ONE in four Wyre Forest residents will encounter a mental health problem this year, either of their own or in some friend or relative.

Mental health, which is one of those things we don’t like to talk about, covers a wide spectrum from psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder through to more common conditions like anxiety and depression.

Difficulties that people face include self harming, eating disorders, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive neurosis, and different types of personality disorder.

Here are some statistics:

  • Each week, 104 people in the UK will take their own lives. A total of 2,038 adults will be admitted to mental health hospitals in England – about five million inpatient days per year.
  • There will be 912 detentions under the Mental Health Act 1983. Some 385 of these will be voluntary admissions.
  •  Every year, 33 million prescriptions for anti-depressants are written in England and 16 million for sleeping pills, anti-anxiety drugs or tranquillisers.
  •  The annual total cost of mental health problems in England is estimated at £77 billion.
  •  One in 10 working people in Europe have taken time off work with depression.
  •  Depressive illness is forecast by the World Health Organisation to be the second leading cause of global disability by 2020.

Challenges in the NHS mean that mental health services are very vulnerable to cutbacks. So Wyre Forest Mind believes it could help hundreds of people in Wyre Forest either directly or through helping them to help themselves through mutual support groups.

Already, backed by promises of funding from the charitable efforts of Kidderminster Mayor, John Aston, Mind is running 10-week anxiety management courses.

Planning is underway for support groups for people who hear voices, sufferers from anxiety and depression and for carers of people who have mental health problems.

Organisations are being offered training about mental health by people who have lived through experience of mental health issues.

Wyre Forest Mind is currently being operated by Dudley Mind which has established a local telephone number to call for advice and help – 01562 881678.

The charity needs financial support, but more importantly help from volunteers, particularly those recovering from mental health problems and their carers.

Openness about mental health has been helped by public figures such as ‘Freddie’ Flintoff, Stan Collymore and Ruby Wax revealing their own mental health issues.

Nevertheless the remaining stigma and discrimination still deters many people from seeking help.

Most sufferers can be helped to lead normal lives again like those recovering from physical illness.

STEPHEN CLARK Chair of Trustees Wyre Forest Mind