CUH welcomes ‘Horace’ the Black Dog to support mental health campaign

25 August 2015
Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) has welcomed Horace the Black Dog to the campus, a symbol of national mental health charity SANE’s campaign to raise awareness of mental health.

‘Horace’ will initially sit outside the main reception of Addenbrooke’s and his presence demonstrates CUH’s support for SANE’s campaign to raise awareness of mental health, break down stigma, and encourage people to talk more openly about depression and other mental illness.

Dr Keith McNeil, CUH chief executive, said: “We are very supportive of the fantastic work that SANE does and we are delighted to welcome Horace to the campus to help us promote mental health awareness on the campus, in partnership with the clinical school and the MRC. This initiative is part of our ongoing commitment to staff health and wellbeing. Horace will be touring the campus so keep your eyes open to spot him.”

The Trust signed the Time to Change campaign organisational pledge against mental health stigma and discrimination in 2011 and has since then regularly organised an annual mental health week of activities to promote understanding for staff and patients.

Horace will stay on the campus until World Mental Health Day on 10 October to encourage staff not to suffer in silence but seek sources of support.

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of SANE, said: “I am thrilled that Cambridge University Hospitals has joined us in our campaign to end mental health discrimination.

“Most of us have experienced ‘Black Dog days’ or felt the Black Dog on our shoulder and find it difficult to talk about our feelings. We hope people will find a new language to express difficult inner feelings like anxiety, depression and loneliness. The shadow of the Black Dog touches us all, but it is possible to master and live with your mental illness so that it no longer dominates your life.”

The Black Dog has been used as a metaphor for depression from classical mythology through to medieval folklore and contemporary times, with well-known figures such as Sir Winston Churchill using the phrase to describe his darker moods. As many as one in five people will suffer from depression during their lifetime, and World Health Organisation predicts that it will be the world’s leading cause of disability by 2030.