With one in five of us in Northern Ireland showing signs of a possible mental health problem at any one time, a new media campaign is aiming to reduce stigma and discrimination towards those affected.
The first stage of the Change Your Mind mental health media campaign starts today. The campaign is supported by the Public Health Agency (PHA), the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health (Niamh) and Comic Relief.
The Change Your Mind campaign aims to reduce levels of stigma, discrimination, and negative attitudes towards people who experience mental ill-health. The first stage of the campaign will run until 25 September and will use outdoor advertising and social media.
Mary Black, Assistant Director of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement with the PHA, said: “One in five of us in Northern Ireland at any one time will show signs of a possible mental health problem. The other four will know a friend, family member or colleague who will be experiencing mental ill-health, so this is an issue that affects us all in some way.
“We want people to feel more confident in talking about mental health and to remove myths around this issue so that they will be encouraged to reach out for help when they need it.”
Peter McBride, Group Chief Executive of Niamh, said: “We in Niamh have long been committed to changing negative attitudes and behaviour towards those with experience of mental illness. Since running our own anti-stigma campaign in 2011 we have been working to deliver this regional campaign and are delighted that the PHA and Comic Relief are the key partners. This grassroots campaign will reach into schools, workplaces and wider society to encourage all of us to be open about our mental health, feel empowered to seek help and able to offer help to someone who may need it.”
Gilly Green, Head of UK Grants for Comic Relief said: “Comic Relief has a long history funding projects that address Mental Health issues. We are particularly keen to support services that work to improve mental health and wellbeing, and especially those that give a voice and a platform to people who have personal experience of mental health issues. We are therefore thrilled to be able to support NIAMH in partnership with the PHA on the Change Your Mind Campaign and hope that together we can reduce the stigma and discrimination that currently ruins so many people’s lives.”