With one in ten children and young people affected by mental health problems, ‘see me’ – Scotland’s national campaign to end the stigma and discrimination of mental ill-health - is encouraging 13 – 15 years olds across the Western Isles to think about their behaviour towards someone their own age with mental ill-health.
With backing from top celebrities, Gok Wan, Greg McHugh and Rachel Sermanni, the recently launched ‘What’s On Your Mind?’ campaign explores how support from peers can make a positive difference to people’s mental well-being through a specially designed resource pack including a short film, posters and a suite of engaging activities.
The campaign has been developed after research commissioned by ‘see me’ revealed that almost half of young people (47 per cent) wouldn’t want people to know if they had a mental health problem, and only 17 percent thought that young people experiencing mental ill-health would recover.
Suzie Vestri, ‘see me’ Campaign Director, says: “See me’s research found that there is a lot of confusion, misconception and myth about mental ill-health amongst young people and that discourages help-seeking and fuels stigma. So, ‘What’s On Your Mind?’ aims to provide clarity for young people in the Western Isles about mental ill-health and to encourage them to think about how their behaviour affects others.”
Scots singer, songwriter Rachel Sermanni, who helped launch the campaign said: “Mental ill-health is something that can affect anyone at anytime of their lives. I hope my involvement in supporting ‘see me’ will help raise awareness of the importance of being open and positive about mental ill-health”.
Greg McHugh, known for his role as ‘Gary Tank Commander’, added his support, saying: “Mental health problems among young people are more common than people may think and are often difficult to spot. That’s why it’s important to listen as well as talk to your friends – it can make a big difference. By showing my support for the campaign I hope it will encourage young people to look out for their friends and ultimately end the stigma of mental ill-health in Scotland.”
Two young people who both have lived experience of mental ill-health are also supporting the campaign. Gabrielle Quinn and Gary McGinley have both experienced stigma around their mental health problems and understand how positive support can make a difference:
Gabrielle says: “When I opened up to friends about my bipolar disorder some of them turned their backs on me. Experiencing this type of stigma slowed my recovery. If I had been shown more support and understanding from my friends – like I did from my partner and mental health team – I feel it would have made a huge difference.”
Gary adds: “I was 15 when I started experiencing mood swings and began self harming. My behaviour continued to be more erratic as I got older until my girlfriend encouraged me to get help. When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder not all of my friends and family understood and their reaction was difficult to cope with.
“By lending my voice to the campaign I hope I can help explain how support can mean so much, and ultimately give other young people with mental health problems the confidence to ask for help.”