‘Mental illness is NO prison sentence’: Rochdale group seek to change attitudes for World Mental Health Day

By Amelia Shaw

Mental health is not a prison sentence, a health and wellbeing manager has urged ahead of Rochdale’s World Mental Health Day celebrations tomorrow.

The event is organised by Rochdale and District Mind in order to raise awareness about mental health problems with this year’s theme being ‘Mental Health and Older Adults’.

There will be live performances from musicians such as The Carers Choir along with music from local mental health service user bands Blue Pitts and BuzzAlrins with danc

This campaign, which is celebrated internationally on October 10 every year, will also be the launch of Rochdale’s marketing campaign to raise awareness of signs and symptoms of postnatal depression and dementia

Herbert Mckenzie, Manager of the Black and Minority Ethnic Health and Wellbeing Team at Rochdale and District Mind, said: “One in four people have a mental health problem.

“Some of the people we are seeing are experiencing severe upheavals in their lives, it is not easy to point to any one thing, but can be a combination of several Psychological factors.”

The worldwide event was initially set up by the World Federation of Mental Health in order to enhance people’s knowledge on the different types of mental health disorders that exist, and to reduce the negativity associated with them.

Mr Mckenzie believes that the main issue for many sufferers is the negativity associated with the varying disorders, but admits that most of this stems from people’s lack of understanding about mental health.

When a study was carried out on school children it was discovered that there are more than 250 negative words used for people with mental health problems, which causes sufferers to feel isolated by society. 

People who are struggling with one or more of the various mental health conditions are often reluctant to seek help making their recovery slower and more difficult.

Mr Mckenzie urges those who believe they might be experiencing symptoms of mental health issues to seek help straight away, he said: “There is help available, you can recover from ill mental health; it is not a prison sentence.”

Councillor Colin Lambert, Rochdale Council’s Leader and Lead Member for Health, believes that this event ‘is the perfect way to find out the relevant information’ regarding mental health.

Only recently The Sun published the headline “1,200 killed by mental health patients” along with the story titled “Broken people, broken system”.

This along with the recent uproar regarding the removal of Halloween costumes which portray mental health patients as dangerous from supermarkets such as Tesco, doesn’t seem that the stereotypes associated with mental health is going away.

Mr Mckenzie agrees with the removal of such costumes and said that they are in ‘poor taste’ pointing out how ignorant a section of the community still is.

He also states that it may be necessary for supermarket staff to attend mental health awareness training.

However, it would appear that the government are willing to take a step forward in the fight to end the prejudices associated with mental health.

According to Mind during a fringe meeting on psychological therapies, James Morris, MP paid tribute to backbench MP’s who had been driving the mental health agenda in parliament.

He told the attendees that he was aiming to get mental health policy included in the conservative manifesto, and pushed the need for a wider range of psychological therapies to be available in the public sector.

For further information, help and advice from Rochdale and District Mind phone 0844 894 0180 or e-mail [email protected]

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