World Mental Health Day: Herts Ad helps launch new campaign to tackle stigma

It's OK To Say logo

It's OK To Say logo - Credit: Archant

The Herts Advertiser has teamed up with a leading anxiety specialist to launch a new campaign encouraging people to speak out about mental health concerns before they escalate.

The It’s OK To Say initiative aims to raise awareness of mental health issues and breakdown stigmas surrounding them, as well as urging people to speak up and seek help if required.

It will also be promoting better practice for mentally healthy schools and how healthy habits for better minds can become a part of daily life.

Children’s anxiety specialist Stacey Turner, who is also an ambassador for suicide awareness charity The OLLIE Foundation, is leading the campaign alongside the Herts Ad.

“World Mental Health Day celebrates global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. This year’s theme, set by the World Federation for Mental Health is young people and mental health in a changing world, which is fitting as It’s OK To Say is born out of almost 20 years of work listening to what children, teenagers and adults need to function healthily on a daily basis.

Life can be so hard to understand, people can be hard to understand and often, we struggle with our own thoughts, reactions and actions. My goal for It’s OK To Say is to open more minds, to inspire more curiosity related to mental health and to bring about more understanding. To help alter perception paving the way for a more nurturing road forward and certainly to tackle this thick fog called stigma!

“I have witnessed rooms full of worried parents desperately seeking information of what to do and where to turn. Teenagers confessing that they wish they’d had support and help, as perhaps their lives would have turned out differently if they had.

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“The message is always the same – reach out for help, talk as much as possible and then talk some more. Learn how to manage emotions and gain essential skills to support you through life’s transitions and occurrences.

“I believe by highlighting and modelling better mental health within our society will encourage people to take action before a problem escalates, and hopefully promote the message that ‘It’s OK To Say…’ if you are scared or worried about something, rather than keep quiet and hope it goes away.”

Over the coming weeks we will be focusing on different mental health issues, and what help is available locally, whether through the NHS, privately, or through charities and helplines.

We will also be encouraging local schools to get involved in better mental health, and why it is essential to support children from a young age to avoid trauma later in life, and working alongside partner organisations to get the campaign message across.

Herts Advertiser group editor Matt Adams said: “We have been actively highlighting issues surrounding mental health over the past year, and it’s now time to take the next step. This campaign is an important tool in promoting better minds and encouraging us all to speak out about any difficulties we might be facing in our daily lives.

“I am pleased to be working alongside Stacey on this crucial initiative to break down stigmas surrounding mental wellbeing and highlighting the help which is available.”

It’s OK To Say is being sponsored by St Albans and District Chamber of Commerce, and Chamber President Alastair Woodgate added: “We are pleased to support this campaign. Any one of us could have mental health issues at some point in our lives. The unnecessary stigma around mental health wrongly forces sufferers to be silent.

“Positive mental health works as an asset to a business, helping employees to thrive. Surveys have indicated that 90 per cent of Millennials say they’re more likely to stay with their company if they believe the organisation identifies with their needs. The Chamber of Commerce is keen to support, encourage and build opportunities for both current and future business people and that includes a more supportive environment for those with mental health concerns. If the next generation eliminates the stigma of mental health that will create a positive environment for all.”

Follow the campaign’s journey in the Herts Advertiser and listen for updates on Radio Veralum with Danny Smith the first Monday of every month at 5:30pm - hear the first show here.

Stacey added: “I wish I had a magic wand, I want to take all the pain away, however sadly I can’t. I can offer hope and reassurance through this campaign and inspire you to begin your journey to become the best you possibly can, directing you to the help you need. Whether that help is for you, your child (ren), family, friend, it’s there. Let me show you.”