If we break a leg, catch a cold or cut our finger we aren't afraid to tell someone about it or seek medical help for the pain or discomfort. So why is it that when it comes to our mental health we seem happier to leave the subject in the dark choosing instead not to discuss it or bring it out into the open?
One of the reasons mental health is so stigmatised is because it is misunderstood and not discussed as freely as other medical conditions. The Mind Your Head group is aiming to change that.
More than £10,000 has been raised so far following the funeral of Gary Manson who died in April 2004. Donations from a variety of other sources have included over £3,600 from the Bigton rowing team, £1,200 from nurses from ward three at the Gilbert Bain Hospital, £1,812.50 from Donna Mainland and Ian Simpson and £950 from Grant Redfern who all took part in the Great North Run, £750 from BP, £700 collected at a family ruby wedding anniversary last year and £500 was donated from the Aith Charity Shop.
In memory of Gary, Mind Your Head was born. Gary's family, who have been instrumental in taking the group forward, have named the group Mind Your Head because they wanted it to reflect a Shetland feel. They have spent the last year or so working together to clearly define what they want to achieve and it was decided that rather than giving a one-off payment to one institution they wanted Mind Your Head to be an on-going organisation, primarily to raise understanding and reduce the misguided shame that is so often associated with mental health issues.
Gary’s sister Shona said: "We want to raise awareness of mental issues in Shetland to help reduce the stigma and to make it a more easily talked about subject. From the counselling side of things we want to make sure we speak to professionals to see where there may be gaps in services and try and look at the best way that we can make regular donations to counselling and/or training."
They are in the process of establishing a committee to fine tune the aims and objectives of the group. They will be contacting mental health professionals to ensure they are not overlapping existing services, but they will not be undertaking any therapeutic work with individuals.
The primary aim of Mind Your Head is to promote mental health positively throughout Shetland through promotional material, fundraising events, leaflets, wrist bands and any other means possible.
Shona said: "We appreciate the isolation that individuals can feel and how more understanding and openess in the community could help where the stigma of mental health starts to be broken down. NHS and social work as well as other voluntary organisations and the community as a whole can help. Mental health is not something to be ashamed of and as a community I feel we owe it to each other to be more open and accepting of one another's differences.”
Mind your head are currently working closely with Shetland Council of Social Services to obtain charitable status for the group.
A HEALTHY mind goes hand in hand with a health body so what better way to promote positive mental health than to take part in a fun run around Spiggie Loch the middle of August.
No matter your age, gender, fitness level or capability you are invited to take part in a 10k Round Spiggie Fun Run raising funds for Mind Your Head, in memory of Gary Manson.
For those less athletic a 5k fun run, will also be arranged with transport pre-booked to take participants to the start line.
The fun run can be completed in whatever way each participant wishes. If athletes want to run the distance for a time trial, or a mum wants to push her baby round at a leisurely pace or a group of friends want to do it fancy dress or three-legged they are all more than welcome.
The aim of the day is to get as many people together from all communities and walks of life to promote and raise awareness of the issues surrounding mental health.
The fun run is to be held on Sunday 6 August 2006 and will start at 2pm from the Boddam Hall and end there with teas, soup, sandwiches and homebakes for all to tuck in to when they get back.
The hall will also be open to the public to come along for Sunday teas along with entertainment for the bairns to help raise funds for Mind Your Head.
Organiser Shona Manson said: "We recognise the huge benefits of exercise in relation to mental health conditions and this is a great way on a (hopefully!) summer's day to get folk together to not only enjoy themselves but to think about how they can do their bit to promote positive mental health in Shetland."
Sponsorship forms will also be available for anyone wishing to raise further funds for the group.
Those who would like advice on getting in trim for the events are advised to consult their local sports centre.
Further information is available from Shona on (01595) 696465 or if you have any further ideas for fundraising or would like to make a donation to Mind Your Head Shona would be more than happy to hear from you.
See press over the coming weeks for details on how to register.