There can still be a stigma attached to mental ill-health. Katie Baldwin reports on an event challenging prejudice.
One in four people will suffer from a mental health problem at some time in their lives.
And on Friday, Leeds Civic Hall will open its doors to mark World Mental Health Day.
The aim is to raise awareness of mental health issues across the globe.
In Leeds, work has already been underway by the city’s Health and Wellbeing Board, which has been working improve mental health.
An event in June saw the idea of having a Mentally Healthy City discussed, with planning and urban design officers, health workers and recreation experts talk about how developments in Leeds can help support good mental health.
Coun Lisa Mulherin, chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “Improving people’s mental health and wellbeing is one of our key commitments and by getting everyone together and talking at event like these, we can plan for the future and make sure we have what we need in place to accomplish that goal.
“June’s event also saw some really interesting discussions about the major role buildings, parks, green spaces and other local facilities can all play in the emotional wellbeing of people living in Leeds. It’s important that we look at those factors in detail when thinking about how we can build healthy and sustainable communities.”
Friday’s event will see more than 30 organisations from around Leeds showcased in the Civic Hall’s banqueting suite, include ing Leeds Survivor-Led Crisis Service, Leeds Mind, Leeds City Council Adult Social Care and Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust.
Public tours of the Civic Hall will also take place and dancers and live musicians will perform.
Coun Adam Ogilvie, Leeds City Council’s executive member for adult social care, said: “This event will be a chance for us to open our doors and celebrate some of the fantastic work going on locally which is making a genuine difference to the lives of people experiencing mental health problems in our city.
“But as we celebrate what has already been accomplished, we must also take the opportunity to raise awareness about what still needs to be done. Whilst incredible progress has been made in removing the stigma around mental health issues, through holding events like this we must continue to break down barriers and ensure that people who need help have the both the confidence to ask for it and the information they need to find it.”
One man who has overcome mental health issues has also supported the day.
Mark Appleton works for office furniture supplier Vision Office in Garforth, Leeds, but a year ago he was unemployed after struggling with anxiety and depression.
“I found it particularly hard to deal with certain social situations and felt uncomfortable in crowded public places. This also made it difficult for me to travel on public transport. As a result I had been unemployed for more than a year,” he said.
The 25-year-old was referred to Pluss, a Social Enterprise who has helped over 220 disabled people into work across Leeds. In the city, only 11.2 per cent of people with enduring mental health conditions are in work.
Pluss helped him identify his skills and set up a work trial.
Mark said: “I felt good that people believed in me and that I could get support if needed. This helped me to grow in confidence and eventually be able to begin using public transport on my own.”
After the trial, he was taken on for a paid traineeship, which helped decrease his anxiety: “Now I have been taken on permanently by Vision Office, which is a very supportive and understanding employer. They have helped me through my NVQ in Customer Service and have also utilised my IT skills.
“It is good to be working again. My job has helped me become a lot more social and get into a routine which helps with my mental health. It is great to feel part of a team, and it has helped me overcome a lot of my personal issues and get on with life again,” he said.
Richard Lucas, owner and director at Vision Office, said: “Mark is now a trusted member of the team and I have seen a huge improvement since our first meeting, both professionally and socially.”