Let the conversation begin.
Breaking Down the Wall of Mental Illness Shame, Silence & Stigma with an Innovative Community Mental Wellness Initiative - Hope Xchange TimeBank
I am a suicide survivor. I am also a "highly-functioning" bipolar (well most of the time!) and founder of Hope Xchange Nonprofit, for bipolars by bipolars. I'm also blessed with an amazing family and genuine friends that have simply keep me alive. But let's face it. Not everyone has the support system I do and not everyone survives.
Regardless of which side of the aisle you sit on, hopefully we can all agree with the cold, hard facts: the U.S. government has abandoned the mentally ill and, as a result, society's 'throw-aways' are now behind bars or on the streets or, at best, socially outcast on disability and shrouded in silence, shame and stigma.
Surely, we as a society can do better. Something has to be done and it's up to each one of us to play our part. Mental illness does not discriminate. It affects us all.
How Can Time Banking Help the Mentally Ill?
Imagine this: a tight-knit connected community where everyone matters. Where everyone has value. A place where hope lives. We're building it. The doors of our TimeBank, to be launched later this year as a prototype in San Diego’s Uptown community planning area, are open to all to mitigate the social isolation of vulnerable people (whether due to age, disability or mental illness), to eradicate the silence, shame and stigma of mental illness, and to reweave hour-by-hour the community ties binding neighbor-to-neighbor.
Hope Xchange is adapting a successful innovative and collaborative community-based model called a TimeBank and is leveraging its benefits on behalf of those who are most vulnerable. TimeBanks, which are now popping up all over Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom as well as in the States, have proven that they do indeed empower those who are socially isolated and restore hope to not only vulnerable people but to the community as a whole.
Our Uptown TimeBank is modeled primarily after successful TimeBanks established in New Zealand and is in line with best Time Banking practices. It is a collaboration between Hope Xchange and our fiscal sponsor, the Bipolar Parenting Foundation, and it is the first TimeBank prototype being built with the mentally ill top of mind.
In a study conducted by the European Commission's Joint Policy Research Centre, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies examining the effectiveness of TimeBanks across the European Union, the authors stated, "It is clear from the evidence that TimeBanks have a track record of rebuilding personal and local social networks effectively, improving physical and mental well-being and improving employability.
It has been demonstrated that TimeBanks have the potential to improve well-being and mental health, to enhance the effectiveness of public services, and to promote entrepreneurship and self-employed business ventures (particularly for women). In particular, regarding socially-isolated vulnerable populations, the European Commission study found:
What is Time Banking?
The concept is simple. With Time Banking, everybody's time is equal. No matter what type of work is done, 1 = 1. If you give one hour's work, you get one-hour time credit. If another member does one hour's work, he/she is paid a one-hour time credit. Everyone is equally valued.
This concept of Time Banking was originally started in the USA by Edgar S. Cahn and has spread around the world. Time Banking works because it acknowledges the value of work that supports family, community and democracy but which is not rewarded in our money economy.
What are the Core Values of Time Banking?
Why Join a TimeBank?
Time Banking brings a richness to members' lives. As a concept, it brings "wealth" in the form of friendship, caring for one another, having needs met from within our own community and getting help with tasks we can't readily do. Skills which are often taken for granted are valued -- especially non-market economy skills -- like mothering, basic home help and caring, listening, fetching and carrying.
As a result of Time Bank exchanges, over time a richer community develops where friendships form between people of different backgrounds, where the elderly and infirm are being cared for, and where people with special needs are encouraged to participate. Time Banking builds relationships and trust in a community. Everyone has something to contribute to the wellbeing of the whole.
What Skills Can Be Exchanged?
You can offer any skill: things you're good at, things you enjoy, hobbies or talents. Some of the skills Time Bankers offer include: cooking, gardening, child care, pet care, language / art / music / computer lessons, peer-to-peer mentoring, knitting, sewing, transport for shopping or doctor's appointments, painting, bookkeeping, puppetry, preserving, nurse-aiding, photography, setting up electronic equipment, technology coaching, compost-making, proofreading, graphic design, ladder work, parenting help and resources, craft work, car and bicycle maintenance, companionship and much much more. The sky is the limit!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What if I don't have any time credits?
Each person joining during our first year of operation will receive one free time credit. If you don't have any credits left at any point in time however, keep on trading! Time Banking is not about balancing the books. It's about trading skills in the community and reciprocity. For the system to work properly, everyone will move in and out of balance at different times.
2. How is the Uptown TimeBank different and how does it help the mentally ill?
We've made many enhancements to the basic Time Banking model to enable reaching and helping the most vulnerable in our communities, including:
In year one of operation, nothing. However, in order to be self-sustaining and to cover our TimeBank's operational costs in subsequent years, there will be a sliding scale membership fee where we ask you to pay whatever you can afford. To make sure that no one misses out in years 2, 3 etc, there is also a time alternative of four hours work for a "Community HopeBank." Volunteer for us for 4 hours and you're in. TimeBankers can also donate their time credits to the Community HopeBank for someone else to use, e.g., maybe people who need extra help when frail or unwell, or to local community groups. It's more often that not, that most run a surplus of time credits, i.e., give much more than they get.
4. How is the TimeBank run?
TimeBanks work best when there is a paid Coordinator who manages membership and organizes and keeps track of trading. However, in our early stages, we hope to also have separate Coordinators for membership and outreach who are volunteers and who earn time credits for their work.
5. Are there policies in place for children and vulnerable people to ensure their safety?
In line with best practices, we've adopted policies around working with children and vulnerable people. If a TimeBank member is working with children or a person considered vulnerable, he/she will need to read and sign the appropriate policy. If policies are violated, membership will be revoked. In addition, any recipient of care may request a background check prior to trading which we will assist with.
6. How will you know that the prototype is working as hoped so that other communities will adopt it?
As a model, our project budget includes an independent evaluation, the results of which will enable us to further time banking best practices and facilitate adoption of our model to restore hope to the mentally ill in other communities. A formative evaluation will be conducted to gauge practices that strengthen the implementation of the TimeBank prototype. Additionally, an assessment of TimeBank members will be conducted to assess the impact of the program on participants' social and emotional wellbeing.
7. How can I help break down the wall of stigma and let hope shine through for the most vulnerable amongst us?
If you believe in our vision, please help us by sharing our crowd-funding campaign link with kindred souls on our Timebank website SHARE page.
About Hope Xchange (Project Sponsor)
Founded in 2013 by Kerry Martin, Hope Xchange, for bipolars by bipolars, offers innovative and collaborative programs to empower the bipolar community to help itself and thereby restore hope. Recent studies indicate 50% of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder try to commit suicide at some point in their lives, with 20% actually succeeding. Hope Xchange’s goal is simple: to change these statistics. We are privately funded by our Founder's cause marketing consultancy, Apical Marketing, and by private donations. Our team is passionate about the differences TimeBanking can make in our lives and to the depth of community it creates.
About Social Good Fund (Fiscal Sponsor)
Social Good works to create and establish positive influences for individuals, communities and the environment, sponsoring and developing projects to rebuild local communities as healthier and happier places to live, work and be. For more information on how Social Good is helping ‘build the world we wish to see,’ please visit http://www.socialgoodfund.org.