World Mental Health day fell on the 10th October and it has dominated my activities this week. For the first time ever there was a Mayoral reception in Southport Town Hall to mark the event. Mental Health remains an underfunded and neglected area of care. We have seen destressing cases, for example, when a young women was held in a police cell because there was no appropriate hospital bed available. I know of cases where the only available hospital bed for someone in crisis was hundreds of miles away. The situation is particularly acute in services for adolescents.
There is a desperate need to discuss mental ill health so as to challenge the stigma that still surrounds this topic. I have spent over thirty years working for a mental health charity. Speaking with some of the people who use our services it is clear that public attitudes towards those with mental health issues still need to be challenged.
In the Town Hall this week we focussed on one particular topic that is of great importance to people recovering from mental ill health- namely getting and keeping a job. It was good to hear the stories of those people who had been successfully in achieving that goal. It was great to hear from employers and here I must give a special mention to Morrisons and their representative Anna Ingrams.
If mental health is to be treated in exactly the same way as physical health, every employer should have trained Mental Health First Aiders just like they have physical first aiders.
I began the week by opening an Art Exhibition of work submitted by people using mental health services. They had all attended a workshop called ‘Art for the Terrified’ and produced some really amazing pictures.
Finally on the mental health theme I was greatly encouraged when I attended Merseyside Scouts Annual meeting. One of the presentations came from the 4th Crosby Scouts who told us about two of their projects-one connected to the canal and one on mental health. The young people in the troop had chosen the topics themselves and they spoke movingly of what they had learnt about mental health issues and their resolve to do their bit to alter public attitudes.