‘IT’S okay to not be okay’ — that’s the message from Isle of Wight professionals on World Mental Health Day.

One in four Islanders will experience a mental health problem this year but financial cuts are putting a greater strain on services.

Ryde councillor, Michael Lilley — who put forward a motion earlier this year, calling for the Isle of Wight Council to state an annual commitment to services on the Island — said: “We know that services need improving. We need to get on and do it.

“It’s like standing at the bus stop, but not getting on the bus.”

Four professionals, who work in front-line services, spoke about their experiences within the mental health sector. They said although the Isle of Wight is improving overall, there is still a long way to go.

Anna Murray, who runs the LGBT domestic abuse and hate crime project for Age UK, said: “It’s okay to ask for help.”

Anna, whose role is funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner, works with support groups on the Island, most recently working with members of the transgender community. She works with people from seven up to 70.

Anna said: “Most of the time they are less visible them other members of the LGBT community. They just want to transition and get on with their lives.”

Anna said the ‘stigma and shame’ associated with mental illness was one of the biggest issues that needs tackling.

Laura works as a volunteer with Mermaids, a national charity that works with gender non-conforming young people and their families.

She said: “In 2017, more than 60 per cent of transgender people reported bullying. One in nine received death threats and 45 per cent attempted suicide.

“These statistics need to change.”

Katie Jubb works in perinatal mental health, which means working with pregnant mothers immediately before and after birth.

She said: “We don’t realise by babies can pick up on things before they are born. If a child is hearing domestic violence, that will impact on them in later life.”

Katie works with restoring the confidence of young mothers, through workshops at the Women’s Centre in Newport.

Maria Villa Vine, who works with the Save Our Schools campaign, added: “It’s about having those conversations and being open. It can impact on your life in so many ways. We need to talk about mental health.”