Make this week the time to talk.

The Anti-Stigma group is a volunteering opportunity we offer here at Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind and the members meet often to discuss ideas on how we can raise awareness and campaign for mental health difficulties.

Each member has an understanding in mental health whether they have direct experience, a user of services, through personal self-management or as a carer. Their goal is to change the public attitude towards mental health and break the stigma attached so anyone can open up to how they are feeling.

This years topic ran by the Mental Health Foundation aims to look at why too few of us are thriving with good mental health and ways in which we can change this.

So in the last year the volunteers have organised a Christmas campaign, spoken to local radio stations and this week have a slot on ITV!

The volunteers have teamed up with ITV Tyne Tees to talk about their personal experiences and coping mechanisms they have found aid their recovery or that help them maintain good mental wellbeing.

Mental health is a part of life, not a taboo subject. With the likes of the Royal trio – Prince William, Catherine and Prince Harry and not to mention the amount of celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Stephen Fry opening up about their issues – we are starting to see a real difference.

“For some of us with mental health problems, it can be incredibly difficult to start a conversation about our struggles without a prompt. Asking somebody how they are, or letting them know you’re there if they’re struggling, can make it much easier to get the discussion started.” Anti-Stigma Volunteer

“The only difference between people that talk about mental and those that don’t is honesty. Everyone you ever meet is affected by their state of mind at some point in their lives, they just don’t talk about it.” Anti-Stigma Volunteer.

Throughout Mental Health Awareness week we’ll be sharing stories and updating our social media channels with lots of useful information and support so please check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can see our Anti-Stigma group on ITV News this Thursday at 6pm. If you would like to know more about the volunteering group or would like to join, click here.

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