Monday, 23 May 2005
A campaign to highlight and tackle the stigma suffered by people with mental health issues is being launched next month.
A six-mile night-time walk is being held, starting at 11.30pm on Friday, 17 June, at the Grays Beach Café, in an effort to raise the profile of the problems caused by this unfounded stigma.
The Positive Mental Health Action Group - which involves service-users; carers; Open Door; Thurrock Council; Thurrock Primary Care Trust; SUGAR, the service-user network; Thurrock Mind, South Essex Partnership NHS Trust; and pharmaceutical group Janssen-Cliag - are launching their campaign with the walk and are looking for as many people as possible to take part.
And organisers are also on the lookout for sponsors to join ASDA, Sainsbury, Cerestar and provide refreshments at several stop-off points along the route.
Linda Kirton, from Thurrock Mind, said: "Mental illness is very common - one in four people are going through it at any one time - one in 100 have a very serious condition.
"Many people in this situation say they are socially excluded, isolated and often face other people's prejudices and misinformation about mental health issues ... for some they may lose their job and their close relationships. One service user told me: 'We are often labelled and this is not right, labels are for tins and packages, not for people'.
"This campaign is about challenging that stigma. The loneliest time is during the night, so that's why we are holding this walk at night."
Val Liddiard, chair of Thurrock PCT, added: "Some people don't seek help because they fear prejudice - getting a job for example. Employers can do a lot to help people who face a problem get assistance and keep their job."
And Cllr Nick Edwards - Thurrock Council's Cabinet member for Health - said: "The stigma attached to people with mental health issues has to be stamped out. This campaign - launched by the walk - is something we should all support."
Registration forms to join the walk are available from Open Door, in Orsett Road, Grays; Thurrock PCT, at the Civic Offices, New Road, Grays; the Community Mental Health Team, Grays Hall, Orsett Road, Grays; the Carers Centre, Cromwell Road, Grays; and Thurrock Mind, 152 Bridge Road, Grays.
Ms Kirton added: "We'll be making several stops along the walk - places where people can come and learn about things that are on offer to help those with mental illness; and where we on the walk can take some refreshment."
Photo available from Andy Lever (01375 652924).
Facts about mental illness:
One person in 4 experience mental health problems
One person in 100 will have a serious mental health diagnosis such as schizophrenia or manic depression.
One in six suffer from anxiety.
One in ten suffer depression.
Suicide accounts for one-in-five deaths among young people.