Kate Langston, Senior External Affairs Officer, Money and Mental Health

Lessons from my time at Money and Mental Health

20 November 2020

When I first joined Money and Mental Health as an intern back at the beginning of 2018, I never imagined that I’d still be working here almost three years later. In that time, I have enjoyed so many opportunities to work on exciting campaigns, organise interesting events, and get to know some truly inspiring and talented people. 

As I come to the end of my final week here, I’ve been reflecting on the insights these experiences have provided into what makes an organisation like Money and Mental Health so effective in bringing about positive change. Some of this comes down to good use of fairly standard tools, such as social media and networking – but other aspects of this work are much more unique to Money and Mental Health…

The power of personal stories

One of the biggest privileges of my job has been the opportunity to work with our amazing network of media volunteers. In the few short years since the charity was founded in 2016, Money and Mental Health has established a reputation for high-quality research and innovative policy solutions. But facts and figures alone are rarely enough to bring about the changes we think are needed.

A lot of our work is therefore about finding ways to help the leaders and decision makers of the world understand why our research matters and why they should take action. This isn’t always an easy job, but one thing that helps drive this message home for many people is hearing our media volunteers share their personal experiences of struggling with their mental health and finances.

Given the dual stigma that society attaches to these issues, sharing stories like this publicly can take a great deal of courage. And whenever I speak to one of our volunteers, I never cease to be blown away by their passion to use their experiences to make things better for others in similar situations. So I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to every one of our volunteers who has shared their story – and to all of those who do so in future. We simply couldn’t achieve what we do without your help.

The power of cooperation

When I started at Money and Mental Health, one of the first projects I worked on was our successful Recovery Space campaign. Celebrating our unexpectedly speedy win with the team fuelled my passion for campaigning, and I’m delighted that before I leave, I also had the opportunity to celebrate a victory for our Debt Threats campaign.

Both of these campaigns relied heavily on working with politicians to influence legislation, and while there were many factors that contributed to their success, one crucial element was cooperation. When it comes to politics, it is very easy for things to become partisan, and to find yourself adopting an adversarial ‘them and us’ mentality.  But Money and Mental Health has long recognised the value of overcoming these divisions and working collaboratively across all parties in order to achieve a common good. 

That same spirit of cooperation is evident throughout our work: whether it’s supporting essential services firms to make their products more accessible to people with mental health problems, or collaborating with money advice charities to make it easier for people to get help with their debts. This approach may not always seem as easy, but it has proven successful in helping us make a difference time and time again.

Au revoir, not adieu

I may be leaving the Money and Mental Health team, but I don’t see this as the end of my money and mental health journey. Working here has given me a new, deeper understanding of the challenges that so many face when it comes to their finances and mental health – and to the many ways that society can help to address these. As I start on a new path, I hope to take these insights away with me, and find new ways to apply them. And as I do, I look forward to continuing to follow Money and Mental Health’s unstoppable progress from afar.