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Mental Health Awareness Week

23 May 2012

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and it is interesting to see that mental wellbeing is the theme. The Mental Health Foundation is encouraging the public to do a good deed to feel good.  We have come a long way from the days of ‘mental health’ meaning ill health. And mental ill health being something that happened to other people.

When Forster launched the mind out for mental health campaign over ten years ago, we had to knock on many doors of media, partners and high street brands to get them to understand that mental health was universal. It was the first anti-stigma campaign of its kind in the UK and we were proud to go from zero engagement to listing MTV, Radio 1, celebrities and youth magazines as our partners in tackling stigma.

We recently completed a project with mental health organisation Time to Change where we helped them to develop their plans to target young people with anti-stigma messages. We ran some focus groups with a range of young people from 14 to 18, and apart from the shockingly huge amount of time now spent on Facebook, some things remain the same since our mind out days.

Most striking for me was that for the most disengaged and marginalised young people we spoke to, mental health was still a misunderstood and exclusive concept. Depression happens to other people, people with jobs and money and the luxury of time to recognise when they have a problem.

There’s obviously still a lot to do to make sure that the most vulnerable groups understand mental health, feel that there is help out there and that professionals understand them, their lives and their problems.

This very interesting project offers one way of bringing mental health services to vulnerable young people. I’d be really interested to hear about others.