Burnley teenager Emily Oldfield has enlisted the support of Alistair Campbell as she looks to raise awareness of mental health issues in the young in the North-West.
Emily (19) wrote to Mr Campbell, who is Ambassador of mental health charity Time to Change, to ask him to support her as she looks to target areas such as Burnley Football Club in a bid to help people understand mental health issues better.
And, with Time to Change’s Time to Talk Day on Thursday, she is hoping to raise awareness of an illness which has affected her and also affected Burnley fan Mr Campbell.
“There is so much pressure put on young people today as they feel they have got to go a certain way, get a job, go to university and do well,” said Emily who lives with her mum, brother and sister near Turf Moor.
“I have suffered with mental health issues a long time, I have also battled with an eating disorder and I have always looked at the worse case scenario quite quickly.
“Over time, I became someone I couldn’t identify with and, until recently, I was at St Andrew’s University in Scotland studying history and English literature.
“I had help with counselling there, and Scotland do carry out a lot of work in raising awareness of mental health issues, but the university could only do so much and I returned home.
“I felt ashamed and felt I had let my family down by taking time out of studying but my family understand my issues and are really supportive.
“I wondered what it would be like for someone without this support in the North- West. I have returned to Burnley and was going to go back to university but it has taken me five weeks for a referral to see anyone above GP level.”
Emily, who also says writing poems and blogs about her thoughts and feelings has helped her, decided to get in touch with Mr Campbell.
“I obviously knew of Alistair Campbell, I know he is a massive Burnley fan and I was inspired by some of his novels and blogs about mental health illness.
“I got in touch with him and he has been helpful. Burnley Football Club is such a big part of the town, they get people from all walks of life supporting the club and it would be a good way to highlight mental issues and raise awareness.
“We are in the process of ordering promotional leaflets and I’m hoping to distribute them at matches and maybe carry out a day with the football club.
“Having Mr Campbell’s support has really encouraged me, I felt my life had fallen to pieces when I returned from university and wasn’t following the ‘conventional’ path.
“But Alistair Campbell was in a massive position of responsibility and has faced his own issues and offering to support me has given me a big lift.”
Mr Campbell said: “I was really touched by Emily’s letter. Not only was it beautifully written and from deep personal experience but I particularly appreciated her desire to do something about all this not just for herself but for others.”
For more information about the Time to Change’s Time to Talk Day go to www.time-to-change.org.uk/timetotalkday.