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Beyond the Stigma campaign marks World Mental Health Day | Sandwell Council

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Beyond the Stigma campaign marks World Mental Health Day

Published 10th October 2021

Beyond the stigma
Beyond the stigma

West Midlands-based charity Changing Our Lives, in association with Sandwell Council, will mark World Mental Health Day on Sunday 10 October with the launch of the Beyond the Stigma campaign.

Beyond the Stigma is a digital book and social media campaign, which brings together South Asian women from across Sandwell to share their stories, to challenge the stigma that surrounds mental health within their communities and to encourage others to engage in the conversation. Having good mental health is central to our wellbeing and to do this we need to build strong and resilient communities.

As part of the project Changing Our Lives facilitated virtual creative workshops with award winning poet and spoken word artist, Shareefa Energy, to explore how the arts can be a powerful way to share experiences and challenge myths.  The workshops supported self-expression and celebrated identity and value, giving women the opportunity to explore ideas and develop their own writing and creative work.

This collection was developed by local women during the course of the coronavirus pandemic, a time in which mental health became a hot topic of conversation. Though conversations about mental health are more common place in the UK today, Changing Our Lives knows through its work, there is still widespread stigma within South Asian communities. 

Each story is an individual journey written in the their words and may include experiences of self-harm, suicide, depression eating disorders and substance misuse. The way these women experience mental health difficulties is no different to the rest of society. However, their encounter is often set against a background of cultural expectations which include pressures from family relating to gender biased customs.

Jayne Leeson MBE, CEO of Changing Our Lives said:

"Beyond the Stigma is a collection of real-life experiences of mental health difficulties as told by five South Asian Sandwell women, all brave and all defiant in the face of cultural prejudices towards mental health. It’s been our pleasure and privilege to have worked with these women to tell their stories as their experiences resonate with us all as human beings."

Councillor Suzanne Hartwell, cabinet member for adults, social care and health at Sandwell council said:

“I congratulate the women involved and Changing Our Lives for their bravery in publicly developing this campaign. It is important, particularly in these difficult times, that we recognise the importance of good mental health for ourselves and our friends and family. 

"To tackle mental health issues different people may need different solutions so it is wonderful to see innovative work like this being carried out throughout Sandwell." “

The digital book will be available on the Changing Our Lives website and the campaign will launch on Changing Our Lives social media channels via Twitter (@Positive_Lives), Facebook (@ChangingOurLives) and Instagram (@changingourlives). To contact Changing Our Lives about this campaign please email

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