A brave act to speak out
The statistics show that one in four people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year.
And anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain.
About ten per cent of children have a mental health problem at any one time.
In addition, depression affects one in five older people.
Sobering figures that may come as a surprise for some. The reason is that mental health issues stay, chiefly, in the dark.
Because they are unseen, people are sometimes unaware that even close friends or family are suffering. If they don't notice a change in a loved one, they have to rely on the loved one telling them that they are suffering.
And for some, it is too difficult to speak out.
That is why our local MP Michelle Gildernew must be roundly congratulated for taking the tough step of speaking out about mental illness.
By its very nature, experiencing depression makes the sufferer want to hide away from the world. The last thing the person suffering from depression wants to do is to speak out about it.
Ms Gildernew has been incredibly brave to talk so openly about her experiences and in doing so has helped chip away at the stigma that makes people shy away from talking about what is a very, very common illness.
As the statistics show, depression is everywhere. It affects people of all ages and all backgrounds.
And for those who have not experienced it, it is difficult to comprehend how it profoundly affects those who suffer or have suffered from it.
That is why our MP has done us all a favour. She has shone a light on how depression can have such a harsh effect on people's lives. Her honesty is commendable and she has put concerns of personal cost to one side for the greater good.
It could not have been easy for her to talk about, not least knowing that her most private and personal information was to be used as part of a newspaper interview.
But in doing so she has contributed to educating others about depression and perhaps given comfort to others who find themselves feeling in the depth of despair.
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter 15 Nov 12