One in four adults in the UK suffer from mental health issues. Mental health problems can effect anyone at any stage in their life; they can be triggered by the most traumatic of events or can seemingly spring from nowhere. Whilst we are often inclined to reduce mental health problems to depression and anxiety, it is important not to forget that issues such as schizophrenia, OCD and bipolar – to name just a few –also severely affect many people. With Stephen Fry as its patron, and campaign’s which have successfully impacted perceptions of mental wellbeing in politics, Mind UK has accelerated into becoming the UK’s leading mental health charity. It is because of this increasing involvement and dedication to the mental health cause in the UK that St. Mary’s College Fashion Show have decided to support Mind this year. As well as focussing on fundraising endeavours, they are also committed to spreading a greater awareness and understanding of mental health.
‘Time to Talk Day’ is an event which has taken place annually in February since 2008. Run by the charity Time to Change and led by Mind, the premise behind ‘Time to Talk’ is to simply start conversations about mental health. This is with the intention of reducing the stigma which surrounds the topic, and encouraging mental health to be more openly talked about in British society. On Thursday 2nd February, people across Britain got involved in the campaign via social media – creating youtube videos and logging their conversations on the ‘Time to Talk’website – as well as organising events on both local and national scales. Prince Harry showed his dedication to the cause through his visit to the London Ambulance Service, where he engaged with their efforts to improve how the frontline deals with mental health issues. In line with the campaign, St. Mary’s College held a Mind awareness and Q & A evening with their welfare team. The evening recognised the importance of sharing mental health experiences and learning how to empathise with those who may be suffering, also highlighting the sense of community which Durham’s collegiate system so greatly values.
Considered, for most of history, as a ‘taboo’ topic in British society, awareness about mental health has come a long way in the 21st century. In 2016 the NHS pledged to implement a more forward thinking view regarding mental health, increasing investment by £1 billion per year by 2020/21. (https://www.england.nhs.uk/mentalhealth/taskforce/imp/) Whether we as the public feel the benefits of these changes in reality will show in time. Nevertheless, it is through the successful work of Mind and other mental health organisations in putting pressure on the government which is prompting such pledges to occur. Equally, with the young generation getting behind the cause, as St. Mary’s currently is, we can only hope to create more positive change. It is promising to see that many people in Britain now believe that mental health should be taken as seriously and talked about as openly as physical ailments. The fact that they are not always visible does not make them any less real.
‘Time to Talk Day’ provides a great platform for starting conversations about mental health. However, Mind’s aim is certainly not restricted to engaging in mental health for just one day a year. Rather, their vision is for this to become an everyday precedent.
If anyone feels that they are suffering from mental health problems, please make use of the wonderful facilities that Mind UK offer as well as your college and university welfare and nightline services.
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