‘DON’T be afraid to ask for help’ was the message as people of all ages came together in Shiremoor to show that World Mental Health Day can be an upbeat occasion.
Groups Songs for All and The Kifkaf Band performed to kick start the day, which was all about raising awareness of mental health problems, from which so many suffer in silence.
Jane Noble, a mental health service user development officer, organised the event held at Shiremoor Resource Centre.
“It’s a happy, upbeat day,” she said.
“The reason for today is to show people there is hope, that they can recover from mental health problems and that they should not be afraid to ask for help, because it’s not a weakness.
“A lot more people are affected now because of the economy.
“People are losing their jobs and homes and are left very vulnerable.
“Thirty-eight per cent of the population now suffer from mental health problems – it’s gone up from one in four to one in three.”
She added that those with mental health problems are now having to face the changes to the benefits system which are being faced in by the government.
The new system means that those who are claiming incapacity benefit, will be reassessed to see if they are fit for work, and this is causing additional stress and worry.
“Now they are having to deal with the changes to the benefits system and that is such a scary thing,” Jane said.
“Vulnerable people become even more vulnerable. “The mental health teams have told me that many service users are deteriorating because of it.”
At the event there were stalls from a number of organisations with information on help available, as well as a quiz, buffet lunch and raffle.
Jane added: “It’s about getting the message out there – because there is so much stigma – that you are not alone, and making people aware that there are services in the community, catering for people with mental health difficulties.
“Don’t struggle alone because there is support out there.
“It’s the way forward and the first step on the path to recovery.”
North Tyneside Mental Health Forum meets regularly and is open to service users, carers and other interested parties.
For details, call Jane on 07912 991391 or e-mail email@example.com