Interview: campaigner Laura Moulding discusses mental health, gender equality and our #DeedsNotWords campaign

Laura Moulding is a 21-year-old student at the University of South Wales and a Time to Change Wales champion. Laura has talked about her experiences of depression with psychotic symptoms on TV and radio, and hopes to help end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness. Here we catch up with Laura following the launch of Hafal’s 2018 summer campaign, #DeedsNotWords, to get her views on gender equality and mental health.

A hundred years after suffrage do you think we have achieved gender equality?

I think we have reached gender equality in a few areas, but there is still a lot of change that needs to happen. For example, there is still an issue with working-women’s pay. And also there’s still this thing where people believe that women should ‘just stay in the kitchen’, whereas we are free to do whatever we want and can achieve whatever we want.

What are the key mental health issues facing women today?

Both men and women can suffer with mental health issues. However, I have found that it’s mainly women who are faced with eating disorders and I think that’s due to all the people who are constantly attacking women’s weight and commenting on what they eat. Another big challenge is postnatal depression.

Why do you think there is a need for the #DeedsNotWords campaign?

I think that there are women that face specific challenges that have not been addressed in any other campaign. Specific points such as ‘promoting psychological therapies and challenging the default use of drug treatments for Anxiety of Depression’ is of relevance to me as I thought that therapy produced the most positive outcome regarding my treatment. I believe that each of us can find an issue that we have personally faced at some point in our life and can find comfort in knowing that there is such an organisation that advocates on our behalf.

What do you hope we’ll achieve with the campaign?

Better gender equality and fairness for women. I believe women have to put in an extra effort to be accepted. I hope this campaign will help women be able to have an equal voice in every matter.

What changes would you like to see in the way women are treated or perceived?

I’d like to see women being treated better, for sure. Women are perceived as the weaker gender – I’d like to see more understanding. Although I have never been officially told I had an eating disorder, when I tried to speak about my eating habits and problems I was completely dismissed; they didn’t even let me finish speaking.

Also, I was told never to have children because of my mental health difficulties despite being well enough and able to cope. Why should women not be allowed children due to having something like depression?

Which women have inspired you, and why?

There are a lot of women who have inspired me. My Mum raised me and home-schooled my sister and I until we started college. She faces her own health problems but still continually smiles and is always there if I need her. She was the first person I spoke to about my mental illness, and has also been there for the majority, if not all, of my mental health appointments. She also spent many years being my official carer.

My sister is another inspiration. She also has health difficulties, but still manages to accomplish anything she sets her mind to. From being home-schooled, to college, to sixth form, to university (where she got a first) she had difficult times but she pushed through them. She’s always been strong and has always been an inspiration and role model to me. She gives me so much support and faith in what I do. I’m proud of her.

I have also always been inspired by my favourite author Cathy Cassidy. Since I was seven years old I have read her books and have always looked up to her. I’m very fortunate to have been able to message her. She’s also amazing with trying to make a difference to people’s lives. For example, she helped to lead a protest to keep libraries open and has recently written a book about a young refugee. She’s strong and capable of doing anything – I look up to her so much!

The #DeedsNotWords campaign runs from July to September 2018 and will include 22 county events. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the date of your local event! Follow the campaign on our Facebook and Twitter pages or visit www.hafal.org/deedsnotwords/