Spreading the word about good mental wellbeing

Greenwich Mayor Cllr Jim Gillman gave a speech to mark World Mental Health Day
Greenwich Mayor Cllr Jim Gillman gave a speech to mark World Mental Health Day in General Gordon Square in Woolwich

Oxleas staff have been spreading the word about the benefits of good mental health and wellbeing across south east London.

Marking World Mental Health Day (WMHD), which is observed in more than 100 countries, Oxleas and local partners manned stalls in Bexley and Bromley on Friday 7 October and Greenwich on Monday 10 October, the official World Mental Health Day.

In Bromley a lively stall in the High Street was graced with the musical talents of Bromley Music Group, an ensemble of service users and staff, who recently performed at Oxleas’ Annual Members’ Meeting.

Three members of the group sang and jammed away attracting members of the public including grandad Bob Jafrato and his grandaughter Jessica Miles-Paterson, aged three. Bob who said he was a member of a band called the Coffin Dodgers picked up a guitar and started strumming away with the group as Jessica looked on.

MP for Bromley and Chislehurst, Bob Neill, who stopped by the stall, said: “It was a pleasure to visit it and learn how we are improving mental health services in our area and ending the stigma of people with mental health problems.”

The stall was manned by: Kate Thornton, an occupational therapist with Bromley Early Intervention Team; practice development nurse Julia Ives; Ivy Willis House unit manager, Suki Basi; service user Paul Tripptree and Armarjit Chahal from Rethink Bromley Advocacy Service.

In a rather windy Bexleyheath the Mayor of Bexley, Cllr Ray Sams, teamed up with Bexleyheath and Crayford MP, David Evennett, to help support the WMHD stall. Hardy Oxleas staff such as Team Manager, Bromley and Bexley Early Interventions Teams, Simon Sherring and occupational therapist, Caroline Pickup, held on to the stand as the wind turned the plastic stall sides into billowing sails. And talking of wind, Simon deserves a heartfelt well done for blowing up countless WMHD balloons to the delight of local youngsters – albeit with the aid of a Helium canister. Despite the inclement weather the stall attracted numerous visits from the public, many of whom wanted to share their own stories of mental health and that of their family and friends.  

Oxleas shared the Bexleyheath stall with Bexley Mind and First Step Trust, a charity providing real work and employment opportunities for people excluded from ordinary working life because of mental health problems and other disadvantages.

At the Greenwich event on Monday, the Mayor and Mayoress of Greenwich, Cllrs Jim and Janet Gillman and Cllr Peter Kotz, joined representatives from Oxleas, Greenwich MIND, Greenwich Health Living Service, Greenwich Council and Greenwich Food Co-operative in the newly opened General Gordon Square in Woolwich town centre.

The Mayor, Cllr Jim Gillman, who opened the event at 11am said of WMHD: “Talking about mental health helps to take the fear out of it. Once we understand the causes of mental health difficulties, we can approach the subject differently.”

Cllr Peter Kotz added: “We have a challenging time ahead of us financially, which may result in increased incidences of anxiety, stress and depression.

“Making sure people understand mental health and how they can keep good mental wellbeing is important.”

Also trust governor, Judy Wolfram and four volunteers were handing out membership forms and information about services and wellbeing to commuters at Charlton Train Station.

Published on 13th October 2011