17 December 2015

Talking to tackle stigma

SteveBuddFive minutes can make decades of difference when it comes to mental health stigma.

During an anti-stigma event in the foyer of Weston General Hospital on 10 December, AWP staff, led by local involvement coordinator Stephen Budd, had five minute conversations about mental health with almost 100 people.

All of us experience better or worse mental health at different times - albeit to lesser or greater extremes - with one in four of us experiencing mental health problems each year. Nearly nine out of ten people experiencing mental health problems say they face stigma and discrimination as a result - and for some this can be even worse than the symptoms themselves. Encouraging more people to think and talk about mental health more often and in more depth is a great way to break down stigma.

AWP is working with local groups to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination and the event on 10 December, which was organised by Stephen Budd, was held in partnership with Weston General Hospital, Time to Change, The Samaritans and Rethink.

The centrepiece was a 'recovery tree' on which Christmas baubles were hung featuring messages of recovery and hope from service users - and people were asked to add their own messages on the day. Alongside information from local and national mental health organisations, Stephen and the team handed out pens, badges, stress balls, car stickers - and chocolate - to remind people to think about mental health. Staff and volunteers were on hand to discuss issues and answer questions.

Stephen said, "The day was a great success in promoting awareness of mental health and breaking down stigma."

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