THE tragic death of Hollywood legend Robin Williams has left millions in a state of shock as they struggle to apprehend how someone who brought so much laughter could be left battling such demons.
Depression can affect anyone and the Mrs Doubtfire star's death from suspected suicide has firmly brought this into the spotlight. But there is help out there and the Art and Soul Friendship Group, in Uttoxeter, is there to offer support.
A spokesman said: "We are very saddened by the loss of Robin Williams.
"Art and Soul feels it is such a shame it takes a famous person to take his life for this topic to get discussed in the media when there are thousands of wonderful, beautiful people struggling on a daily basis with depression, usually in isolation. The Guardian newspaper reported in 2012 that only 25 per cent of people with mental illness get proper treatment."
One member, Judy, said most of her adult life has been affected by depression and severe anxiety but the charity was a place she has felt loved and accepted.
She said: " Most people have sympathy for physical illness, but quickly lose sympathy for mental health. The 'aren't you better yet' is hurtful and deafening."
She added that peer support at Art and Soul 'is second to none' along with constructive advice on how to make changes to how approaching difficult situations and she even discovered her creative side.
She said: "We really need more projects like this to be around the country to be able to reach more people to help prevent, maintain or manage mental illness."
Art and Soul said it is for some the first port of call for help to access support and direct people to the correct services.
The project has become a safety net to many people while they battle through the long drawn out assessment process, due to severe cuts. Art and Soul and its members feel that mental health should be integrated into health in general, as it is as important as any other condition.
Rachel Silvey, a pupil from Denstone College, found mental illness severely affected teenagers with figures doubling in 15-16 year olds from the 1980s to 2000.
Art and Soul supports people with a variety of mental health diagnoses. It is open from 9am to 3.45pm, Monday to Friday and more information is available at artandsoulfriendshipgroup.com
Those needing support after the suicide of a loved one can find out more from SOB's Survivors of Bereavement at http://uk-sobs.org.uk/