World Mental Health Day 2016 at Bridge & Around the World

Info for Commissioners, Mental Health Awareness

Over the past weekend, the Bridge team and our supporters had the privilege of sharing in the global spirit of mental health solidarity, by commemorating World Mental Health Day (10 October) on our own turf in Greenwich, London.

World Mental Health Day 2016: Mental first aid

This year’s themes, set by the World Federation for Mental Health, are Dignity in Mental Health and Psychological & Mental Health First Aid for All. The aim is to contribute to “the goal of taking mental health out of the shadows so that people in general feel more confident in tackling the stigma, isolation, and discrimination that continues to plague people with mental health conditions, their families and carers.”

Greenwich event: Bridge and Co.

As those of you who are familiar with the Bridge groove know, we hardly need encouragement to get bashing away at the doors of stigma and discrimination. We live and breathe the educating of businesses and individuals around Mental Health First Aid.

And so, on Saturday we took on these tasks with gusto, joining hands with several local mental health organisations to bring World Mental Health Day 2016 to General Gordon Square, Woolwich, Greenwich.

The day’s program, in partnership with Health Watch, the Royal Borough of GreenwichGreenwich MindOxleas NHS, and a group of local general health practitioners, included:

  • Multiple screenings of Bridge’s 90 second film, ‘Recovery – a journey not a destination’
  • Line dancing with Greenwich Get Active
  • The presentation of various wellbeing activities at our Recovery College Greenwich, including workshops on mindfulness, sleep, mental first aid, and training sessions on how to help someone with OCD, Depression or Dementia, and surviving sexual abuse and sexual assault (what it takes to survive and thrive)

Thanks and Gratitude

Looking back at the day’s proceedings, we feel particularly grateful for, and inspired by:

  • The spirited participation of Bridge’s clients. Kudos to you for making an invaluable contribution to breaking stigma and creating awareness!
  • The opportunity to join forces with mental health activists, such as Katy Grazebrook, Clinical Lead at Greenwich Time To Talk, David Gardener, and several local councillors.
  • The many meaningful conversations we had with members of the public, from singletons on a day out on the town, to families with young children. We salute those who reached out to us for advice on how to support loved ones battling with mental illness.

The Southern Hemisphere Celebrates Mental Health Awareness

While the programs in Greenwich certainly preoccupied our hearts and minds, there were two Southern Hemisphere projects that caught our attention: The Hope Hike (South Africa) and Mental Health Australia’s Make a Promise to Yourself campaign.

Hope Hike, South Africa  

The Hope Hike, presented by the Ithemba Foundation (Ithemba means hope), raises awareness of depression and promotes suicide prevention by facilitating countrywide hikes during the month of October.

The first informal Hope Hike was organised in 2011, close to 10 September, to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day. To coincide with UNESCO’s Mental Health Awareness Month, the first official Hope Hike was organised on 14 October in 2012, closest to 10 October, World Mental Health Awareness Day.

Ithemba founder and mental health activist, Lizette Rabe, declares:

“It is the Hope Hike because if depression is the illness of despair, we need to constantly build HOPE and not only raise awareness, but contribute to public education around psychiatric diseases, also in order to destigmatise and humanise these diseases.”

Make a Promise to Yourself, Australia

Meanwhile, in a land Down Under, Mental Health Australia, promoted the idea that Mental Health Begins with Me, through their “Make a promise to yourself” campaign.

Inviting the public to participate, the project encourages people to write a mental health promise to themselves: “It doesn’t have to be long it just needs to be meaningful to you. Keep it short and achievable. Or you can choose one of the promises we have prepared.”

Suggested mental health promises include practices such as:

  • Try and get more sleep
  • Eat healthier meals at home
  • Celebrate the good days and don’t dwell on the bad days
  • Do what makes me happy
  • Cut back on my bad habits
  • Stop taking my mobile phone to bed with me
  • Spend more time with my family and friends
  • Give back to my local community through something fun and meaningful
  • Exercise more often
  • Ask for help when I need it

The promise wall lets you upload a photo of yourself, or of something connected to your promises, and gives the option of receiving a copy of your promise as a jpeg for you to share with your friends, family, school mates and colleagues.

Number of promises submitted up to date: 15651!

Mental Health Awareness Day, Every Day

While the official day of commemoration has lapsed for another year, our job is not done. Bridge Mental Health will continue to promote awareness every day of the year, and would like to encourage each mother, father, brother, sister, employer and employee to nurture the mental health and wellbeing of yourself and those entrusted in your care.

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