I know that big decisions like opting into the #time4change Charter can take a lot of work. For example Rose Bruford signed the Charter this week. A massive decision by a major and prolific UK college. Behind the scenes I'm aware that Pat O'Toole worked patiently within her role there until the college were comfortable enough with the Charter to sign. Here's my point really - are YOU in an organisation that needs to sign the Charter? If so....please get that bit between your teeth and stay with it. Don't take no for an answer. Come back to us if there are bits that you disagree with, and let's find a way together that will enable your organisation to sign up.
The world will only change if each and every one of us takes a stand for what we believe in.
Should your college sign the charter? Let them know your feelings about it. Ask them to read it. Send it to them. Explain to them how it works. Take a collective responsibility to get this discussion up and running.
If you do one tweet in support of the charter, as amazing as that is, it is lost within seconds. Social media dictates that we live in a 'rolling news' world, everything lives for around 1 minute(if that really)....after which more news comes in, and the original post is already forgotten. Those people that follow me on twitter must dread those couple of hours that I've spent every day trying to get this message across, as there's suddenly a deluge of posts talking about Mental Health. Yes, there are better ways of spreading the word, but we have no budget, and that's all I can spend is time. . . time to keep talking, because I know that I just have the hit the right people on their TimeLines once. It's a bit like the roulette wheel. I have to keep rolling that ball.
I said today in a tweet that if Equity, Spotlight, the ITC and Drama UK got behind this initiative it would be job done for me. Imagine a world where with your annual Equity diary you got a copy of the #time4change Charter and a Mental Health MOT sheet (Angie Peake's idea again....not mine). Check in with yourself how you were doing, and have an annual check that things are ticking along nicely. Any niggles that raise the red flat on the MOT sheet, get yourself along to the Doctors for a check up. Simple. Go safe in the knowledge that our industry understands mental health issues as well as we understand physical health issues.
We almost need a mental health equivalent to 'Physio Ed's' don't we? A one stop place where people can get affordable therapy without feeling any shame or embarrasment for being there.
So...the campaign wades on. Suddenly organisations that have forgotten about my emails are suddenly responding with me, and arranging meetings...which is just brilliant. Here's hoping that for each of these organisations there is a Pat O'Toole amongst them, that won't give up until the company/college/organisation is signed up. To be continued ;-)