Using my voice
My experience of getting involved with Money and Mental Health
Living with any ‘invisible’ disability is challenging in many ways; not least having to validate or justify oneself when other people can’t see what’s wrong. I can find myself resentful of my disabilities, so I try to seek different things to do, all as positive as I can manage, that help me cope.
One of these coping strategies has been to engage with organisations and charities in a way that allows me to have a voice on mental health issues, and to use it to help promote a better understanding of mental health and other fluctuating needs. These experiences are both validating and rewarding.
The research panel
I’m now a member of the Money and Mental Health research panel. It’s a particularly exciting opportunity as they are newly established by Martin Lewis.
l took part in one of their first focus groups, which concentrated on spending habits in periods of poor mental health. We discussed various spending behaviours that manifest as coping strategies and the impulsivity driving these. Our aim was to brainstorm what solutions could help to better manage those spending habits. Some of the ideas discussed included how financial institutions could help by placing notes on bank accounts indicating the customer doesn’t want access to new credit, or sending alerts for large or unusual spending patterns when they arise.
The benefits for mental health, mine and others’
The act of using my voice to contribute by educating and sharing experiences is empowering, cathartic and extremely rewarding.
Joining a focus group is something that adds to my wellbeing and quality of life. I feel energised when I leave a meeting and particularly so when we learn that some change or improvement has been achieved as a result of our input. It is important for all of us to feel valued and this is certainly a route worth exploring if you want to help make a difference; as a member of the research panel for Money and Mental Health, you are doing exactly that.
Everyone is welcome, in fact it’s really important to make sure that the panel includes a diverse range of people from all different backgrounds. I would highly recommend getting involved. Social interaction is good for our confidence and self worth and I really feel like my voice is being valued – which is good for my mental health, as well as helping other people.
If you have lived experience of mental health problems you can use your voice to help Money and Mental Health by joining our research panel. Focus groups are just one of the opportunities we will invite you to, you’ll also have the chance to take part in surveys and trials and to tell us what you think we should be working on to change things for the better.