The Importance of Mental Healthy.

by Paul Holmes

I thought as a follow up to my previous post, that I would explain why I wanted to blog on Mental Healthy.  I am passionate about getting rid of the stigma surrounding mental health. I appreciate for many it’s not a sexy subject that you want to read about, until it happens to you. 

 The thing is, no one is immune to mental health problems as we know. We go through life and things happen and they will either affect immediately or we suppress it and it emerges months or years later in the form of anger, depression etc.

 So I contacted many national magazines and basically said, I felt there was not enough about mental health problems in their magazine and that I would be willing to write a piece for them. I even said I would do this for free, as many magazines say they do not have a budget for new writers and I didn’t want to hear that excuse.  I applied to over 40 magazines and over the following weeks, one by one, got a thanks but no thanks reply in my mail box. I was disappointed but not surprised.

 Then one day, I got a reply from Prima Magazine.  They were producing a piece about people with depression and would I like to contribute. Within 1 minute of getting their email I replied “YES.”

 I would not be writing it, but someone else would and they would contact me to arrange an interview. I was fine by that, at last some articles about depression in the main stream. Also it was not about celebraties, just ordinary folk, this could only be a good thing couldn’t it?

 To make matters a little uncomfortable for me, they wanted to send a photographer to take pictures to go with the article. My modelling days are long behind me to be honest and I was dreading this. The other thing as well, the editor said we want it to look very summery as it will be published in our June edition. She wanted me to find a place full of flowers and wear summery clothes.  The photographer, who was brilliant, came to take the pictures in February. It was -3 degrees, I was wearing a flowery short sleeved shirt and my arms were going blue as I posed in various parts of the garden.

 Then I had the interview. I told them all my lows, all the uncomfortable parts of the past. The lady was very understanding and very interested in what I had to say. It was strange as there seemed to be long periods of uneasy silence, and then I realised she had to write everything down. Over two sessions of nearly 2 hours of interviews I managed to get everything in I could. I was strangely nervous and excited at the same time.

She then mailed me the article and my heart slumped. As with every magazine you pick up, all they focused on was how I lost weight.  Yes the usual weight loss articles that plague these publications. Also it was done in such a way that it looked like I said, “I had depression but lost weight and now I am cured.” The article featured three ladies and me, and basically it skimmed over the real problems. It was watered down and the problems of depression were trivialised.  Two hours of interview was condensed down to 700 words. It appears the editor of Prima felt that their readers would not be able to cope with such in depth detail on depression.

 I was angry but I could not do much to be honest. It was out there and I could not take it back. These magazines are only interested in gossip and fashion. Little do they realise how important it would be just to, every now and then, put something about real life in there. I think their readers would appreciate it.

I feel if mental health matters were published in magazines the same way as articles about losing weight and relationship problems, then we can be more open about things. Losing the stigma seems to be a way off at present, and it’s sad.  It keeps people feeling like outsiders and makes them feel lonely. So many people suffer with mental health issues it would be a huge positive service if they opened up about it in their publications.

 So Mental Healthy allows this. It gives us a voice and allows us to interact with each other. It’s glossy and great to read, with some celeb articles, health articles and the list goes on. This is how it should be, this is why my little page is important to me and hopefully together we can work on getting the message out there.   

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