Tag Archive | stan collymore

House of Commons

You’d have thought that a gathering of depressives and their supporters (not sure what to call a gathering of depressives?) would have been a rather sombre affair but you couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, if you could have heard the increasing  volume of raucous laughter and jolity coming from Dining Room A, you may have been forgiven thinking it was a comedians party. But serious business was being done.

I was invited to the House of Commons yesterday as a guest of the Depression Alliance for a reception to celebrate the initial success of their Friend in Need Appeal. The appeal is raising much needed funds to help establish a new website service to help combat the loneliness that often accompanies mental illness.

It’s hoped the service, which will put people in touch with others living in their area, will be launched before the end of the year.

The funds are rocking and rolling in and the DA are spreading their wings to join with other charities and organisations in this quest to provide the support which everyone knows is one of the most potent weapons in your fight against depression and low mood-FRIENDS.

Alan Clayton kicked off the reception with a rousing, and at times, very moving speech about the importance of having good friends around you when things are not going well. As well as being blighted by depression himself he has been through the traumatic experience of his best friend committing suicide. At a time when maybe being a “Friend” would have made a difference, Alan listened to the 9 messages left on his answerphone asking him to call her but thinking that it could wait until morning, he went to bed. Sadly, whatever it was couldn’t wait until morning and by the time Alan made contact, his best friend was dead.

This is partly why Alan is so committed and passionate about this appeal and clearly knows first-hand why friends are such a vital element in the life of a depressive. But not everyone has friends and family support network to help them through. Many drift away, unable to cope with someone who has depression. It is hard being a friend to someone who has withdrawn, become a “different” person and it is often easier to walk away.

The Friends in Need initiative is about to address all these concerns and aims to provide everyone with a friend when most needed.

I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t had the support and understanding of my friends, family and colleagues; the patience and committment of the mental health professionals looking after me and yes, a sheer stubborn determination and fundamental belief that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Not everyone has these advantages in their fight against depression so I am asking everyone to think about this initiative and spread the word.

And most importantly, make sure that your best friend doesn’t die friendless.

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I’m fed up…

no, not with life. With the constant stream of celebrities and high-profile sportsmen and women admitting to having depression. In itself this is not a bad thing, it’s just that it’s getting boring. Those of us who suffer with depression know how debilitating it is; know how it affects work and family and even with the spurt of admissions from well-known people over the past 12-18 months has anything changed?

I’m not sure. It all seems very “old hat” and repetitive. So what we need now  is for someone to highlight the next steps. What has the Government, NHS, businesses, charities, anyone done to improve treatment of depression and eliminate the stigma attached to mental illness? Undoubtedly it helps if more people talk about mental illness but someone needs to listen to the man and woman “on the street” too. Everyone who is struggling to cope under difficult circumstances not just those in the public eye.

I have particular sympathy with sportsmen and women with the ultimate in competitive personality  who don’t get the psychological support required in this day and age to cope with the extreme ups and downs of competition. That is a failing in our sporting structure that we are aeons behind other countries in looking after the mental health welfare of our sports stars but even so, they are only a small minority when considering the impact of depression on the population as a whole. Have Freddie, Stan, Brian et al had to endure a “fit to work” assessment from ATOS?  I’d be interested to know what the GB Olympic Committee have done to minimise the risk of post-Olympic depression as suffered by some after Beijing. 

I’m lucky. Having admitted to my depression 18 months ago, my employer has made mental health it’s priority for 2012 and is involved with several initiatives to try to help all employees who are debilitated by mental illness and to educate all employees in how to avoid stress-related depression. We are not perfect but we are trying. I hope that the recent revelations by the likes of Freddie and Stan lead to positive action being taken to help everyone.

Afterall I believe that this is no longer an illness suffered by the minority. It is more widespread that anyone can imagine.

Let’s DO something about it.