Mental Health campaign comes to Stornoway

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SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) and local mental health organisations are coming together to highlight the mental health help and support available in the Western Isles.

The Know Where to Go campaign was launched in May with support from Stephen Fry and Scottish actor Sanjeev Kohli. Although one in four adults will experience a mental health problem in any given year, over 800,000 people in Scotland wouldn’t know where to seek help if they had concerns about their mental health. And a new SAMH report suggests that those living in remote and rural areas face additional challenges in getting help.

The report found that while living in a remote or rural area can have benefits for your wellbeing, it can be hard to get help for a mental health problem.

The problems can be logistical, such as getting to a hospital-based service with limited transport options and long distances. They can also be social: it can be harder to seek help for a mental health problem in a small community where most people know each other. And Scottish research has found that isolation from social networks and support services, combined with an exaggerated culture of self-reliance, may contribute to stress, anxiety and depression in rural areas.

To help people know where to go, on the 26th September SAMH will host an event in partnership with the Western Isles Association for Mental Health and Penumbra. Local people are invited to come along to the Bridge Centre in Stornoway to get a taste of what services are available on Lewis, and what activities you can participate in locally to combat stress, keep active and look after your mental health and wellbeing.

Anne, who has lived on Lewis all her life, said,

“There are quite few services out there offering help but unless you live in the main town, Stornoway, access can be very difficult unless you drive a car.

It’s also more difficult for those who are new to the area and have few or no friends and relatives nearby. I was lucky someone suggested I contact the Western Isles Association for Mental Health when I became unwell. Not everyone will get this information.”

Carolyn Roberts, Head of Policy and Campaigns at SAMH said,

“More than 25% of people who experience mental health problems wait more than a year to seek help after first developing concerns. This event really is about highlighting what services are available locally, and some of the different ways in which you can maintain good mental health. It’s a really great opportunity to find out more, whether you need it now or not.”

Del Gunn, manager of the Western Isles Association for Mental Health’s Catch 23 drop-in service said,

“There are challenges for mental health workers in the Western Isles, but in turn there are also advantages to working in such a small community. As the numbers of people who work supporting those with mental health problems are quite small, knowing who to signpost a service user to promote their recovery is usually quite a quick process.

As an organisation we are also very concerned that many people who need assistance don’t often know who to turn to for help and also find accessing services very difficult due to their living in the more remote and isolated parts of the islands.”

The SAMH Know Where to Go Event will be held in the Bridge Centre, Stornoway, from 10.30am until 6.30pm on Wednesday 26th September 2012. Events include, wellbeing workshops, massage therapy and yoga taster sessions.

All events are free, but numbers are limited, to book a place email policy@samh.org.uk or call 0141 530 1054.