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“I don’t know anyone with mental health issues…” Is that what you’re thinking?

I know several people who have experienced mental health issues at some point in their lives, in some cases recurring and for others isolated incidences, but even as I’m writing this I don’t know whether I should admit that I’m one of them.

  • NHS figures suggest that at any one time 1 in 6 people are suffering from mental health issues, however most charities suggest that during a year 1 in 4 people will experience mental health issues.
  • 1 in 250 people self-harm – this is one of the highest rates in Europe. (Self-poisoning and self-injury in adults, Clinical Medicine, 2002.)

But how do we really know the figures? Some people never seek professional help due to the stigma that surrounds mental health.

So I thought I’d try and talk about mental health: try and stop the stigma. I’m all for stopping it being something that’s swept under the carpet, a topic of conversation to be avoided at all costs, on the basis that “you never know what might set them off”.

Attitudes towards mental health can be ridiculous. I found myself arguing that an assembly addressing concerns about self-harming that was being given to the girls should also be given to the boys. It was pointed out to me that there weren’t any boys known to be affected by this issue. It’s like suggesting we only talk about sexual health to the kids we know are in relationships!

I visited the website for mental health charity SANE and was greeted by the words “Let’s stop stigma. Change mental health for good.” That’s a big aim, but I’m happy to be writing this post to try and be a part of it. I’ve also sent a small donation and taken part in their campaign, ‘Messages of Hope’ – sending a public message of support and hope to those who are currently struggling with mental health issues.  http://www.sane.org.uk/how_you_can_help/message_of_hope/

I’d be really grateful for any comments you might wish to share – let’s talk about it.