A JOHNSTONE man has opened up about his battle with mental health problems in a bid to encourage people to talk if they are suffering.

Nigel Honey, 41, lifted the lid on his 20-year struggle with depression and the “stigma” often associated with it in the hope of promoting positive attitudes towards mental health.

The nation marked World Mental Health Day yesterday and See Me, the Scottish programme to end mental health discrimination, has called on communities, workplaces, schools and care providers in Renfrewshire to lead the way in showing it is something that should be talked about.

Mr Honey said: ““I was first told I might be bipolar when I was 19. When I was younger, I couldn’t talk to people, I would lock myself away in my room. I used to be scared people would judge me.

“I experienced stigma from so-called friends. There has been stigmatising language like ‘nutter’ used to talk about me.

“People don’t understand it, they aren’t educated about mental health. For the future, for the next generation, we need to portray the good stories around mental health and not make it so negative all the time.

“With depression, you have to talk about it. I don’t care if people judge me now.”

See Me is also calling for people to join them in a movement to help end stigma which could involve taking action., ranging from directly challenging someone they see discriminating to supporting someone who is struggling.

Calum Irving, See Me director, said: “We all have mental health and it impacts on every aspect of our lives, including where we live, learn, work and receive care, but when we struggle with our mental health we often face stigma and discrimination.“However”We each have the power to make a positive difference in the lives of our families, friends and colleagues when they are affected by mental health problems.

“We want people to join a social movement to end mental health stigma by taking action and pledging your support.”

Maureen Watt, the Scottish Government minister for mental health, said: “See Me has been vital in efforts over the last several years to promote improved attitudes to mental health and mental illness and, as we have said in our Mental Health Strategy, we will ensure its work continues and develops.”