MORE than a third of Scots who have struggled with their mental health don’t feel comfortable talking openly about it, according to new research released today.

To change this See Me, Scotland’s programme to end mental health discrimination, is calling for people to take action in 2020 to tackle the stigma around mental health, so people never have to feel ashamed or embarrassed to say they’re struggling.

A survey of 1181 people who currently, or previously experienced mental health problems, found that 35% are not comfortable speaking about their own mental health.

See Me, who commissioned Censuswide to carry out the survey, want to see workplaces, community groups, schools, universities and health and social care providers take proactive steps to improve cultures around mental health, starting with taking part in Time to Talk day, on February 6.

Time to Talk day aims to get everyone in the country talking about mental health, to stop people from feeling isolated when they are struggling.

Tommy Kelly, 39, from Irvine, is encouraging people take part in to Time to Talk day, as he experienced a lot of difficulty in being able to speak about what he was going through, and when he did reach out didn’t always get a helpful response.

The National: Tommy Kelly is encouraging people take part in to Time to Talk dayTommy Kelly is encouraging people take part in to Time to Talk day

He said: “I think that being able to talk about my mental health has made me accept myself as a person and not an illness. I was worried that my eating disorder was my identity, however accepting that I had a problem and speaking out about it helped my recovery.

“It’s so important that people reach out and talk to someone if they are worried about them, asking someone if they are okay can make the biggest difference. It’s knowing that there is someone there you can trust.

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“Having that person I could speak to was massive. I’ve had friends through my life who have always asked me how I am and it makes a real difference.

“But it’s not always easy to talk and really hard to talk and then not get help. I wasn’t always taken seriously. I was given anti-depressants, even though that wasn’t going to help, and basically told to go away. That made me withdraw further.

“I became really unwell before I got help. But I’d encourage anyone to keep talking and asking for help, try different GPs, speak to different people. Not everyone listens, but keep trying.

“I’d encourage everyone to be more open to listening in the New Year. People stigmatise mental health and if you’re struggling it demeans you. Just because you have a mental health problem, doesn’t mean that you’re less than other people. To stop the stigma people need to know more about mental health, and that means talking more.”

Wendy Halliday, See Me interim director, said: “Too many people with mental health problems are still made to feel isolated, worthless and ashamed. Conversations have the power to change lives, wherever they take place.

“See Me wants to make this years’ Time to Talk to be the biggest and best yet. Wherever you are on the day, have your conversation about mental health.

“You can go onto our website and order materials, get ideas on activities and events you can run and download everything you need to support on social media.”