PUBLISHED: 08:06 17 May 2018 | UPDATED: 08:06 17 May 2018
The father of a Meldreth teenager who died by suicide has said “awareness must be translated into action”, in light of Mental Health Awareness Week – which started on Monday.
Steve Mallen’s son Edward was just 18 when took his own life in 2015 – after which Steve formed The MindEd Trust and has campaigned tirelessly to change how mental health is understood and treated both locally and at a national level.
He told the Crow: “We very much welcome the fact that there is Mental Health Awareness Week. The greatest barrier to seeking help when you’re mentally ill is reluctance of people to come forward, owing to shame and stigma. What the awareness week does is it reminds us that it is OK not be OK.
“The good thing about awareness initiatives of this kind is that they start to destroy the shame and stigma which means those that are suffering come forward more quickly.
“Our primary objective must be to now translate awareness into action, our community and our country are changing their understanding of mental health, but what we need to do is ensure that those who need support – especially young people – are able to access care quickly and efficiently.
“I will not rest until I am confident that were my dear son Edward to walk into a doctor’s surgery or a hospital today that the outcome would likely have been different – unfortunately we are not there yet, but we are making good progress.”
Mr Mallen has now created the Zero Suicide Alliance – a collaborative of National Health Service trusts, businesses and individuals who are all dedicated to suicide prevention in the UK and beyond – and is in direct conversation with Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, regarding creating mental health awareness and suicide prevention programmes across the UK.
He said: “Mental health is an issue across our community, society and the business world. It is important to recognise this to improve care and treatment for those experiencing difficulties and relieving the burden on society.
“If we did something about mental illnesses, business would be more productive, schools would be more successful and families would be happier.”
Mr Mallen has been working with Cambridgeshire County Council, which has launched a Stop Suicide Month which runs throughout May, and is also campaigning for support for families who have lost loved ones to suicide.
He said: “As with any family, our family will never recover from our tragic loss and there are unfortunately many tens of thousands of families like ours up and down the country.
“We need to do alot better as a society in not just caring for patients but also caring for those around them.”
Mr Mallen said the MindEd Trust “continues to enjoy wonderful local support” and is continuing to work with communities and schools both in Herts and Cambs in order to provide mental health education and psycological support.
For more information go to themindedtrust.org.