It’s OK To Say: St Albans mental health campaign awarded charity status

Stacey took on Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness of It's OK To Say and money for Cancer Research

Stacey took on Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness of It's OK To Say and money for Cancer Research UK. Picture: Stacey Turner - Credit: Archant

Long-running mental health awareness campaign It’s OK To Say has been awarded charity status.

Founded in October 2018 by St Albans anxiety specialist Stacey Turner, who has been the driving force behind its many achievements, the charity has been dedicated in honour of her father who took his own life when she was just 13.

She said: “As the campaign progressed, I was simply blown away by the support of the community, organisations and businesses. People were emailing on a Saturday night asking for help and sharing their stories.

“My initial business plan was written on my couch pulling together every aspect of my personal and professional experiences with a passion and will to help people. I am a people person and I want to help where I can because I believe I am equipped with the grit and determination my mother once termed defiant.

“There is a fire that burns within and that is to ensure we lead the way in terms of mental health.That defiance comes from sitting there at 13 after putting 13 red roses on my father’s coffin and absorbing the devastation of it within and around me, thinking: this can’t be it! It won’t be it!”

The road to achieving charity status was not an easy one, but it marks the next step in the development of It’s OK To Say.

Stacey said: “Becoming a charity means so much, it means we can apply for funding to consolidate plans and further help the public in lots of different ways. I have an incredible team of dedicated professionals and together I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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“Not only is this for my father, it’s for all the people I have been surrounded by growing up that I watched struggle in various ways. It’s for them and it’s for you! If I can help people, that makes a big difference and I know my father would be proud. Proud of providing reassurance and support that will hopefully make a big difference to people.

The charity’s website is now live at thanks to the hard work and dedication of Allister Collins of Ace Digital.

“Boy am I proud! Our hope is that you will find support and encouragement within the pages to secure emotional and overall well-being. I must take this opportunity to thank Allister for creating the perfect website! It is extremely user-friendly and is designed for the user to keep coming back rather than being an information tool. There are interactive tools to help and it is only growing.

You will see the different little hubs that make up the website, such as NHS Support supported by the charity’s own GP Dr Phillippa Smith.

Dr Smith said: “When Stacey asked me to join It’s OK To Say, I was honoured and thrilled to be part of something so important. Mental health is such a huge part of my daily work, and it affects everyone. I have listened to Stacey talk about the charity and support she wants to offer people and professionals to make an all round difference for a couple of years now and I’d like to help inspire doctors and practices around the country to put things in place to support patients further.”

There is also a Food + Mood hub, featuring guest chef Theo Michaels, who added: “Family cooking is high up there as an essential to everyday, promoting positive mental and physical health responses, unity/bonding as a family and friends while inspiring fresh food, fresh cooking and even travel!” 

Stacey added: “This has been such an emotional time, but it’s finally all coming together. t’s pulling years of work into one place that’s accessible for the public yet highlighting the importance of one to one assessment mentally and physically to meet individual needs.

“Thank you for taking It’s OK To Say into your hearts, and following and supporting this very special journey. I have met the most wonderful people along the way, many I call friends and when I reflect, I scrunch my nose and ask: ‘Really? Has this really happened?’ This little Aussie bobbing around this historical city I call home has created a mental health charity and climbed Kilimanjaro to prove to people that anything is possible, and a tiny step is all that is needed!”