Corby-born Stephen Mitchell has been selected by Mind, the UK’s largest mental health charity, to show the modern face of mental health.
Stephen, 24, has personal experience of mental health problems and was chosen from more than 300 applicants from across the country to take part as a model in a photo shoot that will form the basis of Mind’s communication materials for the future, including its website, information booklets and posters.
Despite the fact that one in four people experience a mental health problem in any given year, stigma and misconception persist around mental health. Nine out of 10 people with mental health problems have experienced discrimination because of it, with many people saying that this can be a bigger burden than the illness itself.
Stephen, who has experienced depression over a number of years, felt so indebted to the local Mind branch that supported him during his most difficult patches, that he has since given more than 2,000 hours of his time over an 18-month period to voluntary service.
As a consequence he has been awarded several awards, including the Young Volunteer of the Year at the Northamptonshire Youth Ambition Award 2013.
He said: ‘I want to give back to mental health, and part of that is wanting people to feel it’s OK to talk to family or friends about their mental health. I also wanted to prove that, whatever has happened to you over the years, you should never give up. Since doing the photo shoot I’ve felt so much more passion for going to work and being active in mental health.”
By choosing to use volunteers with lived experience, rather than models, Mind hopes to draw people’s attention to the fact that everyone has mental health, as well as physical health, to look after and that having a mental health problem is very common.
Mind provides help and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem through its network of more than 150 local Minds, as well as through its Infoline and award-winning publications and website.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “Mind believes that no one should have to face a mental health problem alone. We hope that by being open and honest in the way we represent ourselves, we can dispel stigma and encourage everybody to take care of the mental health of themselves and those around them. I’d like to thank all of the volunteers who took part in the photo shoot for standing up and showing the true face of mental health.”