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Mind’s president Stephen Fry opens up for Heads Together

Wednesday, 12 April 2017 Mind

Mind’s president Stephen Fry has today released a film of him opening up to his therapist about the pressures of his mental health, as part of the Heads Together campaign.

The latest film has been published on the Heads Together YouTube page and website alongside the first set in the series, which feature a range of people including familiar faces such as Mind ambassadors Ruby Wax and Alastair Campbell, as well as Stephen Manderson (Professor Green) and cricketer Freddie Flintoff. More films will be released in the run up to the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon, for which Heads Together is the Official Charity of the Year.

The film series released by Heads Together, the campaign spearheaded by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, features people from all walks of life talking about the life changing conversations that helped them cope with their mental health problems.

Stephen Fry talks with his psychiatrist Bill on a bench in St James’s Park about his mental health breaking down and how talking openly helped him heal, and continues to help him manage his mental health. The film was directed by Simon Amstell, who has talked and written about his own mental health problems.

The films comes at a time when research from Time to Change, which Mind runs in partnership with Rethink Mental Illness, shows that mental health just isn’t on the radar for many men. Launching their five year ‘In your corner’ campaign (the link to this external content from Time to Change has expired), Time to Change is now urging men to be in their mate’s corner when it comes to mental health and recognise how their attitudes and behaviour can make all the difference. To reach men, Time to Change have launched a short, high-impact film featuring three heroic ‘corner men’; regular guys who are in a mate’s corner when he really needs them.

Alongside the films, Heads Together has also released a new YouGov poll showing the following differences between men and women when it comes to opening up about mental health:

  • 42% of men have had a conversation about mental health in the previous three months compared to 58% of women
  • 29% of men think it is likely they will expect to talk about their mental health in the next six months compared to 37% of women
  • 83% of both men and women find conversations about mental health helpful
  • 43% of women compared with 27% of men stated strong emotions on the day of a recent conversation about mental health impacted their decision to start that conversation
  • 48% of women versus 36% of men cited that being ‘particularly comfortable around the person’ on the day of a recent conversation about mental health impacted their decision to start that conversation
  • 54% of men who think they will have a conversation about their mental health in the next six months said they are likely to choose a member of their family to have that conversation with, compared with 71% of women

In the film, Mind’s President Stephen Fry said:

“It was very difficult but it was ultimately the healing thing, talking was a really a very strong part of the healing.”

Stephen’s psychiatrist Bill (Dr. William Shanahan) said:

“Most people aren’t very good at opening up and I think we have to, I certainly have to, get people to feel that this is going to be a comfortable time and a helpful time for them. One conversation can make all the difference for people.”

In statement issued when the films series launched The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry said:

"Attitudes to mental health are at a tipping point. We hope these films show people how simple conversations can change the direction of an entire life. Please share them with your friends and families and join us in a national conversation on mental health in the weeks ahead."

Paul Farmer CBE, Chief Executive of Mind, said:

“We’re tremendously grateful to Stephen both for lending his support to the Heads Together campaign by opening up about his own experiences and for everything he does for Mind as our president. We know the real damage that silence and stigma around mental health problems is doing. We simply have to stop shying away from talking about it. You don’t need to be an expert to start a conversation and there are no hard and fast rules for what to say, just be kind, compassionate, listen and don’t judge.

“It’s fantastic to see so many people supporting Heads Together and role modelling their own conversations about mental health. We hope that, alongside Time to Change’s own In Your Corner campaign, we can inspire thousands of others to follow in their footsteps.”



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