In 2008 when I separated from my children's father I didn't really give becoming a single mother a second thought. It wasn't a choice, it was just something I was going to have to do. I don't recall feeling any stigma at the time, and I certainly haven't ever received any abusive comments from any one that I know. Unless I was just too busy 'getting on with it' to notice.
Imagine feeling scared. Imagine feeling alone. Imagine feeling completely worn out by a medical condition which is doing it's very best to kill you. Imagine feeling guilty for visiting the doctors, but doing your best to go to all of your appointments nevertheless. Imagine being passed from one professional to another - none of them wanting to take responsibility for your care.
Last week, the BBC aired a potentially ground-breaking episode of Dragons' Den when sanitary box provider 'DAME' made their show debut. It was huge. Their appearance was set to prove that there is money to be made in women's hygiene products and that it's OK to talk about periods. That's pretty amazing. Only it wasn't, at all.
A few months back I was sitting on a train flicking through a free magazine I'd picked up at Kings Cross Station, when I found my eyes drawn to a short write-up about a mental health first aid course. In much the same way as physical first aid, it teaches you to recognise signs of mental ill health and guide the person towards appropriate support.
It is too easy to pathologize bad behaviour with psychobabble and in this instance it hurts real people; it is just highbrow name calling from someone out to make a fast buck at the expense of a vulnerable group of people. Donald Trump isn't what mental illness looks like but his 'diagnosis' is certainly what stigma looks like, and often that stigma is the worst part of having a mental illness and the biggest challenge to recovery from it. How can a person truly recover when no-one will employ them for example?
Tackling survivor stigma is a huge challenge, but if we face it together I believe it is a challenge we can overcome. In doing so, we would be transforming the lives of survivors and future generations afflicted by the scourge of sexual violence. That is too great a prize for us to ignore. I hope you will join me in working to end stigma for good.
This research points out that businesses are right to be concerned about mental health at work - with discrimination, fear and shame in play, it is very hard for the massive potential of mental health as an asset to be realised. It is time this changed. The report calls on British businesses to rise to one of the defining challenges of our time and create a culture in which mental health is valued: where disclosure is encouraged, support is present, and everyone feels that their work and the benefits they receive contribute to their wellbeing.
Loneliness is not an illness. Like dehydration or hunger it is the body's call for something crucial it lacks, though like an illness it can be debilitating to an individual, stripping them of their happiness and self esteem, not to mention potentially dangerous physical symptoms, such as high blood pressure. It is recognised and certifiably dangerous, and loneliness isn't nearly as talked about as it should be.