Tunbridge Wells is a successful and prosperous town, with an inspiring past and a bright future.
But the outer seeming of our town, currently twinkling with festive lights, disguises the number of people – adults and children – who suffer from mental health issues.
It is the forgotten illness, the condition to which there is still stigma attached, which affects the lives of about a quarter of the UK population.
The Times of Tunbridge Wells wants your help to combat this condition.
Please support our 2015 Christmas charity appeal, in aid of three local mental health charities.
Together, Crossways Community, Fegans and Tunbridge Wells Mental Health Resource make a difference to hundreds of people, every year.
Chris Munday of Crossways said: “A few months into my time in Tunbridge Wells, I have realised that there is another side to this lovely place. For there is a price to everything. And I am concerned that the price for this success is, in some cases, poor mental health.
“We cannot allow this to continue. We and our children deserve better. Because this is not a tale of unremitting gloom. There is help right here in Tunbridge Wells for those who struggle with poor mental health.”
As Alison Skulczuk of TWMHR added: “This appeal will make a big difference to a lot of local people. Some of the services we offer can save lives.”
How readers can rid society of ‘forgotten illness’ stigma
Many regard it as the ‘forgotten illness’ and yet one in four people will suffer from it over the course of their lifetime.
We are talking about mental illness, something that can hit any of us at any time, causing financial hardship, social isolation and even the loss of job, home and family.
Sadly, it’s an illness that, in the eyes of the misinformed, carries a social stigma. And nowhere is that ‘stigma’ more alive and well than in this town.
Tunbridge Wells is an affluent, go-getting place where those who deal with mental health and all its issues tell us nothing is allowed to get in the way of people achieving their goals and that includes mental illness.
This means some people refuse to recognise that mental illness is a fact of life and that those who suffer from the condition need help.
That’s why the Times has chosen three local mental health charities as the subject of our first Christmas appeal.
We want to raise the profile of their work in west Kent and at the same time raise much-needed funds that will help them educate young people about mental health issues and provide practical help for those who are dealing with them.
Over the coming weeks we will be featuring the three charities – Tunbridge Wells Mental Health Resource, Crossways Community and Fegans – and inviting you to make donations.
We invited the Crossways chief executive Chris Munday, who has been in the job six months, to give us some background to what’s happening on the ground in Tunbridge Wells. Before joining this local mental health organisation he was a partner in a law firm in the City of London where, among other things, he ran the firm’s award-winning social responsibility programme. He is a governor of the largest infant school in the south-east and the trustee of a nursery school.
All donations to the Christmas appeal will automatically be split between the Times’ three chosen charities.