Communities Embracing Mental Health campaign launched in Lowestoft
- Credit: Archant
Shops, charities, banks and other organisations in a coastal town have been urged to pledge how they can make life a little easier for people with mental health issues at the launch of a new campaign.
Communities Embracing Mental Health was launched at Lowestoft's Seagull Theatre in a bid to, in the words of organisers, 'break the attitude of them and us'.
The idea for the campaign came about earlier this year, when patients experiencing anxiety the challenges they face is visiting busy town centres.
Loud music, busy queues and unfamiliar settings can all unsettle those with underlying conditions who may then react in a variety of ways.
Tod Sullivan, chairman of Waveney-based Feedback Mental Health Service User Forum, said: 'People read it as being anti-social, but it is just people coping with stuff in their own way.'
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Mr Sullivan therefore gathered service users at Lowestoft Community Church a few weeks later so they could suggest things that might make visiting town centres easier.
Those ideas have now been formulated into a programme launched at Seagull Theatre event on Friday (November 18), where organisations were encouraged to take away a flyer to return with pledges of things they can sign up to.
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They include simple changes like looking out for people wearing the campaign's new green-coloured wristbands and displaying window stickers, to agreeing to turn down music and certain periods of the week and creating quiet zones – where people with mental health conditions can take time out.
The campaign is also looking for businesses that will take part in a buddy scheme to support patients during their visits.
But Mr Sullivan said firms can sign up to as much or as little as they want, particularly as many small firms may have limited resources.
'We don't want to have two tiers of people where there are those with mental health issues and those without,' he added.
'We are trying to break the attitude of them and us.
'Everyone suffers from mental health problems in the same way they do physical health problems.'
Mr Sullivan also said he wanted more young people to engage with the campaign.
The launch follows an event held by Lowestoft Vision business improvement district (BID) and Catalyst Counselling earlier this year, where training was given to businesses on mental health in the workplace.
Southwold-based mental health activist Sarah Barrett, 19 – who won this year's Stars of Lowestoft and Waveney Awards for her bravery in raising awareness about the issue – said: 'As people start to take about it and fight the stigma, it makes it easier for everyone else around to start coming out and try making a positive difference.
'Mental health is nothing people need to hide and the support is out there in this community.'
How do you think town centres can change to make things easier for people with mental health issues? Write, giving your full contact details, to: firstname.lastname@example.org