A word from 'Chocolat' author, Joanne Harris
So many people seem to misunderstand mental health issues, both in themselves and other people.
They assume that mental illness comes only to a certain "type" of person, so that when it happens to them, they are slow to seek help or to face the facts.
The fact is that there are many types of mental health issues. Some can be handled without consulting a professional, others need more specialist care.
But all of them benefit from transparency, sympathy and the understanding of others.
We are all potentially vulnerable to depression, anxiety, negative and self-destructive behaviour. There is no "type" of sufferer, any more than there is a "type" of sufferer for the common cold.
There is no "reason" for falling ill, and there is no "blame" attached to it.
In mediaeval times, the mentally ill were thought to be possessed by demons. In Victorian times, they were thought to be feeble-minded.
Now, they are too often dismissed as weak or attention-seeking.
It's high time we set out to challenge these ignorant assumptions.
Mental illnesses should be taken as seriously and given the same attention as those with physical symptoms: and the first step is to demystify and de-stigmatize mental conditions.