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Speak Your Mind

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Speak Your Mind

Speak Your Mind (SYM) is a global citizen-led partnership with a collective purpose to unite national and international campaigning groups, individuals and influencers and demand progress for mental health around the world. It was developed by its partners, incubated and supported by UnitedGMH, working with a range of national and global organisations. Funders have included Comic Relief and HSBC.

 

SYM

 

Partner organisations from 19 different countries – including the United States, Argentina, the United Kingdom, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, India, Nepal, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Sri Lanka, Peru, Pakistan, and the Philippines – were involved. By working together, SYM has enabled partners to share learnings, build their advocacy and campaigning capacity, and inform global action to achieve mental health for all. 

The campaign launched on the eve of the World Health Assembly in May 2019. Since then partners have been involved in a range of global level advocacy and influencing initiatives and are primarily focused on seeking greater investment in mental health support, empowerment through more inclusive, accessible and humane public mental health systems, and education through national mental health public campaigns. 

 

 

History

Speak Your Mind has helped develop and deliver global campaigns and advocacy initiatives including increasing the profile of World Mental Health Day and raising mental health up the global agenda.

The partnership first met in person in South Africa in January 2019 to design and develop joint activities and to share insights and learning. They met again, with a similar agenda, in January 2020 in Kenya, and in 2021 (virtually). In between there have been a series of national workshops to strengthen national level campaigning and influencing work; and to connect global and national activities.

World Health Assembly and UNGA 2019

At both the WHA and UNGA, Speak Your Mind partners addressed large gatherings of policy makers to raise the profile of mental health on the global stage. With multiple speaking opportunities and events, the voice of CSOs working on mental health, particularly those from LMICs, was heard clearly at this level, often for the first time.  

World Mental Health Day 2019: #40seconds

In 2019 Speak Your Mind launched a voice petition which encouraged everyone to speak their mind for #40seconds and tell their governments why they need to take action on mental health.

The petition received support from the Secretary General of the UN, António Guterres; the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern and other senior public figures such as the Director General and Secretary General of Red Cross and Crescent Movement, Elhadj As Sy; Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore; Secretary General of World YMCA, Carlos Sanvee, as well as author and comedian Stephen Fry and the cast of Emmy Award-winning musical, Dear Evan Hansen.

The campaign action was replicated by multiple partners around the world and was also taken to Davos 2020, where Speak Your Mind called on leaders to act with one united message, it’s #TimeToInvest in mental health.

Museum of Lost and Found Potential

In 2019, SYM launched the Museum of Lost and Found Potential in partnership with HSBC. The London-based pop up museum revealed the stark and powerful picture of human potential that is lost globally to people, families, communities, businesses and society due to neglected mental health and suicide, by sharing 16 interactive portraits of people from around the world.

Using video, sound and real or imagined artefacts, visitors were transported to lost and found chapters in the lives of the people whose stories are told in the museum. These poignant personal stories demanded that more be done to support mental health across all aspects of our lives and in every corner of the world, and helped inform ideas for future storytelling to campaign for better mental health. 

Return on the Individual Report

The Return on the Individual report turned the traditional approach to return on investment on its head and, for the first time, made the wider social and business case for investing in mental health and for putting people at the heart of investment.

Conceived at the first annual Speak Your Mind global meeting, the ROI report showed that investing in mental health creates a ripple effect of returns across families, communities, businesses, economies and societies. It has been used globally and nationally to advocate for greater investment. Work on this area of focus has been continued by the Global Mental Health Action Network’s financing working group.

COVID-19 Open Letter 2020

In May 2020, SYM launched an Open Letter calling on world leaders to protect the vulnerable by integrating mental health into all COVID-19 response and recovery plans. The Open Letter was signed by more than 1000 experts, business leaders, renowned scientists and those working on the frontline from over 40 countries. It was launched to coincide with new guidance and a public call by the UN Secretary General and UN agencies for greater action on mental health which insisted countries must integrate mental health in their COVID-19 plans.

 

World Mental Health Day 2020

As part of the  World Mental Health Day 2020 campaign, Move for Mental Health, Speak Your Mind partners hosted the first ever virtual March for Mental Health which brought together experts, activists and lived experience advocates from around the world. The online march, which livestreamed for 24 hours and attracted over 30,000 views, put a spotlight on young people, LGBTQI+ communities, human rights of those with mental illness, dementia, and mental health in emergency crises around the world. 

The Move For Mental Health campaign reached over 500 million people and called for individuals around the world to move together to demonstrate the demand for greater investment from governments, businesses, and funders, so that everyone, everywhere has someone to turn to in support of their mental health.

PARTNER IMPACT

Since 2019 Speak Your Mind partners have made progress in every country to help improve mental health.

Public engagement

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Taskeen produced an animation video about mental health and the pandemic which they distributed through national TV channels in Pakistan and a study on the mental health impacts of COVID-19 on low income communities. Their biggest achievement came in September 2021, when they signed an MOU with the federal government, agreeing to support them with the Public Mental Health information campaigns and strategic input.

Raising the political profile of mental health

In the Philippines, Vice President Leni Robredo voiced her commitment to further action on mental health in the country at the virtual March for Mental Health on World Mental Health Day 2020 following advocacy efforts led by #MentalHealthPH. Thanks to the advocacy efforts of CAN MH, Sri Lanka’s Chairman of the Election Commission, Shri Sushil Chandra, highlighted the concerns raised by people living with psychosocial disabilities at a press conference in July 2021.

Policy changes and commitments

A number of tangible commitments have been made as a result of the hard work of Speak Your Mind partners. Tonga approved its first-ever national Mental Health Policy – a policy developed by the Ministry of Health, and the founder of the Tonga Mental Health and Disabilities Association (as SYM partner). In Liberia, Médecins Sans Frontières and Partners in Health made commitments to provide psychotropic medication. The Liberian Ministry of Health also made a commitment to increase the budget allocation for mental health. This was a huge success for Cultivation for Users Hope, who are advocates for increased access to mental health medication and greater financing.

 

What's Next?

SYM partners continue to meet regularly, to share information and to support and learn from one another. Their network has helped CSOs working on mental health, particularly those from LMICS, to better connect with one another. Several of them are taking leadership roles in the Global Mental Health Action Network (GMHAN) as it builds a community of over 1500 members with dedicated working groups in areas members are keen to work collaboratively to achieve change.