Despite much progression during their history as a charity, Hillingdon Mind continues to put efforts into breaking down the stigmas surrounding mental health with one in four people in the UK alone experiencing a mental health problem each year, according to the charity.
Speaking to getwestlondon, Christopher Geake, chief executive of Hillingdon Mind, said: "I always sum up the work of Hillingdon Mind in three key words, one is to promote good mental health and wellbeing, the second word is support, to support people when they are unwell and the third word is shape, to shape public opinion.
"What we know from our experience and from what people tell us is that predominantly people can cope with a mental illness, they have GP support [...] the thing which is really difficult is the stigma which people come across in all kinds of ways, discrimination in the workplace, difficulty getting a job, people excluding them from families, from friendship groups."
He added: "This is one of the biggest challenges for people."
The charity offers a number of support options for people who live, work or socialise in the borough of Hillingdon and who are going through a mental health illness.
From social clubs to join-in activities, support groups for men and women and peer support activities including creative writing and creative arts, the charity provides something for everyone as well as offering a diversity project which supports members of Asian communities.
A recent participant in one of the workshops wrote: "I thought I had some knowledge about mental health before, but now I have a much better practical understanding and skills I can use at home as well as in my work life".
Counselling and psychotherapy services are also available, some of which are free depending on income.
'I think it needs to be normalised'
"Everyday of the we are engaged in trying to shape more positive attitudes about mental health" said Mr Geake.
He continued: "I think it needs to be normalised, people are fearful of talking about mental health issues.
"If we have depression or anxiety or some other form of mental health problem, somehow we feel that we are less of a person for that and therefore we become afraid to share it.
"What we want is to normalise the issue."
The charity has set itself a goal to normalise mental health issues amongst young people as according to the charity, one in 10 children and young people experience mental health problems.
Mr Geake explained: "It's very difficult for people in their teens to accept mental health issues" and he stressed a will to find the problems sooner, rather than let them deteriorate.
The charity is doing a lot of work to promote mental health inside the workplace, with stress proving one of the biggest reasons for absence, according to the charity, alongside issues with employees being too afraid to speak out about their mental health and therefore not being effective at work.
Funded by the Big Lottery, their latest three year campaign Mind At Work aims to help people with experience of mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, to develop enough confidence to move into employment by developing job-search skills and providing support with finding work experience.
Anyone wishing to get in touch with Hillingdon Mind can visit the website or call 01895 271 559.
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