Charity calls for more support for mental health sufferers


By Cara Sulieman

MORE THAN half of Scots with mental health problems are excluded and discriminated against, is was revealed today.

With one in four of the country’s population suffering from some kind of mental illness, the organisers behind Scottish Mental Health Week are hoping these statistics can change.

Today, friends and family of sufferers released messages of support into the sky in a bid to raise awareness to the campaign.

The charity ‘see me’ are calling on people to make small changes to their own behaviour and support friends or family who may have mental health problems.

They say that it is helps people cope better with their illness.

Tom Pavey suffered from depression and said that his parents’ support was invaluable in helping him deal with it.

He said: “I can honestly say that I would not be here today if it wasn’t for the support of my Mum and Dad.

“My depression was dominated by a feeling of loneliness even when amongst friends and family; you think no one cares about you and as a result you don’t care about anyone else.

“I had become withdrawn and I didn’t open up to anyone about how I was feeling because I just didn’t know what was going on.

“Opening up to someone that cares about you unconditionally allows them to help to gain this insight that is not possible on your own when you are depressed.

“I first told my parents one Christmas about my diagnosis and suicide attempt.

“I expected there to be emotion and panic, even anger. But instead the response I got was calm and considered and this has been a theme ever since.

“This openness and ultimately security has given me the ability to open up to other people and make friendships that are emotionally open and ultimately very rewarding.

“While there have been ups and downs in my mood for sometime, a constant has been the supportive connection I made when I was first honest about my illness to my parents all those years ago.

“That remains my main tool for recovery and inspiration for life.”

Research shows that discrimination can slow down recovery and damage the confidence of a mental health sufferer.

Suzie Vestri, the ‘see me’ campaign director’, said that she hoped Scots would take inspiration from Mental Health Week and do more to help others.

She said: “People struggle to see how they can make a difference or worry that they might say or do the wrong thing and make things worse.

“The truth is that helping someone with a mental health problem is actually very simple.

“Talking, listening and being there for loved ones can help to make a real difference to those experiencing stigma.

“If we each commit to spending five minutes this week supporting a friend, family member or colleague with a mental health problem then we can really make a big difference.”

Minister for Public Health Shona Robison said that although attitudes are chaning, more improvements can be made.

She added: “The Scottish Government is committed to improving the quality of life of those experiencing mental health problems.

“We recognise the importance of the support of friends, family, colleagues and professionals in achieving this.

“‘see me’s work in tackling stigma and discrimination has reached out to people across Scotland, and has contributed significantly to a positive shift in public attitudes.

“However, there is still work to do, and we will continue to take action to break down stigma and allow people to seek the help and support they need.”

More information on mental health issues and the stigma surrounding them can be found on the ‘see me’ website