Many people take their mental health for granted, and do not realise how completely debilitating and devastating mental illness can be, and how it can prevent someone from living what our society would define as a ‘normal’ life.
We also live in a society that does not encourage us to take care of our own mental health or that of the people around us.
We place ourselves, and others, under enormous stress and pressure, we criticise and ridicule, forgetting that human beings are vulnerable, our self-esteem fragile.
A very important part of the purpose of Chestnut is to increase public awareness of mental health issues.
Having a mental health problem is nothing to be ashamed of; it can happen to anyone at any time. A mental illness is just that, an illness, like pneumonia or measles, which carry no shame.
Our mental and physical health are intimately connected, and one impacts on the other.
The frequency of mental health problems is rising rapidly due to the stresses and pressures of modern life, to unemployment, and to the greater availability of drugs and alcohol.
It is the close links between mental health problems and unemployment that SWOP hopes to help remedy. Unemployment leads to boredom, loneliness, isolation, lack of confidence and self-esteem. Sheltered work in a pressure-free environment can be the first step back to training or work, or can be an end in itself, restoring human dignity and happiness.
Having a mental health problem does not necessarily mean having an unhappy life. With love, support and care, feeling oneself needed and cared for, mental well-being can be restored.