The Road To Kenya: Speak Your Mind plans second year of action on global mental health
By Elisha London, CEO of United for Global Mental Health
Campaigners designing Speak Your Mind in Johannesburg in January 2019
One year ago, campaigners, partners and experts from around the world met in Johannesburg, to design Speak Your Mind - a nationally-led, globally-united campaign now active in 19 countries.
The optimism at what can be achieved by starting the first global mental health campaign was incredible; and was converted into a year of action and success - our campaigners have organised events, changed policies and put mental health on the global agenda like never before.
Amina J Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN at the launch of Speak Your Mind during UNGA in September 2019
I believe the success of Speak Your Mind is testament to its nationally-led, globally-united model, and the incredible partners around the world putting it into place.
What do we mean by this? Historically, many global campaigns have been designed in the global north and bring token representatives from countries to attempt to bring an authentic voice to global meetings.
Encouraged by experts who have seen this top down model of campaigning create noise but not translate into real change - we decided to do things differently.
Speak Your Mind campaigner Joshua Duncan at a community event in Sierra Leone
We have made the effort to genuinely know the mental health communities in many countries around the world who are already leading efforts for change, and asked, ‘how can we support you?’. So, at that meeting in 2019, campaigners worked with and learnt from each other. They set their own national objectives and plans based on their expert local knowledge.
Together, we also determined what was common amongst all countries - the call for more investment, education and empowerment. Each country led their own national work, and we at United for Global Mental Health, along with our network of global partners supported them when they decided to come together, globally.
TIME and Kaiser Permanente’s panel on mental health at Davos 2020 featuring Naeem Dalal and Miranda Wolpert
Thousands of people from around the world have engaged with the campaign by signing the #40seconds voice petition and demanding their leaders to act on mental health. Signatories include high-profile figures such as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and actor and campaigner Stephen Fry. See the 40 second compilation video here.
Through the Speak your Mind campaign we are already seeing change happening at the country level - always led by those who are championing change in their countries.
In the last year, the government of Tonga tripled its mental health budget, the government of Sierra Leone committed to reviewing its 1902 Lunacy Act and the government of Nigeria banned the dangerous pesticide, Sniper.
The progress achieved in 2019 is proof - we are stronger when we are together.
Next week, nearly 80 campaigners and partners from 20 countries are reuniting in Kenya, to review their progress from 2019 and plan the campaign’s next steps.
They are joined by campaigners from Speak Your Mind’s new countries - Peru, the Philippines, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
They will also be participating in advocacy, financing and communications workshops in order to strengthen in-country activities as well as jointly planning for global moments in 2020 and into 2021, such as the World Health Assembly, the UN General Assembly and World Mental Health Day.
Campaigners at the meeting in Johannesburg in January 2019
Our campaigners set off on the road to Kenya having achieved so much already in just one year. Yet, we also know that this is only the beginning of an unstoppable movement to ensure everyone, everyone has someone to turn to when their mental health needs support.
Follow their journey - #RoadToKenya.
Keep up to date with the Speak Your Mind campaign global meeting via our social channels @gospeakyourmind.
Get involved with Speak Your Mind in 2020 by adding your voice to our global petition.