Restore was delighted to host Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds and Oxfordshire County Council Leader Ian Hudspeth for World Mental Health Day. Both sat down for a discussion about mental health services and ending stigma with service users of Restore and the Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership.
Around 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health illness this year. Despite the progress we have made in raising awareness of mental health issues, there’s still lots to do. We need to increase mental health recovery and coaching support as well as step up efforts to combat negative attitudes that still exist in our society.
Anneliese Dodds, Member of Parliament for Oxford East, said: “I’m pleased to have visited Restore, an important service for supporting people with mental health problems, this World Mental Health Day. I’ve been learning about the real difference that services like Restore and the Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership can make to people. What I’ve learned from some of the members here is that there’s still a lot of stigma unfortunately associated with mental health issues.
One member said that he had a physical and mental health problem, and while people understood the physical health issue, they didn’t get the mental health issue. That shouldn’t be happening in the 21st century. Mental health problems can affect any of us at any time in our lives.”
Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “I’ve come to the Elder Stubs Allotment to talk to Restore and some of their members about the mental health challenges they’re facing. It’s important to raise this subject because so often people push it aside and say that mental ill health isn’t a real problem. It is. Mental health is something that can affect everybody and we need to ensure people can access services with ease. That’s what Restore and the Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership is all about—helping people to rebuild their life, step by step.”
On 2018’s World Mental Health Day, Restore is working within the Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership to increase understanding of the lives of people with mental ill health while spreading awareness that unless we recognise negative attitudes exist we won’t be able to challenge or improve them.
Lesley Dewhurst, Chief Executive of Restore, said: “The stigma that surrounds mental health is built into the words we use. Language can drive people to—or away from—getting life-changing help like the kind available at The Orchard. We can all end stigma towards mental ill health and encourage more people to access the help they need by changing how we talk about mental illness.”
Language shapes how we see each other and the world, but it can also cause people worry about saying or doing the wrong thing. An effort to improve everyone’s attitudes towards mental health does not mean that people should obsess about restricting language or confuse political correctness for inclusive language.
Lesley Dewhurst, Chief Executive of Restore, continued: “We can’t tackle mental health stigma if we’re avoiding talking about mental health to start with! We don’t want people to feel awkward about mental health, but nor do we want people with mental ill health to feel excluded from society!”
That’s why Restore and the Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership have got some handy tips to help everyone feel confident around mental illness. Together we’re challenging a number of negative phrases that people with mental ill health find hurtful or harsh because they suggest they’re helpless, pitying, or even used abusively. By saying “a person is living with mental ill health” rather than describing them as “mental”, “nutter”, “lunatic”, or “schizo”, we can end stigma and drive people towards life-changing help.
Tom Hayes, Head of External Relations
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