Journal opinion: Awareness of mental health is rising - but it is too slow

The Journal's opinion column for Monday, February 23, in which we urge greater awareness of mental health issues

Paul Norris Shirley Smith from Great Lumley
Shirley Smith from Great Lumley

Slowly – too slowly – the issue of mental health is rising up the agenda.

Awareness of depression is growing. But there is still poor understanding and ignorance out there.

Many people are lucky enough never to have suffered any kind of mental ill health. Others have suffered but have kept it to themselves until it is too late. Shockingly, 75% of males who commit suicide have had no contact with mental health services.

What must change is the culture of suffering in silence. It’s OK to be ill. It’s OK to seek help. It is not a matter of shame or of weakness.

Shirley Smith, of County Durham, founded a charity to help drive home that message after the suicide of her teenage son.

Unfortunately, the people whose awareness of mental illness is high are those who, like Shirley, have had a searing personal experience.

If awareness of mental illness is higher, perhaps fewer will have to suffer as she has done


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer