Liverpool Mental Health Festival A Huge Success

THE only one of its kind in the UK, Liverpool Mental Health Festival concluded last Sunday after taking over theatres, cinemas, parks and event spaces across the city. Two weeks of free events and activities were delivered as part of the festival in over 30 venues with more than 70 organisations taking part. Organisers Liverpool Mental Health Consortium have run events to promote good mental health and break down the stigma around mental distress for the past seven years, to coincide with World Mental Health Day, giving a voice to people who experience mental distress and providing local organisations with a platform to promote their services. But this year they co-ordinated a full festival programme, offering information and advice as well as fun and entertainment. The festival was a testament to the organiser’s strong partnerships with creative organisations such as Writing on the Wall, the Comedy Trust, Threshold Festival and Africa Oyé and boasted a Comedy Night at Comedy Central, a film night at FACT, a series of creative workshops and a public celebration on Williamson Square including local bands, street circus and a roller skating performance. Other highlights were the “Mental Health & Me: Faces, Places & Spaces” creative writing awards at Central Library, delivered in partnership with Writing on the Wall (special thanks to Chanel Scott-Jeffers) and with festival Patron, musician and creative mind Bill Ryder-Jones present to announce the winning writer, Marian Carey. Also the art exhibition “Respect”, which displayed art from 27 artists across two venues for a week and was launched by internationally acclaimed artists the Singh Twins. The Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services partnership, CAMHS, participated in the celebration on Williamson Square and ran a number of events under the umbrella of the festival. The partnership was delighted about taking part, having talked to over 1600 children, young people and families on 8th October alone. Simon Bowers, Clinical Vice Chair of NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “As part of the Liverpool Mental Health Festival, it was fantastic to see Liverpool CAMHS partners raising awareness of the support available in Liverpool around helping children and young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. This collaborative approach is what makes Liverpool CAMHS unique and it’s great to see the city making mental health everyone’s business”. Festival partner Health@Work reported fully-booked sessions at their “Wellbeing in the Workplace” event and even had to upgrade to larger rooms to accommodate the number of participants. Feedback from the public has been overwhelmingly positive and with this year’s festival being such a success, there can be no question about doing it all over again next October. Claire Stevens, Development Manager at Liverpool Mental Health Consortium, said: “Our objectives were to raise awareness, challenge stigma and promote wellbeing whilst at the same time making people laugh, sing, dance and enjoy themselves. If we succeeded, then we’ll do it again!”