Join the movement to beat mental health stigma

Susan falconer cropped

See me is calling on people to make 2015 the year to beat mental health stigma

Graham Martin's photo

6th January 2015 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

A national movement is needed to tackle mental health stigma in 2015.

The See Me campaign says big changes must be made this year so that vulnerable people aren’t left with shattered confidence and facing discrimination.

It wants people to join together and take direct action to change negative behaviour when they see it.

This could include tackling stigma on social media or putting up a See Me poster in their work, encouraging discussion, so people with poor mental health know they aren’t alone.

Even though one in four of us will experience mental health problems, negative attitudes and behaviours are still common.

Denise Welsh

Denise Welsh

We deserve to feel safe and secure and live our lives without the fear of being judged and discriminated against - Denise Welsh

The latest statistics show that 47% of people wouldn’t want anyone to know if they were experiencing poor mental health and that 37% of people with mental health problems have experienced discrimination socially.

To change this See Me is asking people to sign up and join them in creating a Scotland-wide movement which will stop stigma and discrimination in its tracks.

It wants people to share with them their stories of successfully challenging discrimination, to help inspire others.

Susan Falconer (47) from Galashiels, pictured at the top of the article, said that she stood up to work colleagues after she was told things like “pull yourself together", "what have you got to be depressed about” and "well we can't afford for you to have another bout of this".

She said: “I asked them whether they would say the same to a person with a broken leg. Just because I don't have a plaster to say I am ill doesn't mean I am not.

“It has been hard working with people thinking you are going to break down at any given moment but I am not.

“I do have the odd blip but I am strong person and I am determined to make sure that people know mental ill health can happen to anyone.

“From speaking out, people at work have changed their attitude and now help others to understand.”

Denise Welsh, from Stirling, has also backed the calls, after she was discriminated against when working in a crèche

The 29 year old said: “It made me feel so small like I am a failure, I’m a worthless and can't do anything.

“It completely shattered my confidence. It felt like I didn't deserve to be in this work, like I'm not safe and unable to look after children.

“We deserve to feel safe and secure and live our lives without the fear of being judged and discriminated against”

Judith Robertson, See Me programme director, said: “The new year is the ideal time to make changes to your own behaviour, or work to help others in making a change.

“There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure everyone is treated equally, with dignity and respect.

“People with mental health problems are less likely to be in work, die on average of 5 to 10 years younger and experience verbal or physical abuse, all of which can be related to stigma and discrimination.

“Stigma and discrimination can make people who are mentally unwell feel worse. It can stop them asking for help and ultimately could be the difference between life and death.

“No one should ever be made to feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell anyone that they experience mental health problems.

“To help this we want people to make their resolution joining us and sharing their positive stories with us, looking at what works in challenging stigma.”

 For more information and to sign up to the movement, visit www.seemescotland.org