Gail Porter, the television presenter, yesterday spoke of her misplaced "embarrassment" at dealing with depression at the launch of a new arts festival in Glasgow which hopes to encourage debate and understanding of mental health issues.

Ms Porter, originally from Edinburgh, who lost her hair through alopecia two years ago, was in Glasgow yesterday to lend her support to the first Mental Health Arts and Film Festival in the city.

The festival runs from today to October 19 in Glasgow with a programme featuring more than 40 events, encompassing film, theatre, documentary screenings, comedy and music.

Ms Porter, 36, has spoken in the past of her struggles with manic depression, her history of self-harm, and an attempted suicidal overdose in 2005. She revealed the details of her mental anguish and self-harm in her recent autobiography, Laid Bare.

Yesterday, she said that when she first noticed the signs of depression, she went to a doctor who merely told her to "chill out".

It took six years of hesitating to see a doctor, and then six visits to doctors before she received the proper advice and treatment for her illness, she said.

Ms Porter said that there was still a stigma attached to mental ill health that the new arts festival could help explore and address.

She said: "I am delighted to be here, I think this festival is a fantastic idea. I have suffered from manic depression since my mid-teens and I think I was one of the those people who was completely embarrassed about having the condition.

"I thought: I am working, I am earning okay, what do I have to be depressed about?

"So I did the very Scottish thing, and hid it under the carpet. Looking back, if I didn't have my job, I don't know what would have happened.

"You have this great dark cloud over you all the time, and having a job meant I just had to get up. Some days I still find it hard to get out of bed.

"But I am still on medication and I am not embarrassed to admit it. I still get some very bad days."

She added: "Someone once said to me: why don't you just go to the Priory clinic? I said its £5000 a week! You must be joking. Just because of the job I have doesn't mean I can afford that."

Ms Porter was accompanied by her four-year-old daughter Honey, whose father is the former Toploader guitarist Dan Hipgrave, a presence the television star said had helped her greatly in her struggle with depression.

The main themes of the festival are the history of mental health - including an evaluation of the life and work of Scottish psychiatrist RD Laing - discrimination and stigma, and the relationship between creativity and mental health.

Films in the festival include Scottish films Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself and My Name is Joe, Donnie Darko, in its full director's cut version, Oscar-winning movie The Hours, and Control, a film about Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division, who took his life at the age of 23.

The festival features a music thread including performances by local bands, Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub, Billy Boyd and the BMX Bandits.

Duglas Stewart of the BMX Bandits said: "We are proud to be part of this festival because the objective isn't getting people's money from them but rather about addressing ignorance and stigma and trying to give people a greater understanding.

"So many of the true musical greats, from Brian Wilson to Tchaikovsky, have experienced mental health problems throughout their lives and their unique artistry is directly related to such issues."