Merton tackles mental health


The stigma attached to mental illness was challenged at a sports day in Mitcham on Tuesday.

By Rhian Hughes

The stigma attached to mental illness was challenged at a sports day in Mitcham on Tuesday.

Merton Mind, in partnership with several voluntary sector organisations, held the event at Canons Leisure Centre to celebrate World Mental Health Day.

Fifty five service users across Mitcham joined in to raise awareness and tackle the stigma.

Geoff Parsons, organiser and Merton Mind’s User Development Coordinator, said it was important to encourage mental-health sufferers to engage in physical activity.

There is strong evidence suggesting exercise reduces depression levels and encourages well being.

Mr Parsons, who battled with a mental health disability himself, said: “I have a degree of empathy with the service users from personal experience and previously being sectioned under the Mental Health Act. 

“Battling with a feeling of loneliness and isolation is difficult and we need to overcome the myths surrounding mental health so people can take control and learn to deal with it and move forward with their lives.”

Figures from the Mental Health Federation show one in six people in England suffer from a common mental-health problem at any one time and only a quarter are getting any form of treatment.

Mr Parsons said due to prejudice and exclusion from work people are reluctant to seek help and therefore struggle to understand the anxiety involved and inability to move on.

Celebrities like Stephen Fry and Ruby Wax, who are openly battling mental-health issues like depression, are becoming role models for others despite society’s stigma against mental health.

World Mental Health Day organised by the World Health Organisation took place across the continent on October 10.

It raises public awareness about mental-health issues, encourages healthy lifestyle and recovery, which is a practical solution for sufferers to take back control.

For more information on Merton Mind and battling mental health contact 0208 648 6565 or email [email protected].

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