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'Support for mental illness is given boost by TV advert'


Last week, I saw a TV advertisement about mental health. In it, a man passes a male colleague who has been off work with mental health problems.

He wonders if he should ask his co-worker how he’s feeling but has visions of him reacting badly to the question. In the end, the colleague simply thanks him for asking and says he is OK. The conversation is surprisingly normal after being played out in many uncomfortable ways in the protagonist’s mind.

The aim of the advertisement is to encourage the public to talk about mental health. And we do need that encouragement.

As a nation, we often seem far more relaxed talking about gynaecological cancers or bowel disorders. But we haven’t always been open about those. It was nurses and health professionals, patient groups and charities that took us down this road by addressing these conditions. It’ll probably be those people who will have to break down the stigma about mental health too - and many of them are already doing just that.

That’s why it’s so good to see these issues being talked about openly on television and elsewhere in the media. It gives the nursing profession a head start if patients feel confident and equipped to discuss mental health openly.

In the past month, Ruby Wax has appeared on popular TV programmes about her theatre show Losing It. In this production, she talks about her own mental health problems, and encourages those with similar issues to come to the show and discuss them with each other. Putting mental health on the agenda with celebrity support is a huge cultural shift.

The ability to hold therapeutic conversations is a main strength of the nursing profession. Nurses have the capacity and the skills to listen to people. They know the power of talking to patients and nursing the mind as well as the body. However, this good work must be supported by friends, family and colleagues. Otherwise, the good work they do in practice will be undone.



Readers' comments (10)

  • good advert, & thanks for article.

    would like to know who created the advert - altho they only had 15 seconds to play it, there's some other perspectives too.

    there's lots of different reasons for a person suffering 'mental health'. something as simple as the person asking "whats caused your problems" can turn what seems to be very complicated and un known, into something obvoius that
    everyone can understand.

    its kind of like asking "how are you" after their house has been burned down. rather than getting a rather uneasy answer from "how are you", if the askee knows what the cause is, they can pretty much work out for themselves how the person is feeling.

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  • The advert is from the Time to Change campaign, which is a mental health anti-stigma project.

    The latest campaign is all about talking about mental health/illness, to help challenge the taboo nature of it. It's called 'It's time to talk, it's Time to Change.

    You can watch the advert again on YouTube here:

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  • All well and good, but when are nurses going to speak out against the inhumane treatment of people at DWP assessments who have severe mental health problems ?

    And why does no one challenge Atos to recruit mental health nurses to do mental health assessments ?

    Running and promoting these campaigns are not going to do very much to help people who are really suffering due to having benefits withdrawn only to be reinstated after six months due to poor initial assessments which have an adverse effect on an already fragile mental health.

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  • there is absolutely no doubt that those doing any assessments for benefits should have appropriate training in the area of the handicaps of the individual being assessed. those with mh problems must be assessed by trained RMNs, psychologists, counsellors or equivalent with relevant training and knowledge of psychology otherwise insensitive handling of this fragile group of individuals will do untold damage. It is not just a question of a young clerk without experience form filling and box ticking.

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  • I don't know what to make of this video and whether it gives out a helpful message or not. but maybe I am so used to being around individuals with mh problems that I don't see any need to speak to them any differently than anybody else. I acknowledge their presence the same as anybody else, I ask them how they are unless I know some tragedy has recently befallen them in which case I may phrase my inquiry accordingly, and I show my openness to listen if they want to talk to me but do not push it as I feel it is up to them.

    I found this video rather contrived but then I live in Europe where people are often more open and generally more at ease with each other than the British are. Although I am British, I find the lack of ability to communicate with each other in an open and frank manner highly troubling, sad and detrimental to normal, healthy human relations.

    The first thing that struck me and surprised me on being with a group of mental health patients was that most of them are perfectly normal, intelligent, often physically healthy people just like everybody else, but people, often very sensitive and vulnerable, with severe problems.

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  • if it comes up in conversation that somebody was in psychiatry it immediately becomes a label and a judgement which acts as conversation stopper, irrespective of the reason for the hospitalisation, and the individual is treated differently from anybody else or avoided altogether by all the other weirdos who consider themselves part of the 'normal' society. It is unlike medicine, surgery or other specialties where people show concern and enquire after the current health of the indvidual. why is this so? and what is wrong with the general public? is it simple ignorance and lack of curiosity or social intelligence, or is it fear? I really do not see a reason for a person with a mental health problem to be treated differently from anybody else unless they are in crisis and need support, but then so does everybody else in such circumstances. They may be more or less intelligent than others in the population that is immaterial, or they may demonstrate some eccentric behaviours like everybody else from time to time. they can be extravert or introvert like all others, so what is the problem with the others? Perhaps if psychiatry or mental health, or anything else associated with them are not mentioned then there is no stigma or associated difficulties. Medical personnel behave just as badly as everybody else at creating this stigma and even those you would least expect, who work in MH and psychiatry as outside the workplace they often reject such indivuduals from their social circles!

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  • I agree with anonymous 1-Apr-2011 3:23 pm however I think it is fear at times that stop people associating with people who have a mental health problem. I am a RMN and when I innocently mentioned to one of my colleagues I was going to visit my friend in hospital it was fine until they found out it was in a psychiatric unit I was asked why do I continue to have this person as a friend and if I was not worried they would be asking me for help constantly. I was so surprise by this type of behaviour because if these are the type of people who are suppose to be an advocate for those with a mental health problem then what can you expect from ordinary members of the public. By the way because someone may suffer from a mental illness does not mean you cannot be friends with them my friend and I were friends from school days and we are still friends now.

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  • Anonymous | 1-Apr-2011 10:07 pm

    good response to my previous post. I might add to that that I have several friends with mh problems one of the closest who is in her 50s and has suffered from schizophrenia with fairly severe episodes of psychosissince the age of 18 with frequent hospitalisations lasting several weeks to stabilise her condition and her treatment, which seems effective for a while until the next episode. Normally she is a a most interesting, intelligent, loyal, fun loving, and attentive and possesses whatever other excellent qualities one expects from any friend. she is very open and although she had to eventually give up her work as an HCA and her last job, looking after a lady of 100 years old part time until she died, as it became too stressful for her, she leads an otherwise fulfilling family life. Unlike many individuals suffering from schizophrenia she loves company and even making new friends, her door is always open (not literally - sos burglars in this area) and one is always sure of receiving a warm welcome if one drops in unannounced anytime during the day with tea or coffee, cakes and a good chat. She has many friends, not because they feel sorry for her but because of her personal charm, warmth and charisma although they are always there for her as well when she needs them. it is not unusual to call on her and find other friends there as well - something that would be too much for me to cope with or many others I know as well. she also does a lot to help and support others with mh disorders and the elderly for whom she helps with shopping and cooking and generally keeping them company. she cooks sunday lunch regularly for her aeging parents and I am often invited by her to join them on special occasions such as Christmas or New Year. if you feel down she is the first to know and always willing to lend sympathetic ear no matter how difficult the problems are and gives the sort of responses one likes to hear without the usual patronising remarks, like it will all be ok or I understand exactly how you feel etc. What better and more normal friend can you have than that.

    All these friends I have made in the last 10 or so years after moving to a new area and in full knowledge that some of them suffer from various mh problems for which they have all had a period in psychiatry. It makes no difference to me at all. As I said before they really are no different from any other friends apart from their individual differences which thank goodness we all have.

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  • As a CPN I think anything that helps break down the stigmatism of mental illness can only be a good thing. It's just a shame that people who suffer from a mental illnes won't be able to get the treatment and support they deserve and need due to the hefty cuts to mental health services.

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  • Saw advert yesterday for the first time.

    Boy it is so true what can go through someone mind.

    Brilliant advert should have more of it on TV and in differnet situations.

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