It's great to use my radio show to talk about 'taboo' subjects like mental health issues and this project gave us the chance to talk at length for an hour each morning. We were inundated with phone calls and emails from listeners who either wanted to tell their stories or who wanted to tell us about traffic jams but got drawn into the conversation. It showed how many families, like mine, have been affected and it showed how many people have never asked for help.
I will always remember the meal I shared with Susan and Jenny, who live at Prospect Park Hospital in Reading. I've never seen two people so cross about being made to eat baked potatoes so often. I found they were defined not by their illness but by the daily practicalities of life, just like the rest of us. They were concerned with things like looking after finances, living independently and finding work, which is very hard if your address is Prospect Park Hospital.
Breakfast Show, BBC Radio Berkshire
I'd like to thank you for focusing on mental health stories in this project, because they get so little focus. And I love the fact that it has been focused on with humour and a certain degree of joy, because generally it isn't. I'm a Mental Health Nurse by background, and I've been doing this for years, and there's one thing I wish people would understand. You do get better. For most people, there will be periods when you are able to function and be really quite well. I think what is good about the radio week and hearing these stories is that they are so hopeful.
There is a huge history of fear and of not talking about mental health. If you look over the centuries at how people with mental health issues have been dealt with - some would argue witches burnt at the stake were people displaying mental health problems - we have been absolutely terrified of people who seem so different. And maybe it's not surprising that that legacy sits around in people's minds. It was only in 2003 that we closed Fairmile Hospital up in South Oxfordshire. It was only recently that we moved people from being in dormitories with a foot and a half between beds in a ghastly Victorian building into Prospect Park, which has ensuite bathrooms and so on, where there is a lot more dignity.
I hope this project will encourage people to open their minds and recognise that everybody has something to contribute, and everybody is valuable.
Chief Executive, Berkshire Mental Health Trust