Mental health stigma challenged by human library in Norwich

Challenging the stigma of mental health amongst young people was the difficult issue being tackled at the Forum, in Norwich, yesterday.

The Norfolk and Wavney Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust held a 'youth wellbeing fair' to bring together local organisations that support the emotional, physical and sexual health of young people.

There were taster sessions in yoga, street dance, graffiti and DJ workshops alongside drugs and alcohol awareness sessions, and stalls from the likes of YMCA Norfolk and Norfolk Young Carers, as well as a range of NHS services.

Sam Harbrow, early intervention support worker at Norfolk and Wavney Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, organised the event and was pleased to see a good response to the event.

He said: 'Today is about challenging the stigma of mental health among young people and about them discovering something about the services available to them, but about having a bit of fun as well. Especially with teenagers because they don't want to talk about something they are not interested in.

'So we are trying to provide the information about what to watch for in themselves and to take care of their friends as well.'

One of the most eye-catching stalls was People On Loan from

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This gave an opportunity to borrow a person and learn about things that may challenge people's views, with people naming themselves, such as HIV Positive, Gay from the 60s, Muslim and Refugee from Nazi Germany.

Tonia Mihill was helping run the event and said: 'The conversations are all about a discriminatory subject to facilitate a conversation that will challenge people's views.

'We had a brilliant response, most of our 'books' were out all the time and people were really interested.'

Another group promoting the services they can offer to people with mental health issues was Community Music East, who held a junk music session early in the day, making music out of junk.

Joe Mace explained further, saying: 'We work in the community with people aged from 0-25 to build people's confidence, usually with people who have mental health issues.

'We hold events like rock schools and we go into schools and the community so work with quite a lot of people trying to help them learn and enjoy music.'

For more information about the event and similar future events, search for 'Central Norfolk Early Intervention Team' on Facebook.

Are you organising a big event in Norwich? Contact reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or email

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