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Councillors urge people to be open about mental health

Leading Milton Keynes City councillors are urging people be be open about mental health issues on Time to Talk Day.


Taking place today [Thursday 1st February], Time to Talk Day is referred to by organisers Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and Co-operative Food as “the nation’s biggest mental health conversation.” The yearly event encourages friends, families, communities and workplaces to start discussions about mental health with the hope that these conversations can change lives.


Milton Keynes City Council cabinet member Cllr Shanika Mahendran is encouraging local residents to have a conversation about mental health on Time to Talk Day by sharing her own personal struggles with mental illness.


Cllr Mahendran has spoken openly about her experiences with poor mental health.


Shanika said,


“I’ve experienced depression and anxiety since I was a child, but it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve been able to talk about it openly.


Each person’s experience with mental illness is different. For me, it has been a voice in my head for as long as I can remember telling me that I’m worth less than other people, that I’m not good enough, and at the worst times, this has led me to feeling suicidal. In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic and the isolation that came with it, I was hospitalised after trying to end my own life.


It hasn’t been easy since then, but the biggest thing that has helped has been speaking to those around me about what is going on. I have been met with love, understanding, support, and perhaps most importantly, others around me have begun to speak openly about their mental health, too.


It’s difficult to open up, but the consequences of not doing so can be even worse. You never know who around you might be struggling, so taking that step and starting a conversation can make all the difference. It really could change someone’s life.”


Cllr Emily Darlington, Cabinet for Mental Health, said


“Time to Talk Day is about encouraging people to be open about mental health issues, reduce the stigma around the issue and ensuring people know how to get support if they need it.


Cllr Mahendran talking about her own issues honestly is something a lot of us can relate to in some way and helps to highlight the issue.


Tackling the mental health crisis will be a priority of the next Labour Government, including by cutting waiting lists for mental health services by recruiting thousands more staff and introducing specialist mental health support for children and young people in every school.”


For further information on mental health support available in Milton Keynes can be found here:


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