May 20, 2010

I just had my first 'live' sighting of our Frank and Trisha tube posters on the District line. It's a busy media environment but I feel that visually they stand out. I'd be really interested to hear what you think of them and what kind of reaction you've seen on the tube and in cinemas as people have seen our advertising.

Seeing Frank and Trisha's faces staring out into the tube carriage is a reminder of just how much a recognisable face, who the public are curious about or can relate to, can cut through the many advertising messages that we're constantly hit with, and public reluctance to engage with the issue of mental health, and grab people's attention.

The stories of people like Frank, Trisha, Stephen Fry and Ruby Wax who have all experienced mental health issues also help to get those important messages across that mental health issues can affect any one of us, no matter who we are or what we do for a living, and that people can lead full and productive lives whilst managing, or after recovering from, a mental health problem.

Of course, the stories of those of us non-celebrities who have been through mental health problems are just as important in showing the public the reality behind all the myths and stereotypes. We always highlight the stories of our incredible media volunteers alongside celebrity advertising - as in our recent partnership with the Mirror which saw so many fantastic people come forward to tell their stories.

Janet Street Porter, in her article in the Daily Mail last weekend, which has provoked such backlash on our Facebook page, on Twitter and elsewhere this week, suggested that celebrities speaking publicly about mental health issues are following some kind of fashionable fad and jumping on a trendy bandwagon. There are many things we disagree with in her article, and have written to the Daily Mail to respond in full. But we applaud every single celebrity who has taken the decision to be open about their experiences, as we know that this is one of the most powerful ways of both changing public attitudes, and encouraging more of us who have had our own mental health problems that it's OK to talk about it.

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Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.