I AM writing in response to the article ‘Mad or bad?’ (“Expert view” Feb 12) which considered how mental health issues are handled in court and highlighted how they were treated in the past, looking at cases where people with mental health problems committed violent acts and crimes.
While the treatment of people with mental health problems has come a very long way in recent years, levels of understanding have still got a way to go.
The idea that mentally ill people pose a threat to society is a stereotype which is not founded in reality. In fact, it has been concluded in the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide that “the public fear the mentally ill, but they are more at risk from heavy drinkers”.
People with mental health problems are blighted by stigma, created by a lack of understanding and, all too often, media reports and Hollywood portrayals.
As your article correctly pointed out 52% of people know someone close to them who has suffered a mental illness. Hardly surprising, when you consider that one in four of us will experience a mental health problem each year. It’s even more common than asthma or heart disease.
Yet all too often stigma means that people do not want to talk about it. I would like to invite your readers to consider learning more about mental health issues and mental wellbeing by joining their local NHS trust as a member and taking a stand against stigma.
The South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust, which provides mental health services in Kirklees Calderdale and Wakefield, is applying to become a foundation trust, a new type of organisation based on membership. By joining as a member you would not only receive information about looking after your mental health but you would also get the chance to have your say about local NHS services.
Membership is free and open to anyone over the age of 11. To find out more call 01484 343395 or visit www.southwestyorkshire.nhs.uk
Chief Executive, South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust