Green Ribbon 2017 was my favourite year of the campaign so far. It was the year I started to see a real change in attitudes towards mental health.
In 2017 I finally started to see those around me take part, without any prior prompting by me! Local workplaces, schools, and friends willingly signed up to host events, hand out ribbons and promote mental health. These were little acts of kindness and small events that sparked conversations. From incorporating the green ribbon into health week at schools, to leaving them in their office canteen – these are the kind of small initiatives that create real change, raise awareness and save lives.
But I also saw much bigger change this year.
I attended the launch of the Green Ribbon campaign on 27 April 2017, and was impressed by the political representation at the event. The major parties were all represented at the event in the Mansion House, some sending more than one representative for the occasion.
Not only that, but politicians engaged throughout the whole month by wearing their green ribbons in the Dáil, attending the IFA’s Walk n Talks, handing out ribbons in their constituencies, and organising photo launches for Time to Talk Day.
And this wasn’t just political point scoring. These are the people who can put mental health on the political agenda. Who can provide us with more funding, more beds, and more key staff. There’s no point in wearing a green ribbon to tell people to talk about their mental health if there’s no one there to listen. I hope that having politicians from across all spectres onboard throughout May was a step towards achieving that.
The reality is that Green Ribbon and See Change have put mental health on the agenda.
Mental health has become something politicians, as well as my friends and co-workers, are no longer afraid to be associated with. There’s nothing glamorous about mental illness, and there’s nothing glamorous about putting on a green ribbon on your coat. But this year I felt the power in it; a show of support for me and others like me who’ve felt stigmatised, scared or alone because of our mental health. And it gave me strength.