The Public Health Agency (PHA) is launching its ‘Under the surface’ multimedia public information campaign on Thursday 6 October 2011. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the early warning signs that could indicate a mental health issue and encourage people to seek help.
‘Under the surface’ will be broadcast from 10 October (World Mental Health Day) to 20 November (National Suicide Survivors’ day) and will be carried in local press, on radio, TV, online and on the campaign website www.mindingyourhead.info
‘Under the surface’ builds on previous PHA mental health promotion work and campaigns, including the award winning ‘Don’t cover up your problems’, by:
• addressing the stigma associated with mental health;
• promoting recovery;
• highlighting the range of issues which can have a negative impact on mental health;
• encouraging help seeking behaviour.
Launching the campaign, Health Minister Edwin Poots said that early intervention to tackle the warning signs of mental health difficulties is a vital first step. He said:
“Getting people to recognise and act on the signs and symptoms of poor mental health is a challenging message to get across. Too often people are reluctant to seek help because there is still a degree of stigma attached to mental illness. Seeking help early and early intervention, help to prevent a problem from deteriorating. We must eradicate this stigma and ensure that people regard mental health in the same way as physical health. A person’s first instinct when they experience symptoms of poor mental health should be to seek help.
“This is particularly important when you consider that untreated depression is the major risk factor for suicide. With 313 deaths by suicide recorded in 2010, suicide prevention and mental health promotion remain at the very top of my priorities.
“Positive mental wellbeing helps a person to develop their potential, work productively, build strong relationships, develop a sense of self worth and contribute to their community. It is fundamental to a good quality of life.”
The Minister continued: “Building on the work that has already been undertaken through the rollout of the Promoting Mental Health and Protect Life strategies, the campaign will highlight wider societal issues, such as debt and relationship difficulties, that can impact on a person’s mental health. As with suicide prevention, it will require action across government and all sectors to tackle this problem effectively.”
Speaking at the launch, Mary Black, Assistant Director of Public Health, PHA, said: “The PHA has a leading role in promoting mental health and wellbeing and reducing suicide. This is a challenge for everyone. We are aiming to address mental health issues by working in partnership with the community, voluntary and statutory sectors across Northern Ireland, delivering the recommendations of the Bamford report; the Protect Life suicide prevention strategy and the Promoting mental health strategy and action plan.
“The campaign message of ‘Under the surface’ is – if you feel that your problems are getting on top of you, you can do something about it, like talking to a friend, family member or someone you trust.”
- A booklet, Steps to deal with stress, is also available to download by clicking here and at www.mindingyourhead.info. It includes self-help exercises as well as details on local support.
- The booklet will be available at the end of November from a wide range of organisations including CABs, social security offices, health services facilities and community and voluntary groups.
Notes to the editor
- One in five (19%) of people in Northern Ireland scored sufficiently high enough to indicates potential mental health problems. (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Northern Ireland Health and Social Wellbeing Survey 2005-06. Belfast: Central Survey Unit, 2006.)
- Mental health problems are characterised by alterations in thinking, mood or behaviour. For those who are at risk from, or experiencing mental health difficulties, the right support can help recovery and enable them to regain a positive sense of health and wellbeing, something that is important for everyone.
- Following the award winning campaign Don’t Cover Up Your Problems, evaluation revealed 82% awareness of the campaign messages. Of those that were aware of the campaign 58% were encouraged to do something positive in relation to their mental health, 8% sought help for self and 6% for someone else.
- When reporting on suicide, or suspected suicide, please abide by the Samaritans/Irish Institute of Suicidology media guidelines, available at: www.samaritans.org/pdf/IrishMediaGuidelines2009.pdf. These are not the same as the PCC guidelines.
- PHA partnership work also includes the Lifeline crisis response helpline (0808 808 8000) to support those in distress or despair. It is a confidential service, where counsellors will listen and help. They are trained to provide support a range of issues including, anxiety, depression, trauma, abuse, self-harm and suicide.
- A booklet, Steps to deal with stress, is also available to download at www.mindingyourhead.info and includes self-help exercises as well as details on local support. The bookelt will be available at the end of November from a wide range of organisations including CABs, social security offices, health services facilities and community and voluntary groups.
- Promoting mental health – strategy and action plan: http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/promoting_mental_health.pdf
- Protect life: a shared vision. The Northern Ireland suicide prevention strategy and action plan: http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/phnisuicidepreventionstrategy_action_plan-3.pdf