Speak Your Mind and the Blueprint Group: 2020 planning meetings – 5 things we learned

The week before last, campaigners, experts, partners and mental health professionals from around the globe gathered in Kenya for the Speak Your Mind and BluePrint Group meetings.

One year on from the initial campaign meeting in Johannesburg, attendees shared their experience from an incredible year of mental health campaigning and designed the future of Speak Your Mind together.

“For me the highlight of the meeting was really about interaction, meeting people from different teams and different countries and learning about their work.” – Ifedayo Ward, Director of MANI and Speak Your Mind Nigeria Campaigner

“The meeting was like coming up for a breath of fresh air. Coming from a country where mental health is not really discussed openly and seeing a room full of people that are passionate about mental health was really amazing.” – Naeem Dalal, WEF Global Shaper and Speak Your Mind Partner

“Thank you for creating this space where hundreds of people can come together – many with lived experience, to advocate, meet, strategise, and connect with the purpose to strengthen awareness and access to mental health support around the world. It was my first real introduction to both the SYM and BluePrint movements, and it’s been incredibly valuable.” – Emina Cerimovic, Human Rights Watch

In the same week, the BluePrint Group network of 500+ mental health professionals met in Nairobi for their 6th meeting, to plan how to create greater impact through joint communications and advocacy.

Both events were a huge success – here’s what the meetings have demonstrated:;

1. Tangible progress on mental health is possible

From campaigners changing policies and putting mental health on the global agenda at events like the UN General Assembly and Goalkeepers, to the BluePrint Group successfully advocating for the integration of mental health at the Global Fund and driving the #TimeToInvest message at Davos – this united movement has made unprecedented progress in the last year.

2. Collaboration is powerful

As part of the formal agenda, campaigners shared their successes, tactics and challenges in their own countries. They also helped each other shape their national and global plans in sessions such as the ‘Global Marketplace’.

Of equal importance were conversations outside of the meetings, where the sense of collaboration and unity was palpable – new country campaigns such as Peru established links with Argentina; established organisations in India worked with new Speak Your Mind campaigns in Sri Lanka and Pakistan to create a WhatsApp group and arrange monthly calls; and representatives from Sierra Leone were able to impart their knowledge from amending anachronistic legislation (the 1902 Lunacy Act) with Ghana; who are about to embark on the same challenge.

There are many actors around the world doing inspiring work in their own countries and contexts; but we know we are stronger and more able to make a global impact when we come together and speak with one, united voice.

3. The global movement is growing

The movement for mental health is growing fast. The BluePrint Group is now at 500+ members and Speak Your Mind has welcomed 4 new countries to the family – the Philippines, Peru, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – taking its total to 19. This year we were delighted to have 16 global partners join the meeting – their support helps us turn ideas into action and make progress possible!

4. Youth must be at the centre of this movement

The mental health community is putting lived experience at the heart of its movement. We are inspired by those that are designing and funding services, who are listening to these voices and shaping global approaches based on their recommendations.

Since mental ill health is the leading cause of disability for young people worldwide, they must continue to be involved and contribute as professionals and experts by experience, to design solutions to the issues that affect them

5. 2020 is the launch pad for a decade of action on mental health

At both meetings, attendees mapped opportunities for global action. The WHO’s Revised Action Plan on Mental Health (2021-2030) starts next year and will kick off a new decade of action.

2020 is therefore the time to mobilise and prepare for this and the opportunities it will provide. Our starting point is the launch in April 2020 of a new report in partnership with Speak Your Mind title sponsor, HSBC – the Return on the Individual (ROI) –  a report that, for the first time, gathers together the wide evidence to make the business case for investing in mental health.

We’d like to thank everyone who was involved in these meetings, for their hard work and dedication to making a world where everyone, everywhere has someone to turn to when their mental health needs support.

We really are stronger together.