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Can you give us some examples of ways that we can make sure there's no stigma or discrimination in relating to mental ill health?

I think the stigma and discrimination are the two main reasons why people don't seek help. Historically, mental illness has been a big taboo, not even discussed in many areas. It's only recent years that it's been possible to be open about this and say, I have a mental health condition. And for people to react positively rather negatively. I think sometimes when people say I have a mental health condition, the negative reaction that they may receive puts them off receiving any further help at all. So it's really careful that language is positive, in response to any statements like this. And for employers, not to automatically assume if someone has a mental health condition that they are going to need very long periods of sick, that they are going to be difficult to work with, that they are going to be unreliable and just inform themselves about these conditions and what can be done with help and support. Discrimination is a big topic to do with mental health. And I think in recent years, due to much better publicity about it, people are more inclined to seek help and it's much easier to say now, "I have OCD, I have depression, I have anxiety", and it often opens the door for colleagues and friends to say, "Me too", and make it easier for a general discussion, a more open discussion in which often techniques for coping are swapped or helpful resources that you don't know about can be offered and generally to make it a more open and debatable subject.

When it comes to stigma, what do you think are the main... What do people consider certain behaviours likely to be, because someone has a mental health illness in your opinion?

I think we really have to move away from this idea that someone with a mental ill health condition is some type of madness or insanity or fear of being put away, as was happening many years ago now, and it still happened in some cases and in some families. I think people are regarded as being different and the difference is something that cannot be coped within daily life, and that's what stigma is, it's something that's not being coped with, and marked being flawed as being different. And that makes people fearful.

Yeah, I think some people assume that because someone has maybe a more complex issue like schizophrenia, that they have one calm side and one violent side, had been... A lot of it is due to films and things that have been made in the past. And so what would you say to people who have that assumption because it's something that they have watched and it's set in their mind, and they've not learned anything else about mental illness since then?

It's probably very difficult to remove the idea from their mind, especially if it's been gained from something like a film or something like that. But again, it's about educating yourself, informing yourself with accurate and up-to-date information about that condition. If it's a family member, you would want to help and support them and you want to be involved in the whole process of recovery or coping with a long-standing condition and things like schizophrenia, PTSD, bipolar or other precise psychiatric diagnoses and that's where they need to be dealt with. Sometimes, someone who is prominent in the media will disclose that they have lived with one of these or more of these conditions over some years. And I think that does help. Sometimes soap operas as well can portray different conditions and illnesses and that again helps. It lets people know that they're not alone. I think one of the things with mental ill health is the feeling that you are alone and there's nobody else who's got this and nobody else could possibly feel like you feel. And the idea that other people are seeing it and talking about it makes it so much easier to be able to disclose this.

Assuming of course, that it's being done.


Accurately, is it through portrayal...

Yeah, in an accurate way, and not... Well, I suppose that you could show it negatively, providing you counter-balance that with some sort of positive things. Yeah, you might need to show it negatively to see how it is and then people will really see what others are coping with but then you can show the positive side of recovery and development of resilience, which is important.