Great minds in Mental Health Awareness Week 2015

Mental Health Awareness Week 2015

Mental health. Two simple words which mean many things to different people. And for too many of us, they represent a deep and lonely world of darkness and discrimination.

There is still a long way to go to reduce the stigma that almost nine out of ten people with mental health problems say they experience.

Mind and Rethink Mental Illness jointly run a fantastic campaign called Time To Change, challenging mental health stigma and discrimination. Over 83,000 people have pledged to end mental health stigma and in the last week alone, 3,000 people have tweeted using the #TimeToTalk hashtag.

This last week has also been important for another reason: today is the last day of the 15th Mental Health Awareness Week (#MHAW15), run by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF). The MHF is the UK’s leading mental health research, policy and service improvement charity. Their previous Chief Executive perfectly summed up the MHF’s main purpose: to “mainstream mental health as an issue so it is a core part of everything else.”

This push to bring mental health issues into the mainstream is extremely topical. Not least has the recent election seen mental health included for the first time across many party manifestos, amidst calls for mental health to be treated just the same as physical health.

Mental health undeniably affects the whole of a person’s life. So in order to truly beat the stigma and discrimination often associated with it, we need to be opening up conversations everywhere. Whilst mental health charities play a vital role in leading this change, it’s also great to see other charities and organisations taking part in these conversations.

We’ve kept our eye on some of the great things people have been talking about over this Mental Health Awareness Week. It has been particularly inspiring to see such a wide variety of organisations being vocal about mental health issues. We wanted to share some of these with you here:

Shelter

Homelessness and mental health

Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity, has been featuring people’s stories about for #MHAW15 on Twitter. Mental health and homelessness is a two-way street: living in temporary accommodation can have very damaging health effects, both physical and mental. Shelter’s research also shows that people with mental health problems are at a greater risk of experiencing long-term homelessness.

StepChange

Debt can be a mind field

Debt and mental health issues are intertwined. StepChange is a charity that gives free debt advice to people, and works alongside the Mental Health Foundation to raise awareness and get people the help they need.

They have been reaching out to people throughout #MHAW15 with their Debt in Mind campaign.

Police forces

Insp Michael Brown

Police forces around the country are working to improve the way people with mental health problems are treated during emergencies.

@MentalHealthCop Inspector Michael Brown is calling for change and champions the way in which mental health teams and the police work together in street triage teams.

Forces such as Thames Valley Police and Leicestershire Police have been particularly active during #MHAW15, highlighting the work they are doing in this field.

Fitbit

Fitbit could help schizophrenia sufferers

Championing conversation around mental health isn’t just a role for the public sector and charitable organisations; there is also an important role for private businesses to play.

Fitbit, the wireless-enabled wearable devices that measure fitness and sleep data, is getting a lot of media coverage lately. But this isn’t just about the latest celebrity who has been spotted wearing one. An article on Wired.co.uk explains how Fitbit data could help schizophrenia sufferers avoid relapse – particularly newsworthy during #MHAW15.

So, let’s say it again: mental health, mental health, mental health. No stigma, no shame, just two conversation-starting words we should all be talking about.