By Sophie Burgess
Leeds has celebrated this years World Mental Health Day 2015 with a major event at Leeds Civic Hall, where dozens of health and care organisations were brought together to promote awareness of and involvement in mental health and well-being.
World Mental Health Day Leeds is here – come to the Civic Hall & join us for a day of celebrating ‘dignity in mental health’ #WMHD15Leeds
— Better Lives Leeds (@BetterLivesLDS) October 15, 2015
The organisations participating, including Volition, Adult Social Care, Leeds & York Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust and many others, were equipped with stalls to promote their work in health care and raise awareness of mental health, as well as to provide information about the services they offer.
The busy stalls and bustling noise suggested the day was an important one for many. Arts and crafts, entertainment and refreshments were available for all visitors to enjoy, while stalls offered sweets and endless supplies of leaflets and information relative to the cause.
Every seven years, a survey is taken in the UK to measure the number of people who have different types of mental health problems each year. The most recent survey from 2009 shows that 9.7% of people suffered from mixed anxiety and depression, and 17% of people had experienced suicidal thoughts in their lifetime.
Each year, World Mental Health Day has a different theme and this time, it’s dignity. The event hopes to raise awareness of what can be done to ensure that people with mental health problems can live with dignity.
The Lord Mayor, Councillor Judith Chapman, and Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Executive Board Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults, opened the event, speaking about mental health and the importance of being aware of mental health and pro-active in helping lessen the stigma that surrounds it.
Lord Mayor, Councillor Judith Chapman spoke about the wide range organisations that offer help for mental health issues.
She said, “Some organisations are challenging discrimination, or training people to support others, and others keep you informed or guide you through the wealth of information about mental health and well-being, whether that is online or on the shelves of your local library.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin continued, and spoke about the theme of the day’s event, dignity, and said that being valued and respected is a key part of human relationships and is vital to our well-being.
She said that “despite changes to service models and the terminology used over the years, the motivation behind mental health services and the people who work in it remain the same; the wish for people to have a decent quality of life, friendship and community and choice and control over their own lives.”
Sarah Moore, Coordinator at Mindful Employer, runs the Mindful Employer network in Leeds and is also part of Leeds Mind who she was helping to represent today. She told me that “Mindful Employer is a network trying to help organisations and businesses be more positive towards mental health in the workplace. So either supporting staff they already have with mental health needs or difficulties or just supporting staff generally so they don’t become unwell. Then at recruitment stage it’s about not discriminating against anyone who would disclose mental health difficulties.” (Continued in the audio clip below.)
Carers Leeds were represented by Elaine Wilkes, Mental Health Carers Leader, who spoke about her organisation which you can hear in the audio clip below.
Terry Koivunen, Volunteer Coordinator at Leeds told me he was hoping to attract some volunteers for Leeds Irish Help and Homes. The organisation offers services such as a mental health housing support service and an Irish community support service, which works to ensure that people get support, advice and information to help them overcome the difficulties they face and for those who may have come to find themselves isolated.
Steve Race, Manager of IAPT Counselling at Leeds Counselling, told me about the event and about Leeds Counselling, a charity that offers various support in the community for mental health.
“It’s world mental health day today so the idea of this event is for local organisations to come together to publicise the importance of mental health and to promote their services and, I guess, to generally get people thinking that mental health is an important part of our life, we should look after our mental health as we do our physical health and there’s no stigma attached to that.
“I work for Leeds Counselling, Leeds Counselling is a charity, and we offer a number of services. We are part of a consortium that offers IAPT counselling throughout Leeds so we offer CBT and counselling for depression. We also have a schools counselling service and we offer support in the community for parents that have children under the age of five, and they can get supportive counselling as well. Aside from that we also offer private counselling and group therapy so its a very kind of therapeutic organisation.
“I think having a day like this, it does break down barriers, it does get people thinking about it, it makes it more accessible, it takes away some of the stigma and the prejudice that sometimes people have about mental health, that it really is an important part of our every day life and you don’t need to access these services just because your struggling, it can be a part of a healthy way of looking after yourself.”
World Mental Health Day logo from here
Featured image from here