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Blogging by people with mental health conditions can break down barriers and help others understand mental illness better.


Public Health England recently launched a new initiative which aims to get people talking about mental health issues. A Day in the Life is an online project which enables people who suffer from mental health problems to share their experiences via an anonymous, publicly accessible blog. Participants will be uploading their contributions on four specified days between autumn 2014 and summer 2015, writing about a range of topics, such as how their mental health problems affect their everyday lives, what makes their mental health better and what makes it worse.

There have been many calls in recent times for more open discussion about mental health issues, not least from mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health nurses. Stigma and discrimination are all too common and this initiative is about giving people with mental health issues a voice, helping others understand more about what it's like to live day in, day out with a mental illness. 

With around 25% of people experiencing some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year, and conditions such as anorexia on the rise, this is something that can easily affect any of us, directly or indirectly. It's important for parents and other family members to be able to spot the signs of mental illness in their loved ones. According to a recent survey by Action for Children, 40% of parents put their children's emotional wellbeing above any other health issue.

A Day in the Life may be the first blog to deal exclusively with people's day-to-day mental health experiences in a systematic way, but there are many other online resources that can provide useful information for both professionals (such as psychiatrists and mental health nurses) and for family members or carers. For example, through its podcasts the Royal College of Psychiatrists offers opportunities to listen to people talking about their experiences of living with depression, bipolar and many other psychiatric and mental health problems. There's also the Time for Change campaign run by mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, which has a section of its website dedicated to talking about mental health. As Professor Kevin Fenton of Public Health England puts it, "The internet has made it possible for more people with mental health difficulties than ever before to share their experiences, both good and bad." 

Visit A Day in the Life here. If you're a mental health professional with views on the issues raised in this article, please leave your comments below.

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