Don't Cover Up Your Health Problems

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Encouraging young males not to hide their true feelings is the key theme of a new mental health promotion campaign launched today.

The Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey launched the second phase of the 'Minding Your Head' campaign, which highlights the need to reduce the stigma around the issue of mental health amongst young males, in order to get people talking about their problems and to seek help.

The campaign, which was developed by the Health Promotion Agency, is being taken forward as part of the implementation of the Northern Ireland Suicide Prevention Strategy and includes TV, radio, outdoor and washroom advertising.

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Launching the campaign, Michael McGimpsey said: "Unfortunately there has been a long standing culture in Northern Ireland where people do not feel comfortable with opening up and discussing their mental health. Young males, in particular, often find it difficult to talk to friends, family and health professionals about how they feel. This is, in part, perhaps due to the stigma that is attached to the issue. Mental health illness can however affect any of us, at any time and it is nothing to be ashamed of.

"The campaign I am launching today therefore attempts to encourage young men not to cover up their problems. If you are feeling down or in distress, take the first step and talk to someone. People often say that a problem shared is a problem halved. By talking to someone you can start to resolve the issue."

The Minister continued: "Our levels of suicide and self harm are a manifestation of poor mental health. Sadly, one in five of those who lost their lives to suicide in 2007 were young men aged 16 - 34. I therefore hope that this campaign will help in encouraging everyone, but especially young men, to look after their mental health in the same way as they would their physical health."

The Minister also highlighted that he recently launched a regional helpline - 'Lifeline' for those in need. The people who answer the calls are trained counsellors and are available 24/7 to listen and provide help and support in the strictest confidence. They are trained to deal with issues such as suicide, self-harm, abuse, trauma, anxiety and depression. Lifeline can be contacted on 0808 808 8000.

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