A West Lothian woman fights to eradicate the stigma that some people face when talking about their mental health problems.
Angela McCrimmon, who volunteers as an ambassador for a mental health charity, seesMe as part of Mental Health Awareness Week to help people open up to their problems.
The theme of this year’s Mental Health Week, which kicks off this week and runs until May 24, is “loneliness” – and Angela hoped to show the importance of talking about mental health to help end stigma and discrimination.
The poet Angela said: “Volunteering with SeeMe is incredibly important to me because I live with a mental illness myself and I have experienced stigma and discrimination from everyone around me – even from the health professionals.
“But SeeMe is an organization that properly values the experiences of people living with poor mental health or mental illness.
“I want to get people to talk about mental health, I want these mental health conversations to be as normal as talking about your physical health.
“In my opinion, people heal when they are heard – and SeeMe gives people who are fighting a voice.”
Research by SeeMe found that more than a quarter of Scots do not feel well talking about their mental health.
Angela continued: “If you don’t actively try to maintain your mental health, loneliness will show, but you don’t have to suffer in silence – there are plenty of different support groups that are just google to look away.
“There are also many different types of support that professionals should be able to bring to the attention of those who are struggling with their mental health to relevant community groups – but they do not know about these matters.”
“That’s why it’s so important to communicate with others who have experienced, with people who have experienced similar things.
“If they knew more about what was going on in the community, they could direct relevant organizations.”
If you are struggling with well-being, mental health professionals recommend contacting someone you trust – a friend, a family member, your GP or a helpline such as Breathing Space or Samaritans.
Wendy Halliday, director of See Me, said: “Stigma, or the fear of saying the wrong thing, can also lead people to put off a conversation with someone who is in trouble, so they feel alone and isolated.
“If you’re worried about someone, use this week to start a conversation and keep going.
“Talking about how you feel and sharing that burden is the first step to getting help – and you’ll find you’re not as alone as you think.”
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