MENTAL health is as important as physical health - that’s the message from this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

The Mental Health Foundation, which runs the campaign, also want people to celebrate those relationships and people who add to their well-being.

Whether that is a parent, friend, guardian or partner - the aim of the week is to encourage people to focus on the quality of their relationships which are seen as just as vital to a healthy lifestyle as eating well, exercising more and stopping smoking.

As part of the awareness week the foundation is currently lobbying national governments, public bodies and employers to promote good relationships and to tackle the mounting pressures on work–life balance and the impact of bullying and unhealthy relationships.

A statement from the Mental Health Foundation said: “Relationships are one of the most important aspects of our lives, yet we can often forget just how crucial our connections with other people are for our physical and mental health and wellbeing.

“It’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship, but it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters.

“Living in conflict or within a toxic relationship is more damaging than being alone.”

Organisations from across Dorset kicked off the campaign yesterday at Bournemouth Station.

Working in partnership with South West Trains dozens of charities and businesses, including Dorset Mind, Bournemouth University and The Big Issue group, set up stalls at the station all day yesterday to promote mental health awareness.

BU lecturer Dr Andrew Mayers, who works with a number of mental health charities in Bournemouth, said the purpose of the event was to give people information about mental health.

“Unfortunately there is still a taboo around mental health issues which means a lot of people out there are afraid to ask for help.

“But one in four of us will have problems with our mental health at some time in our lives and people need to know that it’s ‘okay to say you’re not okay’.”

According to Dr Mayers it’s “unfair” to expect people with mental health problems to be able to “fix” them without any professional help.

“I always compare mental illness to diabetes. Diabetes can’t be cured but by making certain life changes and taking medication people can live with diabetes relatively well,” he added.

To find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week go to


Dorset Mind - Call 01202 551660 or call the charity’s national helpline number on 0300 123 3393

The Samaritans operates a service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for people who want to talk in confidence. Call 08457 90 90 90

SANE - Call 0300 304 7000

Rethink Mental Illness - Call 0300 5000 927