READING is marking Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May) with activities and events designed to help people relax and open a dialogue about mental wellbeing.
The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘stress’ and how people are coping with it. Research has shown that two thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes, and stress is a key factor in this.
On Tuesday 15th May, residents can take part in relaxed, friendly walk in beautiful surroundings – starting at 11am by Rivermead Leisure Centre and ending at the kiosk at Caversham Court, where staff from Reading Recovery College will be treating all the walkers to free refreshments.
The walk is dog friendly but it doesn’t matter if people don’t own a dog – everyone is welcome! It should take 20-30 mins and is suitable for all ages and beginners.
There is parking available at the Rivermead car park, £1 for 3 hours, or people can take public transport. The number 42 has a stop at Rivermead or the 22 and 24 buses will stop on the Caversham Rd, which is a 5 min walk from the leisure centre.
On Wednesday 16th May, the Alliance for Cohesion and Racial Equality (ACRE), supported by Reading Council and Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust, is hosting an event under the theme of ‘Dying Matters; Ok To Talk About It For Our Wellbeing.’ The focus of the event, which also marks Dying Matters Week, is how in many communities dying is a subject that is not openly discussed which often has a negative impact on people’s mental health.
People will be invited to look at how to deal with loss while maintaining wellbeing. There will be guest speakers, as well as relaxed and friendly discussion groups. The community event is taking place in the Hexagon (lower foyer), between 10am and 2:30pm.
The following week on Tuesday 22nd May, mental health champion, author and anorexia survivor, Hope Virgo, will be giving an insightful talk on her experiences of living with and recovering from anorexia. The talk takes place between 12 to 1pm in the Council Chamber, Reading Council Offices, Bridge Street. Hope will also be taking questions from the audience. Although the talk is primarily aimed at Council staff and partners working in mental health, members of the public are welcome to attend.
For more information or to register a place on any of the events listed, please contact Michelle Berry by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07834335103.
Reading’s Lead Councillor for Health, and the Council’s Mental Health Champion, Graeme Hoskin said: “Any of us can develop a mental health issue, and one in four people will be affected by mental illness in any one year. The effects can be as debilitating as physical illness, but may often remain hidden with people unable or unsure about how to get help.
“What is not as common is the same openness around mental illness that is seen with some physical conditions. It is important that we remove any stigma around mental health and promote good mental wellbeing.
“I welcome the activities taking place to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, which are designed to encourage conversations amongst groups and signpost people to support services, as well as help to raise awareness and educate people about mental health.
“I’d encourage people to take part in walk on 15th May – enjoy a chat and a stroll along the river- then a free drink and treat in the cafe!”
Reading Recovery College aims to promote good mental health and improve mental wellbeing and is open to anyone over the age of 18 with experience of mental illness, as well as their friends, family, carers or mental health practitioners and clinicians. It runs like any other college, providing education as the route to recovery.
Find out more about Hope Virgo’s inspirational story at www.hopevirgo.com