Celebrities Declare #IAMWHOLE To End Mental Health Stigma

by : Francesca Donovan on : 15 May 2018 12:51

In partnership with WHOLE

Celebrities With Mental Health Issues Declare #IAMWHOLECelebrities With Mental Health Issues Declare #IAMWHOLE


In the fight to end mental health stigma, celebrities have leant their influential voices to a campaign declaring #IAMWHOLE.

From Ed Sheeran to Paloma Faith by way of Ricky Hatton, Professor Green and Romesh Ranganathan, countless British public figures have followed Rizzle Kicks’ Jordan Stephens on his mission to change the way we talk about mental health.

The campaign, #IAMWHOLE, was initiated after research showed young people with real, diagnosable metal illnesses weren’t seeking help because the language surrounding their symptoms caused them shame or embarrassment.


From accusations of ‘attention-seeking’ to calling someone ‘crazy’, the little things we say – words which have become part of everyday language – can seriously impact someone’s perception of self.

We all know mental health doesn’t discriminate. So neither should our words.

UNILAD met some more famous faces to ask how words affect their mental health:

This is the message of the charitable organisation, WHOLE, behind the campaign:

Mental health difficulties can affect any child or young person, across all spectrums of society.

Currently in the UK and Ireland, nearly one million children and young people have a diagnosed mental health difficulty. This is equivalent to three children in every classroom.

#IAMWHOLE is an anti-stigma mental health campaign developed in partnership with the NHS and YMCA with the aim of encouraging young people to speak out and seek help.

We Need To Change The Way We Deal With Stress And Take Action Against Poor Mental Health And Loneliness And Social AnxietyWe Need To Change The Way We Deal With Stress And Take Action Against Poor Mental Health And Loneliness And Social AnxietyPexels

The project has reached over 120 million people on social media since 2016; an amazing feat after their initial mission’s humble beginnings set out to improve the lives of youngsters in Brighton & Hove.

What began as a regional awareness campaign with secondary school students quickly reached an audience nationwide.

Here’s what Jordan Stephens, the WHOLE brand ambassador, had to say:

Their mission is threefold: Starting conversations with young people about mental health; educating young people on mental health; and encouraging young people to share their experiences of mental health.

Their 2017 campaign challenged us all to speak out against harmful language used in discussions around mental health, and their famous supporters – as well as the NHS and the YMCA – have come out in favour of ending negative language when we talk about matters of the mind.

WHOLE, in partnership with UNILAD, are also calling for action.

On Mental Health Awareness Week 2018, the Mental Health Foundation are tackling stress; a leading factor in illnesses of the body and mind.

While stress is an innate human feeling – like the flight or flight reaction – the trappings of 21st century life mean our stress response is constantly triggered.


So much so, a lot of us are as stressed out by someone pushing to the front of a queue as we would be if a lion attacked us.

We Need To Change The Way We Deal With Stress And Social AnxietyWe Need To Change The Way We Deal With Stress And Social Anxiety

Mark Rowland, Director of Fundraising and Communications for the Mental Health Foundation, said:

In one of life’s bitter ironies, our stress response – which has done so much to keep us alive – now threatens to drastically reduce the quality of our lives.

Here’s how to combat stress, according to the NHS:

You might think stress is just for adults, but actually, young people have their own unique obstacles with which to deal.

Families breaking up. Friends falling out. Failing exams. Not being in the ‘cool’ crowd. Social media pressures. Body image worries. Discovering your sexuality. It all adds up.

Jordan has some spoken word advice for dealing with the stresses in your life:

Denise Hatton, YMCA England & Wales Chief Executive, explained the unique stresses and pressures students experience every single day when they go to school.

Hatton told UNILAD:

The academic system places enormous emphasis on exams and it is no surprise that young people feel stressed during this season.

When YMCA spoke to young people last summer they said their top concern about returning to school was exams, despite not facing the majority of exams for another nine months.

We Need To Change The Way We Deal With Stress And Loneliness EpidemicWe Need To Change The Way We Deal With Stress And Loneliness EpidemicPexels

She believes the education system should ‘encourage and develop young people’ rather than place ‘undue stress’ on young minds.

Hatton concluded:

However, the reality is young people continue to find exams overwhelming, both because of the pressures they place on themselves and the reinforced messages from parents, carers, teachers and businesses that if they fail them, they will never get a job, a career or have a future.

The education system needs to adapt to take these pressures into account. To allow young people to thrive but in a way that supports their health. There are many other successful ways that pupil progress can be measured.

We Need To Change The Way We Deal With StressWe Need To Change The Way We Deal With StressPexels

Indeed, societal systems continue to let young people suffering poor mental health down at almost every turn.

Did you know half of the nation’s mental health problems are established before the sufferer turns 14, and 75 percent by the age of 24?

Yet three quarters of those young people who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.

In fact, on average, a young person waits a decade from the moment they suffer their first symptom of poor mental health to get any kind of treatment.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (R) and Britain's Health Secretary Jeremy HuntBritain's Prime Minister Theresa May (R) and Britain's Health Secretary Jeremy HuntGetty

The Prime Minister Theresa May – and her Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt MP – promised they would ‘transform’ governmental attitudes and strategy in a multi-year path to combat the adverse effects of mental health nationwide.

But on May 9, 2018 two committees of MPs published a report saying their plans will take too long to come into effect and will ‘fail a generation’ through complacency and inadequacy.

housand of people marched in London in a protest called housand of people marched in London in a protest called "NHS in crisis - fix it now" to call for government action to demand the end of NHS crisis and cuts to mental health services.Getty

Smoke and mirrors schemes – such as giving a mere £200,000 to schools to introduce mental health first aid – are only tackling the surface of the issue.

They say mental health funding is at record levels. But, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, mental health trusts have less money to spend on patient care than they did five years ago.

Time is running out.

Our campaign branding for Mental Health Awareness Week: It's Time For ActionOur campaign branding for Mental Health Awareness Week: It's Time For ActionUNILAD

Talking is often the first step to moving forward. While talking about mental health is vital, UNILAD are calling for action this Mental Health Awareness Week.

We are petitioning the government to improve mental health services offered on the NHS for young people, who sometimes have to wait ten years from the moment they experience their first symptoms to get adequate treatment.

We have written to Jeremy Hunt MP to tell him about our petition and demand the government take action. You can help by signing our petition, in partnership with WHOLE, here. To find out more about our campaign you can read our manifesto.

You can speak to someone confidentially about your mental health and wellbeing by calling one of the following numbers: Samaritans – 116 123
, Childline – 0800 1111 (UK) / 1800 66 66 66 (ROI), 
Teenline – 1800 833 634 (ROI).

Francesca Donovan

A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you've never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.

Topics: Featured