Stop using mental health as bait

We all love to boo a pantomime baddie, but that’s usually because they’re stealing a magic lamp or weaving destructive magic spells. We know it’s all made up and we know they’ll get their comeuppance. But yet again, Katie Hopkins and Piers Morgan are enjoying the boos and hisses by taking their pantomime into real life. They’re baiting us with mental health stigma. Sadly, that’s not fictional.

MegaphoneBBC Question Time was a prime hook for the recent onslaught of mental health provocation with Katie Hopkins, rather predictably, tweeting:

‘Breaking news: it is possible to pay for mental health counselling privately if you save hard enough’.

Of course the mentally ill are fair game aren’t they. They’re bound to get upset and have a tantrum. That’ll get the Twitter engagement figures flying. That’ll land more controversial headlines.

It was much the same with Piers Morgan’s recent attacks on Will Young:

‘Will Young does not have PTSD. He has WNTS – Whiny Needy Twerp Syndrome.’

Mental health campaigner Denise Welch rightly called him out which resulted in more mud-slinging from the lovely Piers who called Denise a ‘publicity-starved bore’. Nice.

So why am I falling into the trap and talking about them some more? Because they already have the platform and the airtime. They already have the ears and eyes of millions of people. And they already have the power to influence. Sadly.

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Because mental health isn’t just an adult issue

I’ve been writing quite a bit this month on mental health and children and young people.  I was young when I first experienced a panic attack and had no idea what was happening. And we know the experience can be made all the more difficult to endure if you can’t communicate what’s happening – it can feel lonely and isolating and, well, pretty damn weird!

So here are the two articles online with Metro – please share your thoughts in the comment section. It’s an interesting – and very important – topic.

Why mental health education should be compulsory in schools

How should we talk to children and young people about mental health

If you want any further information on these topics, please visit Young Minds or the Shaw Mind Foundation.





A series of unfortunate stereotypes – the book!

Hello lovely people!

Front cover - A series of Unfortunate StereotypesSo I’m massively excited today to share my new book cover and links to pre order A series of unfortunate stereotypes – Naming and Shaming Mental Health Stigmas.

Of course I don’t name and shame people (just Piers Morgan and Katie Hopkins – but they don’t count) but I do discuss the bizarre pop culture of the 80s and 90s and how it made me think about mental health.

From stranger danger and Charley the cat in the 80s, to grunge, rock stars and the ‘glamour’ of drugs and torment in the 90s, to struggles with being a ‘grown up’ today, my book is a bit of a nostalgic and humorous trip back through the decades that influenced us all, and the stigma around mental health.

‘Lucy writes with humour and intelligence’ Denise Welch

‘Lucy’s warmth and candour shine through in her writing’ Standard Issue

So, if you fancy pre-ordering (it’s out in Feb) you can order here

We shouldn’t shy away from the ugly side of mental illness

1 in 4 of us experience mental illness at some point in our lives – but its prevalence doesn’t make it an easy ride.

We have the US president tackling the ‘stigma’ of guns by blaming mass shootings on mental illness instead.

But the image of violent mentally ill people is untrue. According to Time to Change, the majority of violent crimes and homicides are committed by people who do not have mental health problems, yet 90% of people who die through suicide each year are experiencing mental distress.

And at the other end of the scale, I feel it’s unfair to talk of the ‘common’ disorders (e.g. depression and anxiety) as if they’re nothing more than feeling a bit down or on edge.

Read the full article on Metro.

It’s fine to be flawed

I had a big cry-baby snot fest the other night. First time in ages. Other than, perhaps, the sporadic slightly fizzy nose that occurs when happening upon ‘suggested for you’ Facebook videos of cute ‘n’ cuddly animals loving each other despite their differing species’.

It’s hard work spitting all those tears out. But even though your eyes feel sore and your nose looks like you’re six months too early for Comic Relief, it’s actually quite relieving. So I’m going to finish the job by blogging. Let’s see if we can get the rest of this stubborn nonsense out via a qwerty keypad…

This is not a reflective post. This is not a ‘today I learnt x…’ post. This is a ‘perhaps with each word I type I will make myself feel a teensy bit better’ post. It’s an attempt at self care, I guess.

So here goes.

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A right royal knees up


How many social media channels can I share this news on?! I’ll be spamming other people’s blog sites next

(I wont).

Anyway, apologies if you’ve already seen this on Twitter, Facebook, Workplace or LinkedIn, but those bloody lovely people at Time to Change only went and got me an invite to Buckingham bloody Palace on World Mental Health Day!

A few weeks ago, Ellie from the Time to Change media team told me she had a Heads Together invite for me. I was like, nice one, cool, sounds good. Of course, I was expecting an invite to something far different…

However, she greeted me at Storycamp last month with a rather plush envelope and an invite to a reception hosted by the three young royals.

And despite having very little sleep due to a long late night trek from London to Newcastle, I am still buzzing.

Here’s my own version of Hello magazine.

Hello….mental health royalty you bloody brilliant bunch of stigma busters. But before moving on to the pics, massive shout out to the London cab driver who donated half my fare to Anxious Minds North East following our chat about mental health – what a fella!

Photo credits – In-Press Photography (if they’ good – if they’re not, they’re from the iPhones of us lot).

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Us lot! The Time to Change team. Full of royal anticipation.


A sneaky group selfie taken by the inspirational Sue Baker OBE!

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No caption needed, really. The royal young ‘uns with the big hearts and an even bigger passion for mental health awareness. Working the room to chat to their guests.

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The KING of my favourite childhood telly programmes (got to love Melchett), the quite interesting facts and, of course, the mental health campaigners. A truly inspirational speech from Mr Fry. My new mate Dee was openly blubbing. (In-Press Photography)

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The soiree. Favourite moment? Had to be Dee asking if the champers was cava. Response – ‘We don’t serve cava here’. (In-Press Photography)

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Me and my new friend Dee making new friends from the Department of Health and a mental health charity. I also met some amazing people from Rethink who have a great approach to involvement (In-Press Photography).

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The guy on the left is Steve. He almost made me cry within minutes of me meeting him. He’s been through so, so much. And has since spoken at the House of Lords, he lectures at Northumbria University and he has just had an amazing reunion with long last family. Amazing guy! (In-Press Photography)

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The two Jos – on the left, Jo the Time to Change Head of Comms (and my new kindred spirit) and on the right, Jo the joint director (with Sue Baker). I could chat to these two all day. I’m not sure how they’d cope, mind. (In-Press Photography).


I became star struck with these two. The fabulous Paul Farmer of Mind and the amazing Bryony Gordon. I fan-girled her so bad she may be concerned that she has a stalker. Sorry Bryony (note the familiarity there as if we’re bezzie mates? I read her book, therefore I KNOW her. Joke.)


Joss’ crew with me, Jodie, Jo and erm….Prof Green. I’m not cool. In fact, sharing the group picture with me makes Professor Green look more kids’ TV presenter than edgy urban rapper (even just me saying the words ‘crew’, ‘Prof Green’ and ‘edgy urban rapper’ ruins his, and everyone else’s, street cred. Even saying ‘street cred’. Sorry. OLD.

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Me and Jo. Totally need to share another glass with this one.

And to finish off a perfect day (other than my Co-Op tights falling down and my totally awks expectation that Alastair Campbell and Ruby Wax would remember retweeting me once) we managed to bump Steve and Angela (TTC regional co-ordinator) up to First Class (which I had got cheap – early birds and all that). So THANK YOU Virgin Trains – who, like my employer, have also signed the Time to Change pledge. Phew.

Right. Off to bed.