ALASTAIR Campbell was in frank mood as he visited the region to share his experiences of mental illness.

Tony Blair’s former communications director was invited to St David’s High School, Saltney, for the launch of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Youth Mental Health First Aid (Wales) course.

Since revealing he suffered from mental illness in his late 20s, Mr Campbell has campaigned to break down the stigma surrounding such health problems.

He met health and social care course students from Flintshire to speak about his experiences.

Mr Campbell said: “We need to break down the taboo and allow people to discuss their problems more openly.

“I think for young people in particular it is sometimes difficult to admit to a problem.”

It is estimated as many as 40 per cent of young people in Wales may have a recognisable risk factor for mental health problems – with between 30 and 40 per cent going on to experience difficulties.

The Assembly Government-led scheme is delivered by Mind Cymru, with the launch hosted by Flintshire Mind.

Originally developed in Australia, the course promotes positive attitudes to mental health and covers the first signs and symptoms of mental distress, including depression, eating disorders and self-harm.

Mr Campbell added: “The Youth Mental Health First Aid course is an excellent way to advise people to spot the first signs of mental distress in those that they’re close to so they can offer help and support at the very early stages.”

Jenny Murphy, chief officer of Flintshire Mind, praised Mr Campbell’s involvement in the event.

She said: “Alastair Campbell was excellent. He took part in a workshop with Flintshire pupils studying health and social care courses and contributed openly to the discussions.”

Students from St David’s High School and Mold Alun met Mr Campbell at the launch.

The first course in Flintshire, which is intended for adults who care or work with young people, takes place on November 15 and 16 in Connah’s Quay.

For details call Andrea Hurst on 01352 744050 or go to