The Public Health Agency’s (PHA) new mental health campaign is urging people who are feeling low to talk to someone they trust.
Almost one in five people in Northern Ireland at any one time show signs of a possible mental health problem and the new campaign emphasises that people experiencing anxiety, depression or despair can and do recover.
The campaign emphasises the importance of talking as the first step in the recovery journey and that recovery is possible from seeking help.
The campaign emphasises a number of key messages:
- The importance of communication;
- If you are feeling low, talking can help;
- If your problems persist, speak to your GP;
- Recovery is possible.
The campaign features a man who associates the feelings he is having with being in a fog, but when he opens up and talks to someone he trusts, the fog starts to lift.
Welcoming the new campaign, Health Minister Jim Wells said: “This thought-provoking awareness campaign highlights how issues such as depression can impact on a person’s mental health. Awareness of the early warning signs, seeking help promptly and getting effective treatment are the first steps in preventing more serious mental illness.
“Unfortunately, there is still a stigma associated with mental illness and this prevents many people from seeking help and impedes the recovery process. This new campaign seeks to address this stigma by making everyone more aware of mental health issues.”
William Smallwood (52) from South Belfast, has experienced depression over a 10 year period. For him the turning point came when he opened up to his GP for the first time. Speaking about his recovery journey, William said: “It was a difficult step to admit how I felt but it was the most important conversation of my life. She told me that I had clinical depression.
“I feel that if I hadn’t spoken to this doctor, I wouldn’t have been able to continue to cope. From that first GP conversation, and using the support services available to me, I have been building my confidence, self-worth, and self-belief, and using the new confidence to move forward and try to get the qualifications needed to get the work I would like to do. My message is to not be afraid to ask for help – you are not alone and recovery is possible.”
Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive of the PHA, said: “Many people go through times when they feel they can’t cope. If you’re feeling like this, you should know that you are not alone and you can get through it. Talking to a friend, your GP or calling Lifeline can be the first step towards recovery.
“It can be hard for many people to open up and admit that they are feeling low, but talking to someone you trust can make a big difference.”
The new campaign, which begins on Monday 1 December, will run across TV, radio, press and online. The campaign will run pre-Christmas and over the Christmas period as this is a particular time of the year when many people will experience problems with their mental health.
The media campaign is just one element of a major programme of work by the PHA on mental health promotion and suicide prevention.
To view the new advertisements, and for more information on looking after your mental health and the support which is available across Northern Ireland, visit www.mindingyourhead.info
You can also talk to your GP for advice.
If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. This is a confidential service, where trained counsellors will listen and help immediately on the phone and follow up with other support if necessary. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at www.lifelinehelpline.info
Notes to the editor
Almost one in five people in Northern Ireland at any one time show signs of a possible mental health problem. (Health Survey Northern Ireland 2013/14)