It is a failure of society that people do not feel able to talk about mental health issues, Love Island star and newly appointed government adviser Dr Alex George has said.
The A&E doctor, who appeared on the ITV reality programme in 2018, has been appointed as a youth mental health ambassador.
Dr George has been campaigning for better support following the death of his younger brother, Llyr, last year.
The 19-year-old, who was due to attend medical school, took his own life in July after suffering mental health issues.
Dr George told Prime Minister Boris Johnson he wants people to be more aware of their mental health and how to protect it.
“When things go wrong – as they do in life, we can’t put cotton wool around people, we can’t prevent bad things happening in the world – but if we can give people that toolkit so that when things go wrong they know how to look after themselves, they know who to go to,” Dr George said.
“I lost my brother in the summer, he was 19, about to go to medical school and we were incredibly proud of him as a family, and sadly he took his own life, and I think the pressures of this pandemic played a big part.”
Mr Johnson said: “I can only imagine what it must be like to lose a younger brother like that.
“It’s fantastic that you want to use all your experience and and all that you’ve been through to help other people and maybe to reach out to people who find themselves feeling that sense of whatever it is that drives people to despair.”
Dr George, seen talking with the Prime Minister at No 10 in a video released by Downing Street, said he wants to break the “stigma” about mental health.
“I want to live in a world where people feel like they can speak about their mental health, the same way as their physical health,” he said.
As an A&E medic, Dr George said he often sees people struggling with their mental health, who only talk about it for the first time after ending up in hospital.
“I think that’s really sad, it’s almost a failure, in some ways, of society that that person couldn’t speak to a loved one or a friend or a GP before they ended up in that position.”
Downing Street said Dr George will use his clinical expertise and personal experience to help shape policy on improving support for young people in schools, college and universities.
In January, Dr George said his “number one goal” for 2021 was to “help bring meaningful change to mental health education at schools across the UK”.
He urged his Instagram followers to help him meet the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet to make it happen.
Dr George will start the unpaid role immediately, working within the Department for Education.