Ever since returning from some of the events during Epsom’s 4th Mental Health Week in October 2011, it has been my dream for something similar to be held in Worthing.
In Epsom, I was given the opportunity to pick up literature about various mental health diagnoses; to chat with people, in a non clinical setting (it was held in a church); to learn about local support groups both professional and voluntary; to listen to speakers on a range of mental wellness topics, and to participate in workshops. There were times when it was just quiet, and I was allowed to sit and rest and do nothing. It sounds so simple, yet it was healing.
I found that my thinking and ignorance was gently challenged – simply because I had access to good quality information for the first time. I watched professionals, charity volunteers, and service-users share their sandwiches and chat as equals. I watched professionals in one discipline talk with colleagues from other fields to discover they had common ground and common hopes. As one of the organizers said, he wished they had put the word ‘Awareness’ into ‘Epsom Mental Health Week’.
In 2012, I told Cllr Robert (Bob) Smytherman, who was then Deputy Mayor, about Epsom, and about my dream for a Mental Health Awareness Week in Worthing.
Bob, of course, set the challenge – for a member of the public to organize the Event. And so here we are. The first Worthing Mental Health Awareness Week was 7-12 October 2013 has a number of events hosted at Offington Park Methodist Church.
World Mental Health Day itself (10th October) is being celebrated by events organized by Guild Care, Alzheimer’s Society and Mind as well as activities and events at Offington.
I’m immensely grateful to Rev James Bamber of Offington Park Methodist Church who said ‘Yes’ when I asked, “Can I borrow your Church for a week?” Neither could I have organized this week without the support and advice of the members of the Mayor’s Charity Committee.
One of the most amazing things about Worthing Mental Health Awareness Week is that is it is at minimal cost. It is a week of events running entirely on a very short shoestring and good will.
The speakers are giving their time and knowledge freely. The workshops are free. The exhibition is free, charities and support groups are providing free literature. Allie who designed the logo and maintains the Mayor’s website does all this without charge.
There will be two fundraising concerts for the Mayor’s Charities – but the performers have given their time freely.
This is for everyone: for patients / service-users, for professionals, for those in the voluntary sectors, for carers, for the public … for you. Everyone is welcome to come to as many events as they wish.
Ever since Carol returned from some of the events during Epsom’s 4th Mental Health Week in October 2011, it has been her dream for something similar to be held in Worthing and in Oct 2013 her dream came true.
Bob Smytherman has dedicated his Mayoral year of 2013- 2014 to Mental Health Awareness by supporting 3 main Worthing Charities – Guild Care – Worthing Mind – Alzheimers Socciety.
John won an award for his photography in Sussex Partnership’s Positive Image – challenging mental health discrimination and stigma? John is the Worthing Mayor’s Photographer.