World Mental Health Day: Celebrating highlights from first year of It’s OK To Say campaign
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
A major initiative to tackle the stigma of mental health is celebrating its first anniversary.
The It's OK To Say campaign was launched to coincide with last year's World Mental Health Day with the aim of raising awareness of mental health issues and the support available to resolve them.
Founder and anxiety specialist Stacey Turner has worked with the Herts Advertiser over the past 12 months to promote the campaign's messages and highlight the remarkable stories of local people who have overcome personal battles with mental health.
Stacey said this week: "What a year it's been! What has been most impressive is how people have bravely come forward to share their stories to inspire others, and how the community have shown their support, be it a small business, organisation or an individual.
"Our goal is 'capturing the community' and that is within everything we do.
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"My favourite feedback to date is 'You made me realise that it wasn't weak to go and talk about what I have been through and that it's OK to have down days and question one's self'.
"I am overcome by how well It's OK To Say has been received, I can only hope that it continues on this path, getting bigger and better with each year that goes by.
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"In the words of Shona Davies, whom shared her story in November last year: 'Mental ill-health doesn't mean you can't achieve something remarkable'. She is a phenomenal example of how picking up that phone and asking for help can and will change your life.
"You are opening a door and you will learn ways and how to have different perspectives to live a happier and healthy life."
Some of Stacey's highlights from the year include:
* Working with district council mental health champion Cllr Anthony Rowlands to get the campaign rolling from the startl
* Introducing Children's Mental Health Awareness Week to St Albans, of which Stacey said: "While we reach out to all ages, It's OK To Say shines the spotlight on children believing that if we start in the early years and nurture right from the start, helping to make big feelings child size, we are helping the next generation.
"Prevention is always the best way forward."
* Interviewing professional footballers to highlight lifestyle choices and mental well-being and joining St Albans City Football Club in paying tribute to former player Mike Thalassitis after he took his own life;
* Climbing Kilimanjaro to raise awareness of the campaign's goals and seeing the community come together in support;
Stacey explained: "It is hard to list just some highlights, as there really are so many to acknowledge over the past year. Thank you so much to every single person I have met and worked with - you have made a big difference even if it felt like you were doing a small thing.
"It has meant the world to have this support and be able to do what I love doing.
"You have enabled me to share my passion, and try and make a difference to people's lives.
"Throughout this year, one thing that is prevalent is that we continue to reject the stigma attached to mental health. There is a reason why it is there and that's history, however people change history all the time. "In paving the way forward, we need to move through our daily lives knowing it's OK to say.
"It's important, as we're important and the way we move through our lives impacts those around us. We're in this together, we can do it and we will.
"I feel so emotional celebrating this anniversary, as every day I am inspired and strive to gently encourage people towards a nurturing route for a better you.
"We can't change the bumps along the way, but we can change how we respond to them and reject any stigma attached."
Stacey added: "This time last year I said that It's OK To Say intends to pack a powerful punch and with our community's help, I believe we have begun to do just that."