Mental health awareness can learn from the promotion of the Paralympics
Aashish Tagore

It is clear from the Olympic-themed articles in the August 2012 issue of The Psychiatrist that we are all agreed on one thing: sport is good.1 Whether this be in the context of promoting physical activity in the general population as part of an Olympic legacy pledge, or as a means of battling the social exclusion that many people with mental illness experience. We are currently riding on the crest of an Olympic-induced wave. But what has impressed me most is the way in which the Paralympic Games have been promoted. From the ‘Meet the Superhumans’ slogan of the Channel 4 advertising campaign, the message from the outset has been one of personal strength, resilience and determination, and ultimately, triumph through adversity. We have heard stories of athletes who have endured great personal tragedy, but have managed to turn their experience into success. The positive way in which such awe-inspiring individuals have been presented has captured the public’s imagination. This should serve as a beacon of hope to mental health professionals who are determined to challenge the stigma which our service users experience. After all, do they not have equally inspirational stories of human spirit in the face of mental illness and disability? It is our duty to find equally effective ways of presenting their life stories in such a positive light, with the hope that this will help in the battle against mental health stigma.