THE recession has caused a rise in the number of people suffering from mental illness.

A Huddersfield support group for people with mental health problems has found a rise in referrals because of the recession.

And now they want people to follow in the footsteps of celebrities like Frank Bruno, Ruby Wax and Stephen Fry and come forward to talk about their mental health problems.

David Hegarty, co-manager of System To Recovery, said: “We get about 100 referrals monthly and it has continued to rise during the recession.

“Cases of anxiety have risen as we are in uncertain times.

“This could be down to feelings of helplessness, or status.

“There is also the feeling of anxiousness as people worry if there will be any work.

“We find that it is often difficult for people to come forward if they are suffering, as there is such a stigma about mental illness.

“Although things have progressed since the 1990s, people still feel uncomfortable confiding about the details of their mental health including, in some cases, to their own family.

“We are trying to make people aware that when you have a mental illness your life doesn’t have to stop in its tracks – you will recover.”

System to Recovery was founded in April, 2008, after charity, Concern for Mental Health, which was managed by David, joined with Dash – Depression, Anxiety and Self Help – which was run by Janet Pollard.

Janet, who also co-manages the group, said: “The amount of people that we have had has definitely risen. It could be due to campaigns such as Time to Change who have worked really hard to get rid of the stigma and make people talk about it.

“But the recession has had a large part to play in the rise of cases of anxiety.

“We offer support to people who need to get their life back. Sometimes it’s just a case that they have lost control of the reins, and they just need to pull it back and need to remember they are in control.

“People who are referred to us can come along and have a welcome session

“One of the things that seems to concern people when they come to a meeting is the other people.

“After being here they soon realise that these people are just people like themselves.

“It seems as though there is a difference. People can understand physical health problems, they can relate to it better but there is a lack of understanding on mental illness.

“Everybody’s case is different. If somebody breaks a leg, the process thereafter is straightforward, they know what caused it, they see a doctor, they have a pot and they know when that is taken off.

“Mental illness does not work in the same way. Everybody has a different route or a different time to recovery as their diagnosis may be slightly different.

“Our work is based on the recovery model and we promote self help.

“We also want to get rid of this stigma and get people talking. Celebrities such as Frank Bruno, Ruby Wax and Stephen Fry have talked about their experiences to aid the cause.”

The organisation, which is primarily funded by Kirklees Council and NHS Kirklees, works in conjunction with the Job Centre and several other mental health organisations.

To find out more about System to Recovery and their work visit

The national charity for mental health Mind launched a campaign entitled Time to Change, which has also aimed to get people talking about their experiences.