If you feel strongly on the subject of mental health, suffer from mental ill health, are appalled at the continuing stigma associated with poor mental health, wish that the government would reverse its draconian cuts to mental health services – in fact have any views whatsoever on the subject of mental health, then I urge you to buy, not read for free on the website, today’s Guardian. Included is a free 24 page pull out on mental health called ‘Let’s talk about it.’ It has warmed the cockles of my heart.

There are still many people who regard poor mental health as nothing more than being a big sad, something people should ‘snap out of’, being part of the ‘snowflake’ generation. So, to quote the bard Loyd Grossman, let’s look at the evidence:

  • 1.25 million people contacted mental health services in England in 2018.
  • 15,154 people were detained under the Mental Health Act in England in 2018.
  • 1,130 people who in 2018 travelled more than 30 miles from home for an acute hospital bed. Of this number, 155 had to travel 120 miles or more.
  • 5821 people killed themselves in 2018, 4382 of whom were men.

This tells but a fraction of the story. In fact, until you reach the final dreadful statistic, you might think that in a country of 50-odd million people, that only 1.25 million people contacted mental health services is good news. it isn’t. And it’s only part of a wider picture.

The absolute priority for anyone who feels they may have a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety or anything else, then talk to someone. If you are desperate, call the Samaritans on 116 123. Do not delay. Do not imagine for one second it will just pass. If you have a decent level of control, see a GP. Again, if you have a mental illness, it will need treating. You do not just hope that cancer will go away on its own so treat poor mental health in the same way. 5821 people committed suicide last year. Act now to ensure you do not join them. There is hope (and this comes from someone whose default position is that there is no hope: it’s just that my desire to live is usually greater than my desire to die).

In this week of all weeks, Mental Health Awareness week, it’s time to act, if not for you, then for someone you know. Put your fears about how others will react to the back of your mind. For every one person who reacts negatively, there is an army of people who will help.

More than anything, don’t give up.