Skydiving for Mind

Below, members of the Acrophobics share their thoughts on what the group has been up to and describe some of the challenges involved in fundraising on this scale.

Considering that going up to the top floor of Selfridges leaves me with heart palpitations and sweat studding my palms, you would have thought I’d have given more consideration to jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet. No doubt someone will push me out whilst I grapple to get back safely on firm ground. Already, there have been jibes that I’ll spend the rest of my life after the skydive crawling around on the pavement trying to avoid any sort of height. The support is appreciated.  Despite this, we are all more than prepared to undergo the terror of free-falling for the sake of the mental health charity, Mind.

Each year, 1 in 4 people experience a problem with mental health. That means right now, as many as 231 girls from Kings Norton Girls’ School are struggling directly or indirectly with mental health issues.  Each deserves support and understanding and that is why we are aiming to raise at least £4000 so that Mind can continue to provide information to sufferers, as well as maintain their crisis services and helplines for those who need them most.

A huge number of the individuals who have already donated on our Just Giving page have made reference to how worthwhile a cause Mind is and, as psychology students, it is a charity that is particularly close to our hearts as we can see firsthand how debilitating it is to suffer with anxiety, major depression and disorders where there is no cure such as schizophrenia.  For some of us, the work of Mind hits closer to home as personal experiences with mental health in our own families have seen Mind lend a helping hand.  Mind are able to support young carers and help them understand that family members’ problems with mental health are only one part of their loved one, and no matter how infuriating and distressing it is to see a parent deteriorate, it is possible to find a way back to them with advice and support.

Still, the work of Mind is needed because of the stigma attached to psychological disorders, with derogatory terms such as ‘disturbed’, ‘psycho’ and ‘crazy’ in common use.  Mind’s work is critically important because a great many people are unwilling to talk about or seek help when they experience a mental health problem, often because they are worried about such prejudice and misunderstanding.  Of those individuals who have spoken out, nearly 9 out of 10 say that stigma and discrimination have had a negative effect on their lives.  By fundraising for Mind, we hope to help dispel these stereotypes.

Part of the challenge of getting our fundraising going was getting ourselves noticed, but having just studied the topic of persuasion, we put our newly acquired skills to the test. As difficult as it is to string together a compelling sentence with only 140 characters, an evening spent inundating friends, celebrities and academics with Twitter requests (instead of doing homework)  showed the willingness of internet strangers help us raise awareness by spreading the word. It presented a bit of a predicament when the figurehead of Mind, and ardent tweeter, Stephen Fry, decided to have a break from social media. Planning at its best. Conveniently, we were able to exploit the Twitter fame of a one @cdarwin instead. Thank you!

We have already managed to surpass one of our fundraising goals and have raised our first £1300. The support we have already received, from relatives, students, friends and from teachers (who were willing to put the paintwork of their cars and bikes on the line in our car wash) is wholeheartedly appreciated. As spending cuts hit hard, it is even more important that Mind receive funding so that they can work to promote mental health needs. It isn’t easy, but Mind can make life seem a little bit better, a little less like a hardship, by offering support at critical times. For this reason, we hope you will support our fundraising efforts.  Thank you.

Emily Cave, Year 13

Our fundraising for Mind; the mental health charity has required a lot of perseverance. It’s been almost a month of email writing, cake selling, car washing, display-board making, group-photo taking, sweet talking and general pleading in order to reach just 25% of our target. We still have 5 months to go and already ideas are running short. We’ve come to realise that unless you can think of an idea that both grabs attention and requires few resources; you’re going to find yourself at a loss and believe me, it’s so much harder than it looks.

Through spending endless hours discussing ideas, organising events and motivating each other to keep going: we’ve already become better friends and a stronger team than originally predicted. Not only do we feel that we now get along better but the numerous pupils and teachers who have given us both support and motivation have also made us feel more like a community. This, together with the awareness we have raised of Mind, is the biggest achievement.  It seems more than necessary to remind individuals that have experience of mental health problems that there are people there to support them and make a difference.  Even if that means that, as a team, we have to motivate each other to get over a fear of heights before our skydive, or write to over 100 individuals and businesses to get donations, or sit and speak openly about our personal experiences of mental health, we’re more than willing to do it so that we can show our commitment to a cause that we know helps numerous individuals and families around us.

In addition to all that, we’ve also found our own strengths. I now manage to develop an idea for fundraising on almost every walk to school and try to share and develop it with everyone else.  A teacher has even suggested that I go into charity marketing, which is a career that I would have never considered before our fundraising. We’re able to use skills and talents that we can’t use in our A-level subjects and it reminds us that we’re more than just the essays we write. It’s also a constant reminder that we can be the difference we want to see in the world and this doesn’t have to be a chore.

Hannah Saul, Year 13

Being part of the Acrophobics is a pleasure and has taught me a number of things already. Firstly, it was obvious we weren’t going to raise £4000 through your standard cake sales; we had to think differently and creatively and string together a variety of different ways to reach our target. In a team of 12 determined individuals, ideas come easily, however turning these fundraising ideas into events requires more than just the 12 members turning up to meetings.

To organise each fundraiser, every member of the group has to take on a role and learn to rely on other team members to fulfil their part so that the event runs smoothly. I have been able to develop my organisational skills in alliance with my other team mates to help ensure that every deadline is met for each of our fundraising events. I have also had the chance to meet and engage with different members of the community at a number of companies who, even if not able to support us financially, have shown their support for our campaign and a willingness to promote our cause. Joining such an ambitious campaign has led to a sense of pride in myself and the rest of the Acrophobics, as we know the money we raise will make a substantial difference to Mind, a charity we all are passionate to help. Finally, I am happy to be part of a project in my final year of KNGS which means we all leave school having made the most of our time in the sixth form.

Gemma Ryan, Year 13

Please donate at www.justgiving.com/acrophobic  or text PSYC51 to 70070.