Tamanna Miah: My year of campaigning
This Saturday, as part of our national members day, we will be presenting the 2017 Janey Antoniou Award to a campaigner who has made an outstanding contribution to bringing about change for people with mental illness. In this special blog, our winner for 2016 Tamanna reflects on her year as our Janey winner and how we can all make a difference.
Since I won the award I have been involved in a number of initiatives. I have been actively involved in campaigning for better mental health care since my early teens, partly due to my own and others’ experiences of mental illness. Highlights of my work include joining the Young Leaders panel at the WHY (What’s Happening for the Young) festival at the Southbank Centre in London and screening my Fixers Racial bullying film. I really enjoyed sharing my campaign experience and the challenges, and inspired the young audience to aim high and fulfil their potential. Other highlights include winning the first Young Upstander award at the first National Hate Crime awards 2016 for starting my Fixers racial bullying campaign and film at CCCU university and looking at the impact on mental health. It was also great to be invited again to the Welcome Collection’s ‘Human Library’ event in London to share my own experiences on issues such as mental illness, bullying, race, religion to address stigma and prejudice in society. I also delivered a mental health session to a group of vulnerable young people and youth workers at the Octavia foundation.
A key focus of my campaigning work is speaking up for and reaching those who might otherwise be overlooked, such as people from the Asian community. I was invited onto various outlets such as BBC Asian Network and Islam Channel to talk about suicide, mental health, racism and bullying and how my personal experience of these things has driven my desire to bring about change. Often the first conversation can be the biggest step to take by raising awareness of mental health issues and addressing stigma people from all backgrounds will be encouraged to get help with their own mental health, rather than suffer in silence.
I also attended the Mental Health Takeover designed on behalf of the Department of Health and the Young People’s Health Partnership where young people came together with senior NHS decision-makers for a youth-led day of discussion, activities and debate to inform Government policy-making to form a report on improving access to mental health services for young adults aged 16 to 25. I represented Youngminds reception in Parliament to launch the HelloYellow campaign and was involved in Jungle Creations and Hook’s mental health videos. I also was involved with Mind’s work on peer support and how we can all support each other more in our communities. I gave evidence at the Youngminds and The Children’s Society inquiry examining the impact of social media on mental health and emotional wellbeing as well as the steps social media companies are taking to tackle such behaviour on their platforms, and whether the industry is going far enough to protect children and young people on their sites. I spoke at We Make Change’s event and talked about the history of how I started campaigning on the factors affecting mental health such as bullying, racism, abuse and more.
I’ve also been involved with a number of things at Rethink. I represented at the Black Mental Health roundtable at parliament to discuss mental health in the education system and in policing. It was good to also hear from David Lammy’s thoughts on the BAME mental health. I undertook debate training as part of the Anna Freud centre and reached the final at Facebook HQ for the Debating mental health competition! I represented Rethink at the #MyMindAndMe #1XTRA event talking about mental health issues, stigma and discrimination in the BAME community with BBC Radio 1 Xtra and BBC Asian and talked about my own experiences. With an interesting panel of guests Adam Deacon, Mim Sheikh and a performance by Hussain Manawer and Nick Brews! I participated in the Lloyds banking group photoshoot, and also learnt a lot at their workshop on money and mental health which was very useful. I am also part of the organising group for two Rethink Co-Production Tri-borough projects: Invisible struggles mental health event in December for young people under 25 and Collective voices where we train teachers in schools about mental health. I’ve also continued to be a Rethink Young champion delivering Co-Production Mental health workshops to young people on transitions to those in London under 25 to educate and inspire them. I also became a Mental health facilitator trainer assisting in recruitment and delivering training for World Youth Organisation #WYOeducate programme that has linked up with Step Up Transitions project to educate as many young people as possible.
I plan to host the Children’s Society’s video series social media campaign on young people’s wellbeing and factor’s affecting their childhood. I have also been approached by a publisher to publish a book on mental health which is quite exciting - something to tick off #tamsbucketlist! I hope to reach more people and continue working with likeminded people and organisations.
This year I am really proud on my own I challenged myself to start a fundraising campaign to personally prepare food and drink to those to the homeless in Ramadhan and managed to raise over £330 in 30days and provide over 90 foodbags and 30 hot meals in some parts of London and in Canterbury whilst fasting, this project changed my life and helped my mental health others too. I became known friends to them in a short space of time. I learnt so much about the homeless, about their mental and physical health and their stories, which was heartbreaking to hear. By doing this project I have removed my own stigma around the homeless. A life changing experience. I will never think badly of the homeless again.
It is crucial to stand up for what you believe in, especially on behalf of those that can’t, change can take time, do not be disheartened if at first you don’t succeed there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
Are you a campaigner who is making an outstanding contribution to improving the lives of people with mental illness? Maybe you know someone who is? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find out when the 2018 nominations are open.