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World Mental Health Day, Sunday 10 October

It may surprise you, but some people in the UK live in fear, feeling stigmatised by mental health issues and without help. 

Their day to day lives are spent shut away in their homes, or on a knife edge, or in a swirling storm of uncertainty.  Stigma and discrimination towards those with mental health issues is a key reason why people don't access help and support.

This discrimination can affect all aspects of a person's life, including education, work and relationships.  Sometimes the stigma is worse than the mental health difficulty itself.

Yet, it doesn't have to be this way.

World Mental Health Day seeks to challenge these and other causes of inequality in this year's theme of 'mental health in an unequal world'.  At school, we will acknowledge the day and have some class-based activities around this theme.  However, the conversations need to occur everywhere.  Mental health needs to move to a level footing with physical health, where we all feel free to discuss and talk about it.

If a boy has broken leg, we don't think twice about going to hospital. But, if he is experiencing anxiety and low mood, does he feel he can tell anyone?  Do we know how to respond?  Are we as open as we could be and show our care freely?

This is partly why I became a Mental Health First Aid instructor - so I would know what to do in a crisis, just like physical first aid, and can help others to learn this too.

This week, start a conversation with a loved one about mental health.  And keep these conversations going.

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