If It's Okay Campaign

The ‘If It’s Okay’ campaign aims to tackle the negative impact that shame has on those living with a mental illness.

Have you seen our latest #IfItsOkay campaign? We’d love to hear what you think of it.

Fill in a short survey here: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/OKJ1A6/

What is the If It’s Okay campaign? 

Shame often leads individuals to conceal their mental illness, hampering their access to necessary support and causing feelings of isolation. To address this, the anti-stigma alliance has launched the ‘If It’s Okay…’ campaign across the UK, including Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and England.

Despite the popularity of the phrase “It’s okay not to be okay" in mental health support, many individuals with mental illness still struggle to believe it. 

Research conducted nationwide revealed that: 

Over half (58%) of the population of Wales believes that there is still a great deal of shame associated with mental health conditions 


People around Wales (57%) say they still feel shamed for living with a mental illness, regardless of the progress over the years to break down the stigma around mental health.  


62% of people in Wales believe that there is a great deal/fair amount of shame associated with Schizophrenia.


9% of adults in Wales believe that individuals living with mental illness should be ashamed of those conditions. 


Those grappling with complex, long-term mental health issues may face judgment, dismissal, isolation, and discrimination when attempting to share their experiences. Instead of feeling supported, they're burdened with shame.

Through this campaign, we aim to amplify the voices of those who feel unable to openly discuss their struggles due to lingering stigma and shame. Testimonials from people across the UK are being showcased on posters at over 150 locations nationwide and on social media platforms.

We all have a role to play in dismantling this stigma. If it’s acceptable to acknowledge mental health struggles, why do discriminatory attitudes persist? It’s time for each of us to contribute to change.


What is ‘shame’?

When it comes to mental health issues and disorders, shame includes feelings of guilt, embarrassment, and distress. 

There are two distinct forms of shame: internal and external. Internal shame relates to individuals' perceptions of their own behaviours or characteristics, particularly concerning their mental illness. External shame arises when individuals fear negative reactions if their illness becomes public knowledge.

Shame is connected to self-stigma and is often described as the emotional consequence of the stigma around mental illness. It leads individuals to anticipate encountering stigma, prompting withdrawal from situations where they may feel devalued or unworthy.

Ultimately, shame acts as a significant obstacle in seeking mental health support. 

How we can tackle shame together…

  • Initiate a conversation with someone if you're concerned about their well-being. It can be incredibly challenging for individuals experiencing shame to open up, so why not take the initiative to make it easier? Find helpful tips below here

If you are feeling shame…

  • Share your story of overcoming shame to help others feel less alone. Start a conversation, listen empathetically, and if appropriate, offer your own experience of triumphing over tough times. Your openness can significantly impact others by fostering understanding and support.
  • Prioritise self-care by making time for activities that bring you peace and comfort, whether it’s spending time with loved ones, going for a walk, enjoying a relaxing bath, getting a massage, or any other activity that rejuvenates you. Remember, you deserve this time for yourself. 
  • Get help for your mental health. Visit our Need Help section for urgent support. 

Help promote the campaign and tackle shame for everyone…

  • Show your support by sharing ‘If It's Okay…’ assets on social media. Download them below and use #IfItsOkay and follow us on X (formally Twitter), Facebook and Instagram. 
  • Pay attention to the language used by others and how mental illnesses are depicted in our surroundings. Let's advocate for change and speak up.
  • Snap a picture of one of our adverts and share how you will combat shame. Check out our map of locations for reference.
  • Share your strategies for preventing others from experiencing shame.
  • Share how you practice self-compassion and encourage others to do the same.
  • Listen to our episode on tackling shame on our Room to Talk Podcast here

Personal Stories 


Izzy, Pembrokeshire 

"For 13 years since I was first diagnosed with mental health issues at 14 years old, I hid it out of shame and fear. Mostly guided by media misrepresentation and very low awareness, though, I finally 'came clean' by opening up quite publicly about my struggles and attempts at, suicide in 2016 which completely changed the direction of my life - being given opportunities to use my experiences to help and raise awareness for others filled me with so much purpose. Since then, I have fulfilled many roles of being a listener, advocate, mentor, signposting and support system for so many friends and strangers and as a volunteer for several organisations, yet still, almost weekly, I find myself struggling with shame. 

We work so tirelessly in this battle against stigma and discrimination within mental health, yet the worst stigma I have faced this last few years has easily been towards myself. I am too hard on myself and judge myself too harshly in ways I'd never dream to imagine thinking of others. 

So now that awareness has been rising at an impressive pace for almost ten years and things like mental health awareness day cause an influx of tales being shared far and wide across social media, when will we start to show ourselves the understanding we always grant to others? 

Of all the ways I have been lucky enough to experience purpose by being who I needed to be when I was younger, being kinder to myself is still one aspect I have yet to master."


Natalie, Cardiff 

"There’s no such thing as depression. People just need to get on with things!” 

“You’re the last person I’d expect to suffer mental illness” were comments made to me that led to feelings of shame when I was really struggling with my mental health. As well as other people’s stigma, my own inner critic was my worst enemy: “Everyone else can do it! What’s wrong with you? Get a grip.." and so on and so on.

When my burnout eventually peaked, I turned to the professionals (my GP) for support, but I still felt alone and confused after being prescribed SSRIs without an explanation of what was happening to me or why!

It was a few kind words from a nurse taking an ECG that provided a moment of realisation, “This is your body’s way of telling you to slow down love and look after yourself”. 

To look after your mental health...

  • Observe your thoughts — if I had known that I am not my thoughts and don’t have to believe everything that pops into my head I may not have become so ill.
  • Be aware of physical and emotional changes — don’t ignore any signs. I have learnt to recognise racing thoughts or physical signs (e.g., poor sleep, lack of appetite) as signals to stop and rest or make a change.
  • Talk — to your family, your friends or to anyone you trust! Talking to others honestly about my mental health has strengthened my relationships and made me feel less alone — a problem shared really is a problem halved.

Read more personal stories here


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