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#TogetherWeCan remove the stigma

A new campaign tackling the stigma surrounding mental health has been backed by Wigan Athletic chairman, David Sharpe.

Wigan Council in partnership with local health providers developed the campaign, #TogetherWeCan, which addresses a range of life events and triggers that can be difficult times for people.

The campaign focuses on the importance of seeking support and was officially launched on International Men’s Day (19th November).

#TogetherWeCan aims to raise awareness about mental health, remove the stigma attached to talking about issues and highlight how although they may feel like it, people are not alone.

The theme of International Men’s Day this year is highlighting positive male role models, which is something David believes is important when trying to change attitudes towards mental health.

He said: “We need to raise the profile of mental health and a great way to do that is to encourage people in privileged positions to speak out and support initiatives like this.

“One in four people live with a mental health condition. If you think about that statistic and the club’s fans, the importance of mental health is really put into perspective.

“We have an average attendance of 8,000 people so that’s approximately 2,000 people in the stand who are possibly living with poor mental health.”

The campaign aims to help people before they reach crisis point by focusing on talking as a starting point, but will also target those with more complex mental health needs and those who know of someone in their life that may need help.

David added: “People automatically think that seeking help is sitting in a room with a doctor. Yes, this is one way but you could begin with a relaxed conversation with someone close to you like a friend or a family member.

“Life events and circumstances affect everybody differently. It doesn’t matter what the trigger is, it could be a big change or a number of smaller things that build up and begin to affect you. It’s important that you recognise this change or dip in your mental health and find the support in a form that is right for you.

“Everybody is fighting a battle we don’t know about, we need to be more mindful and accepting of those around us. The main message for me is to realise that just because someone looks strong, doesn’t mean they feel it.

“The #TogetherWeCan campaign addresses this and I look forward to seeing it develop.”

Professor Kate Ardern, director for public health at Wigan Council said: “We want to encourage and support people to maintain positive mental wellbeing and help remove the stigma surrounding mental health within communities.

“As The Deal for Health and Wellness outlines, we believe that everybody should be able to live long and healthy lives.

“People are not alone on their recovery journey as there is a multitude of support available both on a national and a local scale. By working together, we can really make a difference.”

Read David’s full interview on the council’s website or find out more about the #TogetherWeCan campaign and access support services at www.wigan.gov.uk/togetherwecan.

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