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Campaign launched to tackle mental health stigma

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See me, the government mental health anti-stigma campaign, relaunches

Nine out of 10 people with a mental health problem say they continue to experience discrimination in work, education, health care and at home.

Scotland's anti-stigma campaign See Me claims that the problem it was set up to tackle a decade ago has not been solved despite progress in tackling public misconceptions about mental health.

This week it is relaunching the campaign at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall aiming to encourage people to "take action and change lives".

See Me wants discrimination to be highlighted by more of the general public and wants more people to support those they know are suffering from mental health problems.

See Me programme director Judith Robertson said: "Today we are launching a campaign which signals the end of a culture in Scotland that actively discriminates against people with mental health problems, stigmatising them and their families.

"Everyone has mental health and we can all be hit by mental ill-health, but we each have the power to make a positive difference in the lives of our families, friends and colleagues when they are affected by mental health problems."

It only takes one person to change someone else’s actions and that can have a knock on affect - Leanne McKillop

Research says just over one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives while two in three people with mental health problems will stop some day-to-day activities due to fear of discrimination.

Richard Monaghan, who was a senior director in the rail industry, in charge of 2,000 employees across two companies when he had a breakdown, said the discrimination he faced was “horrendous”.

The 61 year old, from Moffat, said: “When I was a senior director I was constantly being contacted, as soon as it was revealed I had a break down from depression all communication with me stopped.

“People avoided having conversations with me, it was quite dreadful.”

On one occasion a Job Centre worker told him there was “no point” in continuing with an interview after he broke down in tears in front of 70 people.

He said the stigma of his depression left him feeling “worthless, alone and frightened.”

Leanne McKillop, from Greenock, said the stigma she faced when she had an eating disorder led to “me questioning myself as a person”.

She said that people would tell her that all she had to do was “pick up a fork” and by not eating she was “hurting” her family.

The 31 year old, who is taking action by speaking about her story to help others, is encouraging people to join the See Me campaign.

She said: “It only takes one person to change someone else’s actions and that can have a knock on affect.”