Following Care Services Minister Paul Burstow’s announcement that he is determined to give "mental health parity with physical health in the NHS”, and the Government recently funded a £16 million ‘Time to Change’ campaign to help tackle mental health stigma - there has never been a better time to raise public awareness about mental health issues.
One adult in six experiences symptoms of mental illness - and one in four will experience mental illness during their lifetime. Mental illness is the largest single cause of disability in our society and according to government statistics costs the English economy at least £77 billion a year.
Bradford College’s Vicki Gonzalez has been leading the way with her latest campaign to bring attention to mental illness.
Speaking about her latest initiative, Vicki said: “Bradford College’s World Mental Health Day’ raises public awareness about mental health issues, Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. The day promotes more open discussion of mental disorders, and investments in prevention and treatment services.”
Initiatives available during World Mental Health Day included: free fruit and water for staff and students, counselling services, pampering Indian head massage and giant chess. Support and advice was also available from ‘PAPYRUS’ - a voluntary UK organisation committed to the prevention of young suicide and ‘Mind’ - the leading mental health charity for England and Wales.
A number of leading organisations also attended the innovative event, including: Young Minds, SACAR – Specialist Autism Services, Samaritans, Counselling Services, Early Intervention in Psychosis and Bridge Project – Drug and Alcohol Support.
Physical and mental health are intertwined, studies have shown that people who are depressed, lonely and isolated are 3 to 5 times more likely to die prematurely than those who feel connections in their life.
Mental stress and depression can have a profound effect on a variety of physical illnesses such as: Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Cancer, Respiratory Diseases and Obesity - with implications on recovery.
Backing the ‘Mental Health Week’ initiative, Healthy College Manager, Jane Marshall said: “Mental health awareness has to be prominent in the College, as mental health problems affect 1 in 4 people. We need to highlight this and make it less of a taboo subject, as we’re all susceptible.”
Vicki concluded: “It’s important for people to realise that they aren’t alone and there are people in the same boat. There’s a lot of support not only in the College but also in Bradford and the West Yorkshire area to promote mental health and emotional wellbeing!”