Ellen, over at In a Bun Dance, is doing something very important today. She is hosting a Mental Health Carnival, where she posts contributions from bloggers who have faced the particular challenges that mental health conditions throw at you.
She's done it because:
Mental illness, of all shades, just doesn't get talked about enough. There's still a stigma, so anything that raises understanding and awareness has to be good.And people don't talk about it nearly enough. In fact, many still worry that admitting a vulnerability will have a detrimental effect on their career. In fact, I may well have thought twice about talking about my own issues if I'd had any ambitions for a parliamentary career.
Blogging can be hugely therapeutic in matters of mental dis-ease. It really helped me when I was in the grip of depression, therefore, I was delighted to highlight bloggers who talk about their experiences of it.
For me, this sort of openness about mental health issues is important in three ways. Firstly, as Ellen says, to break down the barriers, challenge the stigma. Mental illness strikes capable and talented people every day. In great numbers. For every five people you see today, one of them may well be suffering inside.
Secondly, it serves to comfort, reassure, inspire those who are struggling. Believe me, it can be a real battle just to keep yourself alive when you are in the pit of Depression with no obvious way out. If someone reads something that makes them realise that they aren't alone, that there is hope, and there are things that you can try to deal with the symptoms,
Thirdly, it should make us all aware of the need to make sure that there are sufficient resources to give everyone suffering from a mental health condition the support and treatment that they need. My contribution to this event is recycled. When Nick Clegg announced last year that £400 million was to be spent on giving a million people access to talking therapies, it made me cry because I knew how that would literally save lives. That post was one where the political met the personal as I wrote about my lifelong association with the black dog. Last week, I was delighted to be able to tell Lib Dem Voice readers that half a million people had already benefited and that Nick's work to break down the barriers and stigma around mental health was continuing.
So head on over to Ellen's blog today, read the moving accounts people have written and take from them inspiration, a resolve to try to ensure better services and a better understanding of the reality of many people's lives.