HEREFORDSHIRE TV gardener Monty Don has said there is still too much ignorance surrounding mental health, something which he has faced a personal battle with.

The gardener, who appears on BBC’s Gardeners’ World from Longmeadow in the county, has faced his own struggles with mental illness and has spoken candidly before about his battle with depression over the years.

He has written the foreword for a new book Further Beyond Words, which showcases original poetry and short stories by Herefordshire men who use creative writing to help them deal with anxiety, depression or other mental health issues.

Many of the 20 poems and stories delve into darker urges and emotions, while others express hope, positivity and a sense of recovery.

All the artwork in the book is by students at Hereford College of Arts.

Monty Don writes in his foreword: “There is still far too much ignorance, shame and fear surrounding mental illness.

"It is especially important that publications like this, as well as being a celebration of the creativity that can emerge from troubled minds and troubled times, can help confront these attitudes.

"Art, of all kinds, can put our own minds right and can change others’ minds."

The book is a result of a collaboration between two prominent Hereford-based mental health champions and FurtherBeyond, a local creative writing project.

The two main driving forces, Euan McPherson, chief executive of Hereford Services for Independent Living (who also supports Hereford Men’s Mental Health group), and Paul Stevens, Mayor of Hereford, have experienced mental ill health themselves – and both have contributed poems.

Mr McPherson said: “Our hope is that Further Beyond Words will help raise awareness of men’s mental health issues and inspire others to try creative or personal writing.”

Coun Stevens said: “When we started seeing all the great writing by members of the group and others, Euan and I felt it would be timely to help the men share their work and hopefully, in turn, encourage others.

"We’re delighted that HCA students were inspired to provide such fantastic illustrations.”

Funding was provided by Herefordshire Community Foundation and Great Places.

The book will be available for purchase from the Services for Independent Living website with all proceeds going to support Hereford Men’s Mental Health group – Further details to follow.