Judith Robertson: Tackle stigma of mental health

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All over the world a population of people who experience mental health problems experience something else as well – they experience stigma about simply having a mental health problem and discrimination when they attempt to take action to help their lives.

We know that one in four people in Scotland will experience a mental health problem this year – that means that the other three people can be there to support them. That’s a lot of support and that is who we want to mobilise over the coming weeks and months.

We also know that nine out of ten people with a mental health problem have experienced stigma and discrimination and we know for some people the effects of the stigma attached to mental health problems can be worse than the actual diagnosis people receive.

But we also know we can expect better than that. As Eleanor Roosevelt, the principal creator of the UN Declaration of Human Rights said, “people’s rights begin in small places, close to home, so close and so small they cannot be seen on any map of the world ... and unless these rights have meaning there they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home we shall look in vain for progress in the wider world”.

Concerted citizen action is what See Me is all about. See Me is inviting people across Scotland to join up, take action and bring an end to a scourge on society that is undermining people’s recovery and limiting their lives.

See Me will be tackling discrimination in the workplace, stigma experienced in health and social care settings and also focusing our work on children and young people so that future generations don’t suffer in silence.

The movement we are launching this week is going to grow. We all have a real place in challenging this phenomenon and slowly, person by person, in homes, in streets, in offices, in hospital wards, schools and colleges we can change how people with mental health problems are perceived, how they are treated and how their rights, along with everybody else’s rights, can be supported and upheld on a day-to-day basis.

Take action. Change lives and join the movement today. People like you will change lives. People like you will end mental health discrimination.

Visit www.seemescotland.org, facebook.com/seemescotland, Twitter @seemescotland

• Judith Robertson is programme director at See Me