A NETWORK of Mental Health Friendly Places is being put together involving neighbourhood venues across Leicester.
Businesses, shops, hairdressers, community centres and other public-facing services can all apply to be part of the community providing safe, non-judgemental places for people to talk about their mental health concerns and to access further information on services which can help them.
Five local services have already signed up for the Mental Health Friendly Places scheme – they include P3 Mental Health and Wellbeing Service based in St Martins, Leicester; Peace of Green CIC which runs forest schools and other outdoor learning; Two Queens art gallery and studio in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter; the charity South Asian Health Action and city-based mental health charity Jamila’s Legacy.
Qualified Mental Health First Aiders are already on hand at most city council-run neighbourhood centres, but staff at any venues who want to get involved are now being offered additional training.
This can be in the form of improving conversational skills, or more in-depth training such as a Samaritans listening skills or mental health awareness training.
The Mental Health Friendly Places project is jointly funded by Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council, which were successful in securing funding from NHS England for the Wave 4 Suicide Prevention Programme.
The local suicide prevention programme includes the Start A Conversation campaign, whose website provides a wealth of information relating to mental health, wellbeing and crisis support.
Through the website services and organisations can sign up to become Mental Health Friendly Places and people can sign up to become Start A Conversation champions, helping to spread the word about the campaign and mental wellbeing support.
Leicester deputy city mayor for social care, health and community safety, Cllr Sarah Russell, said: “Having someone that you trust who you can talk to can have huge benefits for mental health.
“Not everyone has someone in their life who they can turn to, and this campaign to create Mental Health Friendly Places will make that support available within local communities.
“By learning how to recognise signs and symptoms of low-level mental ill health, asking appropriate questions, listening effectively and signposting to local mental health and wellbeing services, people can really make a positive difference to where they live and work.
“So if you run a local shop, sports club or community centre, please sign up to become a Mental Health Friendly Place and help us spread the word about mental health.”
Rehana Sidat, founder of Jamila’s Legacy, added: “We are proud to be involved in the Mental Health Friendly Places initiative.
“We believe community services and organisations that interact with the public on a daily basis have a huge part to play in supporting people to maintain mental health wellbeing and prevent people deteriorating and reaching crisis point.
“Jamila’s Legacy offers welcoming and safe spaces led by non-judgemental and empathetic staff. The training and support will enable staff and volunteers with the understanding and awareness needed to notice signs and symptoms and respond with confidence to support people who are struggling to cope.”
To register to become a Mental Health Friendly Place and access the free training sign up here.