Lowestoft organisations urged to be mental health friendly as part of new campaign

Launch of a new campaign to get Kirkley businesses to support people with mental health issues. Tod

Launch of a new campaign to get Kirkley businesses to support people with mental health issues. Todd Sullivan with Beth Stephens (blue top) and Alice Webster. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

For those with a mental health condition, a trip to the town centre to visit the bank or go to the shops might seem like a hugely daunting hurdle to overcome.

But now, a charity is launching a campaign urging organisations and businesses across Lowestoft to take small steps to become more mental health friendly.

The idea for the Communities Embracing Mental Health campaign came about from service users who reported there are 'times when we need help and don't know what to do, or who to ask'.

One person with social anxiety, who did not want to be named, said: 'I was afraid of going anywhere where people would be if I didn't know them, like shops or meetings.'

Tod Sullivan – chairman of the charity Feedback Mental Health, which is running the campaign – said: 'People read it as being anti-social, but it is just people coping with stuff in their own way.'

As a result Feedback Mental Health is organising an event, bringing service users and town organisations together, to see if they can make changes that would make a positive difference to those with mental health issues. The changes might be simple – for example cafés making available a glass of water and some time for someone who may have anxiety, or banks and post offices making it easier to talk to an adviser.

However Feedback Mental Health said it is 'avoiding dictating what should happen', saying instead that: 'It needs to come from the people most affected.'

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Mr Sullivan said: 'We'd like to come up with a 'community promise', where organisations can sign up to what is reasonable.

'Communities Embracing Mental Health is a chance for people across our community to transform the way that we work and realise how we can all make an impact on each other.'

The campaign will be launched at an event on Friday, July 8 at Lowestoft Community Church, on the South Lowestoft Industrial Estate.

Between 1pm and 3pm, mental health service users will say what they would find helpful, and Waveney MP Peter Aldous and Lowestoft mayor Nick Webb will explain the idea to organisations and businesses afterwards.

Sarah Barrett, a mental health activist from Southwold who has been dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, said: 'I love the idea.

'From my point of view, knowing that places like this exist will make it easier for me to go out shopping on my own and I can see how this would be so helpful for others.'

Email tod.sullivan@homegroup.org.uk or call 01502 516535 for more information.

Do you have a Lowestoft story? Email andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk