It’s time to give mental health some context #SocialStigmaStories

#SocialStigmaStories highlights three local mental health campaigners, Mind the Gap, Launchpad and author Lucy Nichol to discover whether they think stigma and discrimination is still relevant in the local area.

Statistics from MIND reveal that one in four people will experience a mental health problem each year but only one in eight adults with a mental health problem are currently receiving treatment.

It is recognised that mental health is part of a bigger systemic problem, due to existing issues such as: deprivation, employment, education, upbringing and poor housing. Is this a substantial systemic issue that needs addressing? Is mental health perpetuated by a system that is not fit for purpose?

S.O.S talks to three local organisations in their #SocialStigmaStories series to find an answer:

Mind the Gap logo |
Photo credit: Mind the Gap facebook page.

Newcastle Universities Student Union (NUSU) founded ‘Mind the Gap’ five years ago and is a mental health society run completely by students. In light of their five year anniversary, the society run mental health conferences to enable students to explore their own perspective of mental health.

Statistics from the Mental Health Foundation found that 50 per cent of mental health problems are established by age 14, and 75 per cent by age 24.

Conference leader of Mind the Gap, Haaris Qureshi believes that mental health issues result from academic work and pressure:

“More awareness needs to be raised across the education system in secondary schools and beyond. There is an extreme problem with a lack of awareness in education. A lot of young adults study at university with symptoms of severe mental illness and don’t realise how to identify their symptoms or how to access support and help.

“Students are struggling to work with the current academic system, it is very institutionalised and archaic. To my knowledge, it hasn’t changed in the last five years.

It was never built with the accommodation of students with mental illnesses in mind.

“The education system needs to be more proactive so that they can recognise when people are struggling. Universities have the responsibility to accommodate this proactively rather than reactively.”

Haaris Qureshi, conference leader of Mind the Gap.

The society’s core aim is to raise awareness of mental health. They achieve this through conferences, campaigns, fortnightly discussions and support groups in a safe, calm environment. Members find solidarity through managing their thoughts and emotions by talking to people who share the same experiences.

Haaris found that depression and anxiety are the most prevalent mental illnesses between 18-24 year olds and believes that mental health should be seen in the same context as physical health.

You can listen more to Haaris and his work with Mind the Gap on our Soundcloud page:

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