The Time to Change charity have recently released a short film encouraging men to look for the signs of mental illness in each other and offer some support. It sounds obvious but the campaign identifies that only a third of men feel comfortable talking openly about their feelings.
A number of social stigma’s prevented me from accepting I was mentally ill for years. Fear of losing my job and my dignity, fears of tarnishing my future with a permanent label, fear of accepting the obvious and looking weak. Of course I risked destroying all of these with mental illness anyway but never the less I resisted facing up to the facts for years. Were my fears unfounded? Sadly I think not. Stigma and discrimination towards mental illness does exist but things are definitely changing. One of the things that surprised me when I first opened up about my mental health problems was how many people had been there (or were there). One in four will actually suffer a mental illness at some point in their life but that statistic means virtually all of us will encounter it and be affected in some ways. When I started up the Metropolitan Police Mental Health network, we were deliberately open about who we were trying to support. As such our membership grew not only with those suffering mental illness, but from those who were supporting family and friends, or who simply wanted to make a difference.
Thankfully I had mates in my corner who kindly but firmly encouraged me to face up to my illness and seek help.
I would encourage everyone to watch this video and think about how you can support the battle to end Stigma. It will help to save lives.
If you are interested in how acupuncture could help with your mental health please email me here
If you need urgent help for a mental health problem you can contact the Samaritans here
For more information on Time to change and how you can be involved click here