Google ‘mental health’ statistics, and you’re inundated with figures and graphs.
In 2013, there were an estimated 43.8 million adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. with any mental illness in the past year. This represented 18.5 percent of all U.S. adults. 
In 2013, an estimated 15.7 million adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This represented 6.7 percent of all U.S. adults. 
1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. 
According to the recently released World Health Organization (WHO) report: Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative, over 800,000 people die by suicide across the world each year. 
Talking in thousands and millions, it’s hard to get lost in numbers. But when you think about it like this, it’s likely at least one person in your life has a mental illness, it’s pretty worrying.
It could be your mum, your brother, your wife, your colleague. It could be YOU. Mental illnesses don’t discriminate, and anyone can be affected.
And yet, so many of us feel alone. Which is funny, because so many of the writing/ blogging/ reading/ creative community identify as having some sort of mental health issue. It's almost as if people with mental health issues are drawn to creative pursuits. Maybe as an escape, maybe as a way of coping. But even though it's common, and there's a community of people with similar issues and experiences, mental health is still so greatly misunderstood and stigmatised.
If you tell someone you have diabetes, they offer sympathy, and talk to you about how you're treating the condition. Where as if you mention depression, you can often be met with the misconception that you're just feeling a bit sad, when the reality goes much deeper than that.
I’ve (Clare) struggled with depression since my teens, and found reading to be a great escape.
Reading (and re-reading) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire got me through an especially bad period in the summer of 2002.
It was through Harry Potter that I reignited my love of reading (something I still fall back on to escape into when times are rough), discovered the online community (that led me to making many friends; which gave me people to talk to about my feelings, and also helped me discover I wasn’t alone with my issues), and developed my love of writing (which also offers me an escape, and led to a career that I love, and is perfect for someone who still has regular bouts of depression where they can barely get out of bed.)
I’ve experienced the (sometimes) mental-health-driven obsessive writing, where everything else fades away, and the soul-crushing inability to do anything, especially write.
Through reading and writing, I’ve also found kindred souls, and people who know what it’s like to feel isolated, alone and hopeless. Talking with others has helped me realise it isn’t just me, and I’ve discovered new ways of coping with my depression.
This is what we want to discuss in next week's podcast. Things to consider are: How sometimes writing/ reading can help because it's an escape. How mental illness can affect your creativity - cause writer's block etc. and how sometimes if you're writing emotional scenes, it affects your mood.
If you have any experiences or insights you'd like to share, we encourage you to comment on this entry, or on our Facebook post, or Twitter post. If you'd prefer to remain anonymous, you're welcome to contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're happy to read out your comments, without mentioning your name etc.
Finally, we want you to know, you're not alone. Your loved, and valued. And if you're struggling with a mental health condition, please reach out to someone. <3 <3 <3 <3