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Beating the stigma around mental health

mental health

6:02am 16th May 2016
(Updated 6:10am 16th May 2016)

A survey has found that nearly half of us regret not investing more time in relationships.

And nearly a quarter of adults consider looking after healthy relationships as more important than taking care of  physical health and financial security.

The YouGov poll was commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation - and marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week 2016.

The aim is to draw attention to the stigma surrounding mental health issues - and to encourage people to seek help if they need it.

Jonny Hennessey-Brown from Guildford is Bipolar.

He talks about his condition to raise awareness and to help others find the support they need: "It's easier to write about than talk about.

"Primarily I'm Jonny and I'm a father - I'm not Bipolar weirdo.

"I've learnt that it is something I live with and it doesn't define me but it is part of me and if I don't keep an eye on it - it will come back.

"When you're well it just feels like you're over- emotional at times.

"When you're unwell you are living in a complete high or complete low. 


"Just the basics like getting on the right train - you can't do.

"It is difficult some days, and my last episode was absolutely debilitating.

"But it was music and my children that got me back on my feet."

Jonny plays the cello in The Santiago Quartet which ise fundraising to record an album, Language of the Heart.

Twenty percent of all the UK CD sales will be donated to the charity MIND.

You can read more about how MIND and music has helped Jonny here - and donate here.

This year the Mental Health Awareness Week theme is 'relationships.'

The survey by the Mental Health Foundation and YouGov found that nearly half of Brits (46%) regret not investing more time in the relationships that matter to them.

Fifty percent of men are more likely to feel regret - than 42% of women.

In the UK 38% of people surveyed said maintaining a healthy relationship is important to their wellbeing - according to a study by the Mental Health Foundation.

In Surrey and Hampshire there are a number of charities and organisations helping people get back on their feet by building new relationships.

That could be with a counsellor or through group activities.

The Welcome Project in Godalming offers these services.

The scheme helps people who are experiencing mental health issues - offering yoga, dog walking, cooking and art classes.


Debbie Featherstone is the team leader: "Being isolated has a negative affect on people and what we try to offer is a place where people can come in and meet other people who have understanding and experiences themselves.

"Due to there being a lot of stigma around, it is great for people to talk to others who do understand.

"Everybody needs to talk about mental health."

Debbie says she thinks it is more than one in four who experience a mental health condition at some point in their life: "I think it is about everybody being a bit more honest.

"It is not just certain people who have mental health conditions. 

"It happens to professionals, doctors, teachers, nurses...

"It is about reducing the stigma by talking about it."

You can hear her full interview and from other local organisations on our Mental Health Awareness Week page.

The survey by the Mental Health Foundation and YouGov also found women are more likely to have broader, more intimate relationships than men.

Men are less likely to discuss personal matters with their friends than women, potentially putting them at risk of being less socially and emotionally supported during times of stress and crisis.

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