Mental Health Trust Fights Stigma And Discrimination

With a month of action locally

South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust (SWLSTG) is placing itself at the centre of the fight against stigma and discrimination suffered by people living with mental health problems.

The South West London-based Trust, which provides services in Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth, is supporting a month-long series of events in October aimed at challenging discrimination and raising awareness of the issue.

David Bradley, SWLSTG Chief Executive, said: “One in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point of their life, around one in 10 children suffer from mental health issues and depression affects one in 12 of the population.

“What makes these statistics even more worrying is the fact that nine out of 10 people who have mental health issues say that their problems are made worse by experiencing stigma and discrimination from society, friends, families and employers.

“These people who are already battling with debilitating illness often find that the comfort and security of work, steady relationships, decent housing and simply being accepted as part of mainstream society are also denied them.”

The link between physical and mental health is well established and the highly-respected Kings Fund reports that people with severe mental illnesses also have significantly higher rates of physical illness – with a dramatic effect on life expectancy.

At the centre of the month’s activities is the Happy Soul Festival, six separate arts events which showcase different aspects of the experience of living with mental illness.

The Festival launches on World Mental Health Day, 10th October, with an opening event at the Antoinette Hotel in Wimbledon followed by a range of performances at different venues in the following days including an opera about depression and an evening of deaf comedy.

BME communities suffer from disproportionate problems with mental health and discrimination and Happy Soul is dedicated to challenging that by raising awareness through art.

The link between mental and physical health is recognised through a bring your bike to work project and the Trust’s support for a nurse running in the Cardiff half marathon to raise money for mental health charity, Mind.

The Trust also performs a great deal of valuable work in the field of education and a team of therapists are planning to deliver 1,000 leaflets to schools in order to further raise awareness of mental health issues.

September 25, 2014