Tackling stigma

AS a society our attitude towards mental health is more enlightened now than ever before. Charities such as Leeds Mind and Help for Heroes have worked tirelessly to help raise awareness about what is a complex, and sometimes misunderstood, issue.

Then there are courageous individuals like former RAF officer Jon Knott, from Doncaster, whose career was ended by multiple sclerosis and led to a dramatic loss of self-worth. He has spoken candidly about his own mental health battles and how with support from the Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds (HHHW) project he has been able to find renewed purpose in his life.

There is growing understanding among our political leaders of the importance in providing the resources needed to combat what for too long has been a taboo subject, with the Prime Minister having already promised to champion the issue.

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But as we mark World Mental Health Day it still remains a stigma with many people either afraid to seek help, or uncertain where to go for support. Stress, depression and anxiety still blight Britain’s workforce, with mental health problems the leading cause of absence, costing the economy more than £8bn.

However, this doesn’t only afflict adults. A poll carried out for the YMCA of more than 2,000 young people, aged between 11 and 24, found that 38 per cent felt stigmatised.

It is a stark reminder that mental health problems can beset people of any age and from all walks of life.

They cannot be swept under the carpet and it is only by raising awareness and talking about the issues that we can tackle them together.