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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Mental Health Awareness.

Recently I have been really encouraged by the increase of adverts and campaigns in the public eye which openly talk about and promote the awareness of Mental Health/Mental Illness in society.
Rethinks' new campaign poster (2011).
Growing up I can't think of myself having any real knowledge or understanding of Mental Health problems or illnesses, other than opinions that were formed from watching TV programs, films or reading and hearing about incidents in the news/media.
So often the media portrays people with Mental Health illnesses and problems in a purely negative light which I believe caused the topic to not only become a taboo subject but one which evoked feelings of fear and allowed stigmas to develop.

At the weekend I was out shopping with my father when we both noticed how many disabled people we had seen whilst out, mainly those with Learning Disabilities -not only shopping themselves but also working in the shopping center. We began discussing how it wasn't that long ago that you would not really see those with disabilities, especially those with learning difficulties and also types of mental health problems out and about in the community. Although this is slightly steering away from mental health in particular, an increase in acceptance and integration of disabled individuals into society can only be applauded and encouraged. Along with physical and learning disabilities I believe Mental Health issues are also become more understood and less taboo.

Recently on the TV, in newspapers and in the media as a whole I have been encouraged by the increase of awareness campaigns and also positive stories which do not portray those living with mental illness as being 'monsters' as previous depictions have.
Also the increase of celebrities and well-known individuals speaking up about mental health issues is increasing and making it more of an understood and accepted part of society. After all statistics show that one in four will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year ( http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-statistics/).

Notably people such as Demi Lovato who has bipolar disorder and has suffered from an eating disorder as well as self harm, and Ruby Wax who has experienced depression are now using their status in the public eye to raise awareness of Mental Health issues and to encourage people to discuss mental health issues openly. Ruby Wax is also setting up a website/social network for everyone who suffers or knows someone who suffers from Mental Illness. Its a brilliant way of providing much needed information and support for those who truly need it. (Link to the site can be found below)

Hopefully these positive changes will continue to become more and more apparent in society and Mental Health issues will no longer be associated with stigma and discrimination.

Some brilliant organisations and campaigns surrounding Mental Health which are well worth looking at:
http://www.rethink.org/
http://www.blackdogtribebeta.com/
http://www.mind.org.uk/
http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

Kate.

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