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Borders organisations join in effort to remove mental health stigma

Mental health problems can have a devastating impact on people’s lives – but they are treatable, just like physical health problems.

To raise awareness of some of the issues involved local charity Live Borders recently teamed up with Scottish Borders Council and NHS Borders to mark World Mental Health Day and mobilise efforts in support of mental health in the region.

The event took place at Galashiels Library last Monday when members of the public were invited along to talk about any mental health issues affecting them, their families or their friends.

“There are many things that people can do to help look after their mental health, just in the same way that there are things they can do to look after their bodies,” said Live Borders Arts Development Manager Lisa Denham.

Among several exhibitions showing on the day, artist Emmie Mackay hosted ‘Conversations for Change’ – a public art project in conversation about mental health with a view to generating as many everyday conversations on the topic of mental health, in as many everyday places and situations as possible.

The project has been funded by See Me, Scotland’s programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination, with the hope of making people feel more comfortable speaking about mental health and helping to remove the stigma that can have a devastating impact on people’s lives.

“Mental health problems are not just things that happen to other people - this conversation is for everyone. You could make a big difference to someone’s life by talking to them,” said Emmie.

One in four people will experience a mental health problem each year while three children in every classroom suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder.

Also, providing information on the day was Paul Davis, Live Borders Health and Physical Activity Development Officer, Charlotte Young, Macmillan Move More Borders Development Officer and Steph MacKenzie, Mental Health Improvement Specialist NHS Borders.

“World Mental Health Day is a chance to get us all to think about our mental health - what makes us feel good and what we can do to support the people around us,” said Allyson McCollam, Associate Director of Public Health.  “This year there are some exciting things going on in the Borders that open some different ways for us to look at mental health.”

Ewan Jackson, Chief Executive Live Borders, added: “The purpose of the event was to promote a range of activities that people can get involved in that are beneficial to their wellbeing.

“Research has shown that connecting with people, being active, taking notice, learning and giving can all have a positive effect on wellbeing.

“In terms of partnership working it was a good start and we are already planning to build on this for Mental Health Awareness Week in May next year.”

Live Borders Mental Health Day.jpg