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Wednesday, 17/05/17

How Channel 4 Is Supporting Better Mental Health

By Jane Stewart, Account Manager

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Last week (8th - 14th May) was Mental Health Awareness Week.  A week dedicated to raising public awareness about mental health issues, and encouraging people to talk about their mental health.

One of the key events of the week was the partnership between Mind (the mental health charity) and Channel 4.  A host of guest celebrity continuity announcers, including Mind charity President Stephen Fry, took over Channel 4's airwaves to mark Mental Health Awareness Week and talk about their own personal stories or their support for the week.  Guests included Mind ambassador Ruby Wax (I wholeheartedly recommend reading her book Sane New World), mental health campaigner Alastair Campbell, former football manager Alan Pardew, and Olympic star Dame Kelly Holmes.  Listening to these last week, I found them very humanising, open and touching.   

This week, Channel 4's Chief Creative Officer Jay Hunt is hosting a 4Talks event, along with Alastair Campbell, participants in Bear Gryll's The Island, and leading figures in business and public life, to discuss portrayal of mental health on TV and across the media.  Follow the discussions at #4TalksMentalHealth.

Using a high profile platform such as Channel 4 is so important to getting the message of good mental health out to everyone.  Indeed, Mind's Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer said: "Mind's own research has shown that when celebrities speak out about their own mental health in the media it can play an important role in inspiring people to start a conversation about their own mental health, and can encourage them to seek help."

Given that most of us in our lifetime are likely to experience a mental health problem, or know someone who does, bringing and keeping mental health on everyone's radar is vital.  And a massive part of that is normalising conversations around how you are feeling.  Prince Harry, who recently spoke candidly about his own mental health, and alongside his brother and sister-in-law has recently set up Heads Together, a charity which promotes good mental well-being, sums it up pretty well:

"What we are trying to do is normalise the conversation to the point where anyone can sit down and have a coffee and just go 'you know what, I've had a really s--- day, can I just tell about it? Because then you walk away and it's done."   

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