Northumberland campaigner challenges portrayal of mental-health issues

Danny Bowman at one of the regional workshops.
Danny Bowman at one of the regional workshops.

An Alnwick campaigner has challenged the media to reflect complex mental-health issues more honestly in reporting and script-writing during a national debate.

Danny Bowman was one of six expert panellists at The Feel Happy Fix Live 2015, a mental-health conference hosted by young people’s social-action charity Fixers, and supported by healthcare provider Simplyhealth.

The 20-year-old, who has a history of body dysmorphia which led him to become obsessed with the way he looked, told the audience – which included Shadow Minister for Public Health Luciana Berger – that the UK needs ‘a more robust code on regulations’.

He said: “The media looks too negatively at mental health. I want to see an end to storylines which stop people with mental-health issues reaching out for help because they are scared of the stigma.”

Danny has travelled the world raising awareness about mental-health conditions, since becoming ill as a teenager trying to create the perfect selfie.

“I think it’s wonderful that young people can get together as a collective and tackle the issue of mental health,” he said of the London conference on mental health. “It’s an incredibly hard thing to talk about, so creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable enough to open up is amazing.”

Danny Bownman, second right, and the other panellists.

Danny Bownman, second right, and the other panellists.

The Feel Happy Fix Live 2015 saw 100 young people share their personal experiences of mental-health issues followed by the debate at ITV studios, chaired by TV presenter and mental-health ambassador Anna Williamson.

Based on the findings of 16 regional workshops held throughout February, the 16 to 25-year-olds were invited to discuss the key concerns relating to young people and mental health, before offering practical solutions to make change for the better. Danny was joined by five other panellists who each discussed a key area – mental health at work; at home; in employment; at play; in healthcare.

Fixers CEO Margo Horsley said: “Young people across the UK are facing an epidemic of unhappiness. One in ten UK schoolchildren has a diagnosable mental-health disorder and estimates suggest 20 per cent have a mental-health problem in any given year. With the worrying trend predicted to rise, this issue is something that society has to address and we believe young people sharing their experiences will create a unique and important contribution.”