Royals inspire greater focus on mental health

Prince William FaceTimes Lady Gaga
Prince William FaceTimes Lady Gaga

A one-stop mental health guide is being produced after health campaigners in Wigan secured vital funding.

The “pathways guide” is aimed to help those suffering from poor mental health.

Mental health forum at St Patricks Parish Club

Mental health forum at St Patricks Parish Club

And it was launched at a special event at which recent revelations by senior members of the Royal Family about battling their own demons were greatly welcomed for shining a spotlight on such issues and fostering new public support.

Total funding has yet to be secured for the project but, in the meantime, public help is being sought for assembling the universal booklet.

The organisation behind it, Healthwatch Wigan and Leigh, is part of a national consumer group championing health and care in the community.

During their mental health forum at St Patrick’s Parish Club in Scholes, they asked the public to tell them of any mental health services they were aware of in the Wigan borough.

Information advice and guidance officer, Ashleigh Wilcock, said: “Sometimes people don’t know where to look.

“It you’re at crisis point, you might not think ‘I’ll just go to the doctors’ where help is available.

“We want everything together so it’s easy: crisis numbers, support groups, referrals.

“It’ll be Healthwatch’s go-to guide for mental health.”

Karen Parker, locality manager at the Wigan and Leigh branch, drew on the recent positive exposure the Royal Family has brought to mental health problems through their charity, Heads Together.

Prince Harry earlier this month spoke with remarkable frankness about the loss of his mother when he was aged just 12 and how his emotions were left bottled up for years before he finally sought counselling.

His brother Prince William also made the headlines on a similar subject with a trans-Atlantic FaceTime chat with pop superstar Lady Gaga, while the Duchess of Cambridge also spoke of her loneliness during motherhood.

Mental health issues have also been given a publicity boost by former England footballer Rio Ferdinand following the loss of his wife to cancer.

Karen said: “Having national public figures, such as Prince William and Prince Harry, putting their weight behind mental health issues can only increase support for the whole agenda. Overall, it helps to destigmatise the issues surrounding poor mental health.”

Charlotte Fitzgerald, a volunteer at Healthwatch, said: “We want the guide to be service-user lead; we want people out there to tell us what should be in it so that we can take their ideas and deliver on them.”

Heads Together is backed by Prince Harry, Prince William, and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, aiming to end stigma around mental health.

The charity was chosen as the London Marathon’s Charity of the Year and comes after the two Princes opened up about how their own mental health suffered after losing their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, to a fatal car crash in 1997.

Contact Healthwatch Wigan and Leigh to inform them of mental health services and groups in the area by emailing Ashleigh@healthwatchwiganandleigh.co.uk or ringing 01942 834666.