Blog A minute can last a lifetime.

A minute can last a lifetime.

A written piece on Mental Health Minute.

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On Thursday 18th November 2012 at 11:57pm, I got off the tube near home and looked at my phone. I had more than 20 missed calls. ‘Wow, I’m really popular I thought.’ (I’d had a few ales).

It then dawned on me that no one’s really that popular at almost midnight on a Thursday. And then I realised by who’d called me - including both my parents, my ex-girlfriend and all of my closest friends - something had happened. No one was about to give birth. It wasn’t National Burger Week. Kendrick wasn’t dropping a new album. So it had to be Something Bad.

It was.

It was Alan.

My second-oldest friend. My housemate for years. The Robin to my Batman (although he’d try to tell you it was the other way around).

He’d hung himself.

Just like that.

Completely out of the blue.

One day we were talking about the football team and who was playing at the Warehouse Project we were going up to.

The next, he was just gone.

I’ve often tried to remember my immediate reaction, and it wasn’t anything particularly emotional or profound; it was too early for that. My first thought actually was: “How could he do it? He’d only just started watching Breaking Bad...”

Funny how the mind tries to process things that are too big to process.

This is all a long-winded way of saying that the Heads Together campaign this week has never been more timely.

Anything to draw attention to the fact that last year in the UK alone there were more than 6000 suicides is to be applauded. Because, trust me, the escalation from anxiety, depression, isolation and despair into more stark action is rapid and unrelenting.

On Tuesday May 15th, more than 300 radio stations around the country joined together for the Mental Health Minute, to raise awareness of the disruptive impact mental health issues can have on sufferers’ daily lives. National radio, regional radio, community radio and even prison radio all paused for one minute.

Sometimes silence can be deafening.

Prince Harry, Prince William, Judi Dench, Lady Gaga and Jess Ennis-Hill - among others - fronted the campaign, lending their names to the likes of Professor Green and Anthony Joshua who have already spoken passionately about protecting the head as much as the body.

This is yet another step forward for the de-stigmatisation of mental health in this country.

Progress that is hopefully starting to chip away at the thousands of men and women who take their lives every year, without pomp or ceremony or press coverage.

Progress that is making it easier for everyone to more honestly answer the simple question ‘are you ok?’

Progress that will hopefully stop more Alans thinking that there’s only one way out.

Gavin Finney,

Senior Creative


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