HALTON has the highest rate of depression in the north west.

Mental health problems are the single largest cause of health and disability, say health chiefs.

A new campaign, Halton Like Minds, hopes to challenge the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health.

Ten Halton residents have plucked up courage to talk about their psychiatric problems.

Sophie, aged 16, from Halton Brook, who used to self-harm, said: “After I had cut myself I felt in control and that all my problems disappeared once I saw the blood.

“I always wore wrist bands. A youth worker asked me if I was OK and I broke into tears. I was scared that people would judge me and call me names.”

Soldier Rob, aged 45, who suffers from post-traumatic stress, said: “I was fighting in Kosovo and saw the opening of mass graves. It started flashbacks, anxiety and depression.

“I lost my job, was drinking and then had a stroke.”

Anne, aged 78, from Ditton, used to feel lonely. She said: “I lost my husband and it devastated me. I was crying every day. I started to become really down.”

Carer Bob, aged 65, from Norton, suffered from depression after his mother-in-law developed dementia. He said: “I had no work structure, dropped contact with friends and my own personal skills were disappearing.”

Their lives have now been transformed after seeking professional help.

Halton Clr Marie Wright, board member for health and wellbeing, said: “They all illustrate how talking to someone you trust about how you are feeling could be the first step on the road to recovery.”

It is hoped their frankness will encourage others to open up to a friend, relative or professional.

Visit haltonlikeminds.co.uk to read each story and find out where to seek help locally.

The Like Minds campaign has been developed by Halton Health Improvement Team and Halton Council and has been funded by the NHS Halton Clinical Commissioning Group.