Organisations across Bristol are finding ways to get people talking about the issues that matter to mark World Mental Health Day on 10 October.
This year’s national theme is mental health in the workplace so Bristol City Council is training its managers to better equip them to support staff and the public. This is all part of the council’s programme to create a mentally healthy and thriving city.
In-keeping with this programme, the council is launching a new schools’ mental health network and Healthy Schools badge to give schools tangible ways to support students and staff.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “There are things we can all do to improve our mental health and talking is the starting point. We know that the impact of poor mental health is vast. It puts a strain on individuals, families and communities as well as employers and health and social care providers, so we need to do more to address this. The reasons that people experience difficulties are complex and in the age of austerity overcoming some of these challenges is huge. But I am determined that Bristol become a city where everyone can thrive so we’re looking closely at how we can get there.”
There are many ways for local people to get involved with activities for World Mental Health Day. Running throughout the whole week is the Freedom of Mind Festival, a series of events celebrating mental health and emotional wellbeing. The festival ran for the first time last year and aims to encourage conversations city-wide with events themed around men, LGBT+, BAME communities and parental mental health to name a few.
The council’s Public Health team and Well Beans are running an event in Cabot Circus on Saturday (7 October) intended to spark conversations. Alongside the advice and information available, the event will include yoga taster sessions and an art exhibition as well as face paints and a magician for the kids. Information about how to look after your mental health will be available in Bristol Libraries* all week.
Martin Jones, Clinical Chair of Bristol CCG, said: “Mental health problems affect people from all walks of life, and yet there is a stigma attached that prevents people from talking about it. The people in our lives – from family and friends, to work colleagues and neighbours - are incredibly important to our wellbeing and help protect and sustain our mental health.
“No one should suffer in silence. If you’re stressed and routinely feeling anxious, tense or depressed, especially if you find that these feelings interfere with sleeping, eating, relationships or work, seek help and support from your GP or speak to 111. You can also visit Bristol Mental Health’s website that provides information on local services.”
Other activities taking place include Peerfest , an all-day event and evening with workshops on 9 October with art and music for people with lived experience of mental health problems. Peerfest is hosted by Bristol Independent Mental Health Network.
The University of Bristol will also be signing the Time to Change employer pledge to highlight their commitment to supporting students and staff this Friday (6 October). The university will also be hosting talks from mental health campaigners Jonny Benjamin and Neil Laybourn, who met when Neil talked Jonny out of taking his own life by jumping from London's Waterloo Bridge. The University West of England (UWE Bristol) is launching a new survey of student’s attitudes to mental health on the day and will be running a range of activities on campus, including giving wellbeing packs to students. Last month the university launched Kooth, a free, safe and anonymous online counselling and support service giving students the opportunity to chat to friendly counsellors until 10pm, 365 days a year.
There is a wide range of support available in the city and the first step is to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. For support with mental health issues speak to your GP or call NHS 111.
*Libraries with information listed below:
Shirehampton (Stress, anxiety and depression leaflets only)