As a leading training provider of health professionals, University of Cumbria has a major role in helping to mark World Mental Health Day across the North West.
Visitors are invited to the Festival of Mental Health, a day of workshops, sessions, presentations, art and exhibitions taking place at the university’s Lancaster campus on Thursday, 10 October (World Mental Health Day).
Gardening, mindfulness and bereavement support sessions, discovering how gaming can be beneficial to mental wellbeing, and learning about Dementia Friends are among the activities available.
The Alexandra Building on campus will become a market place for help, support and guidance, with information stalls from organisations including The Ronnie Gardiner Method, The Well Communities, Lancashire Mind, Promedica24, Oglethorpe Sturton & Gillibrand LLP, Advocacy Focus, Alzheimer’s Society – North Lancashire, University Hospitals Morecambe Bay Trust, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, CCrAMHP and Asylum magazine, Morecambe Police Community Support, Minds Matter, and A.C.C.E.S.S Counselling and Emotional Support Services.
Broadcaster, author, parliamentarian and University of Cumbria honorary fellow Lord Melyvn Bragg of Wigton is once again supporting the festival as patron.
Lord Bragg said: “Mental health plays such a destructive part with so many people’s lives in today’s society. It is crucial therefore that we start to recognise its importance as equal to our physical health needs, and look for ways to build on our resilience, whilst strengthening our overall wellbeing.
“Having known depression and mental stress myself and having been President of MIND for 15 years, I thoroughly endorse the continued efforts of the University of Cumbria in raising awareness of the need for good mental health and wellbeing with staff, students and the local community, and welcome this ongoing campaign.
“It’s heartening that the University of Cumbria is taking such a positive role in facing up to a problem so long hidden away and ignored, and now so urgently in need of attention.”
Festival organisers Steve McCarthy-Grunwald and Charlotte Pearce, both lecturers in mental health nursing at the university, have a network of contacts to bring together groups and individuals as diverse as Lancashire’s Ludus Dance, national charity Anxiety UK and the Morecambe-based company Quantam Games.
Steve said: “We’re passionate about mental health and have drawn together a wide ranging programme which we hope will raise awareness of the issues individuals face across their lifespan, and what we can do to maintain our own wellbeing.”
Current mental health nursing students at the university will be among those volunteering at the festival, providing arts and crafts and organising a tea and cake sale in aid of The Mental Health Foundation, celebrating 10 years of fundraising through Tea and Talk.
Artists have donated pieces for a fine art exhibition, items of which will be auctioned off to raise funds for charity Escape2Make. The charity helps 11-18 year olds across Lancaster and Morecambe by providing workshops and short courses hosted by businesses, artists and university students.
Charlotte said: “People often hold negative preconceptions of mental illness and even the term ‘mental health’ as though it doesn’t apply to them or is something to be feared. The festival exists to spread awareness, and show that with knowledge and understanding, people do recover from mental ill health and with further supports and resources more can be done to achieve healthier communities and improved mental wellbeing. Mental health isn’t just about preventing mental ill health, it is about reaching our potential and being able to flourish.”
This week, the university is also one of the major Cumbrian employers supporting ‘This is Me’, a campaign which challenges the stigma around mental health at work by supporting people to tell their own stories and provides a network of support and resources for businesses and employers.