Charity says we should all help to tackle the stigma that surrounds mental health

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Tony Swanborough of Milestones Trust
Tony Swanborough of Milestones Trust

Everyone is an expert in mental health so we should all play our part in tackling the stigma that surrounds it, says Milestones Trust, as Mental Health Awareness Day approaches.

The theme of Mental Health Awareness Day on Monday, October 10th is physiological first aid and the support people can provide to those in distress.

Tony Swanborough, area manager at Milestones Trust, a Bristol-based charity which is at the forefront of mental health recovery and is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, says: “Everybody experiences personal and emotional crisis in their life. We are therefore all experts in mental health.

“The issue is around the stigma that surrounds it.  Silence gets in the way and we become afraid to help because we are not sure what to do.

“We want to help by breaking the silence and speaking about it to help others.”

Tony says that everybody is equipped to help:

  1. By not being judgemental and listening.
  2. By helping people to understand they’re not alone.
  3. By battling the stigma through breaking the silence.
  4. By telling people it’s ok to seek help – there are currently 1 in 4 people getting treated across the UK.

Milestones Trust works with people of all ages with mental health needs across Bristol in dedicated care homes, education and community centres and in smaller residential settings. Their approach is to encourage patients to step out of the ‘sick role’ and start to become autonomous as individuals with the capacity to come through a period of mental distress.

Recent media coverage of mental health issues includes:

  • The release of data this week covering 60% of England’s mental health trusts showing that ¼ million children and young people are receiving help and support.
  • New data from NHS Digital this week showing that young women are in the highest risk group in England for mental health problems.

Tony Swanborough added: “If we don’t break the silence that persists around mental health issues then the situation is only going to get worse.”

Milestones Trust, which has 15 mental health care homes in Bristol, runs a number of programmes including sessions on problem solving, independent thinking and spiritual health. The charity has a particular strength in improving wellbeing through art. Experience shows that creativity and imagination has a positive impact on mental health as well as offering an avenue for people to get involved in their communities through, for example, choirs and drama groups.

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