Open Up at Open: Our major new event dedicated to improving Norfolk’s mental health

OPEN Up event Photocall. David Powles Editor of EDP, Hayley Gerrard - OPEN, Nelsons Journey - Jess M

OPEN Up event Photocall. David Powles Editor of EDP, Hayley Gerrard - OPEN, Nelsons Journey - Jess Moses, Ormiston Families - Volunteers, Active Norfolk- Sam Watts, Leeway| Domestic Abuse Charity- Gabriella Harvey Mobbs, Wellbeing Service- Ben Ryan, Helen Bridge & Gemma Nobbs from Aviva and Lambert Construction- sponsors. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Archant

A major new all-day event focusing on mental ill health, the best advice and support for sufferers and aimed at getting people to share their stories is being launched by this newspaper.

Open up at OPEN, which is being sponsored by Liam Lambert Construction Ltd will take place on March

Open up at OPEN, which is being sponsored by Liam Lambert Construction Ltd will take place on March 6 2020. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Open Up at Open will focus on the many issues around mental health which directly impact the people of Norfolk.

The free to attend event, which is being sponsored by Liam Lambert Construction Ltd, will see a series of sessions held through the day covering issues including mental health in children, standards of care, Sir Norman Lamb's new dedicated charity and more. It will also feature people's real-life stories to offer advice and help spread the message to those who suffer, and their friends and relatives, that they are not alone.

It will take place at Open Norwich, in Bank Plain, on Friday, March 6.

David Powles, editor-in-chief of the EDP and Evening News, said: "We've been running our Mental Health Watch campaign for several years and hopefully it has done a lot of good. However, we were keen to be more hands on and come up with an event that opens up a wide range of vital discussions as well as provides valuable advice and information for anyone who is affected by mental health in any way.

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"This event is open to absolutely everyone. Come for the whole day or just find a session that works for you. I'm really proud that we're holding this and I do hope it can make a really positive difference and be the first of many."

One in six people in England experience a common mental health problem every single week. Meanwhile, in Norfolk suicide rates are higher than average, in particular amongst young men. Our mental health trust also remains in special measures.

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Gemma and Liam Lambert, of the Besthorpe-based construction firm, said they were keen to back the event due to their own experiences.

They said: "Our daughter tried to take her own life as a 14-year-old and we've seen first-hand how mental health can impact people's lives. Everyone knows someone this has happened to, yet there needs to be more awareness of the fact that you can talk to people and it is good to talk to people.

"If this event can make the difference to just one person it will have been worthwhile. We hope it will help many more and we are delighted to be involved."

The programme, which runs from 8.30am to 6pm, will kick off with a live broadcast debate hosted by BBC Radio Norfolk, followed by discussions on topics such as mental health in children, standards of care and Sir Norman Lamb's new dedicated mental health charity.

People will be able to attend yoga sessions, breathing and mindfulness workshops.

There will also be talks from people including former Norwich City player Darren Eadie, actor Joe Tracini and blogger Carly Rowena who will be sharing their own personal experiences, offering real-life advice and support to help spread the message that no-one facing mental ill health is alone.

A number of mental health charities and organisation will also be at the event, providing information about their work and specialisms.

Hayley Gerrard, from Open, said: "We at OPEN Youth Trust are proud to be the home of Open up at OPEN as we are only too aware as a youth charity of how important it is to break down any barriers and encouraging everyone to talk about their mental health.

"We all will know someone with a mental health problem right now - a family member, a friend, a work colleague and being "open" to mental health really can break down any stigma surrounding it. Talking can quite literally save a life."

Full details of the line up will be published over the next few days.

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