The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

YMCA Norfolk backs major new mental health campaign 

YMCA Norfolk has joined forces with YMCAs across the UK and Ireland to support a major mental health campaign, with a former resident speaking out about his own experience.

The New research from YMCA reveals the damaging effects of negative language and stereotypes about mental health. It showed that ‘psycho’, ‘retard’ and ‘attention seeker’ were among the most commonly used words, as two thirds (66%) of young people who have seen or heard harmful words and negative stereotypes relating to mental health say it is simply part of everyday language.

More Than Words, published today (October 10) on World Mental Health Day, as part of the YMCA and NHS #IAMWHOLE campaign, also showed that 44% of those who have heard or seen negative stereotypes did so on a weekly basis, with young people coming across an average of 33 different words and terms.

Researchers spoke to more than 2,000 11-24 year olds and found that even though nearly nine in ten (88%) young people who have come across stereotypes and negative words think they should be challenged, less than half (48%) have done so.

Around 60% of young people said social media is where they most frequently saw negative words and stereotypes about mental health.

The damaging impact of harmful language is evident as more than half (55%) of young people who have been on the receiving end say it stops them from talking about their difficulties.

More Than Words has been launched as part of #IAMWHOLE’s 2017 activity, which is supported by high profile names including former World Champion boxer, Ricky Hatton; TV presenters Matt Johnson, Anna Williamson; Soccer AM host, Lloyd Griffith and music artists including Professor Green and Ella Eyre.

Tim Sweeting, Chief Executive for YMCA Norfolk, said: “Negative language surrounding mental health is so engrained into our everyday language it makes it almost impossible to tackle stigma if we don’t change the way we talk about people experiencing mental health difficulties.

“While everyone knows how damaging insults can be, it’s the more subtle elements of how we talk about the issue that really discourages young people from speaking out.

“Most of us use words unintentionally, not realising the damaging consequences of our comments. We need to start challenging people on the way they talk and also challenge ourselves. This is why we support the #IAMWHOLE campaign to help everyone better understand mental health and tackle stigma one word at the time.”

Daniel Mariner, a recent YMCA Norfolk resident at Hall Quay in Great Yarmouth, backed the campaign, speaking of his own experiences of the stigma surrounding mental health issues: “You get stick off everyone. It’s a terrible experience and not one person is experiencing the same thing.

"When I tried to reach out for help, there were quite a few hoops to jump through, which often stop people from receiving the help they need and adds to stigma and the pressures. Because of this people often continue to suffer in silence.”

#IAMWHOLE 2017 is being fronted by rock band, Nothing But Thieves – who have recorded an exclusive version of the title track from their hit album ‘Broken Machine’ to support the campaign, as well as last year’s campaign lead Jordan Stephens from Rizzle Kicks.

YMCA Norfolk mental health engagement worker Charlie Smith attended the London launch of the campaign and met Jordan (pictured above).

“The launch was amazing! It was such a lovely atmosphere of all individuals who wanted to fight stigma and change the way we talk about mental health. I met some amazing people and got to share stories of how we are increasing awareness of mental health here in Norfolk,” she said.

Pictured top is Daniel Mariner, a recent YMCA Norfolk resident, who is backing the campaign.

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