Cam­paign aims to end stigma of men­tal health

The Oban Times - - News - SANDY NEIL sneil@oban­

NEARLY 30 per cent of Scots say they have ex­pe­ri­enced men­tal health prob­lems, ac­cord­ing to new re­search.

A YouGov poll of 1,004 Scot­tish adults, com­mis­sioned by See Me, ‘the na­tional pro­gramme to end men­tal health dis­crim­i­na­tion’, found that 29 per cent of Scots said they have ex­pe­ri­enced men­tal health prob­lems, and 39 per cent say a fam­ily mem­ber has. How­ever, 35 per cent said that ei­ther them­selves or some­one close to them had ex­pe­ri­enced stigma or dis­crim­i­na­tion be­cause of their men­tal health.

Some of the most com­mon ar­eas where this stigma oc­curs are in work­places, with young peo­ple, in health and so­cial care and with friends and fam­ily.

See Me has said that the first step to end­ing this stigma is for every­one to feel con­fi­dent speak­ing about men­tal health and to be there for each other. This year it will fo­cus on mak­ing this change from a young age, with its ‘ What’s On Your Mind?’ pack now avail­able to schools across the coun­try to down­load.

Calum Irv­ing, See Me di­rec­tor, said: ‘We all have men­tal health, it can be up or it can be down, any of us could strug­gle at any point. To treat some­one dif­fer­ently be­cause they are go­ing through a tough time isn’t fair.

‘How­ever, we know that stigma isn’t al­ways in­ten­tional. Peo­ple of­ten don’t speak about men­tal health be­cause they are wor­ried they will say the wrong thing or could make it worse. But if no-one speaks about men­tal health, then peo­ple won’t feel com­fort­able ask­ing for help when they need it.

‘A good new year’s res­o­lu­tion for all of us could be to open up a con­ver­sa­tion on men­tal health. You can do that with a sim­ple, “Are you okay?”

‘You don’t need to have all the an­swers, just talk­ing to some­one about how they feel can help. What we want every­one to know this year is it’s okay not to be okay, and it’s okay to speak about it and it’s okay to ask for help.’

Ear­lier in Novem­ber, See Me re­ported that the ma­jor­ity of young peo­ple in Scot­land don’t tell any­one if they are strug­gling with their men­tal health.

New fig­ures re­vealed that young peo­ple are not go­ing to fam­ily, teach­ers, car­ers and oth­ers who are re­spon­si­ble for look­ing af­ter them when they are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing neg­a­tive thoughts and feel­ings. To change this, See Me launched its It’s Okay cam­paign to sup­port young peo­ple through all the things that might af­fect or worry them.

A new video and web­site cre­ated for the cam­paign aims to help young peo­ple un­der­stand their feel­ings bet­ter and have the con­fi­dence and words to reach out to the right peo­ple for sup­port and guid­ance when they are strug­gling.

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