Library Services support annual World Mental Health Day

Personnel from St Helens Council's Public Health, Libraries, Learning and Arts teams, residents and mental health service providers at Central Library
Personnel from St Helens Council's Public Health, Libraries, Learning and Arts teams, residents and mental health service providers at Central Library

St Helens Council’s Library Services recently helped to ensure more local people with mental health issues can live with dignity after hosting a World Mental Health Day celebration at Central Library.

Organised by the World Federation of Mental Health, the annual campaign features a new theme each year, this time focusing on dignity in mental health.

At the library event, event-goers had the chance to view local artist Jacqui Priestly’s new project called Lost Narratives, which explores the notions of loss, disrupted identity and dislocated memory often associated with certain mental health issues, through the use of obfuscated, shredded and burned book pages.

There was also an opportunity for locals to share their views and experiences with mental health issues in an open-mic session, performing music, poetry or drama. A number of mental health service providers were on hand to offer free support and information.

The well-attended event culminated with an evening performance of ‘Hi Anxiety’ by Debs Gatenby, a frank autobiographical show that delves into some of the stigmas surrounding mental health. Part of the Cultural Hubs – Arts in Libraries programme, it’s the story of a mother and daughter, part tragic comedy, part brutal truth – a heart-breaking story about suffering and living through it.

Councillor Jeanie Bell, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “Research shows that one in four people nationally will experience mental health issues in the course of a year, so it’s certainly something that we, as a community, need to be proactive about. St Helens Public Health, Libraries, Learning and Arts teams are doing some fantastic work around challenging the stigmas of mental health and developing exciting new initiatives to improve mental health and wellbeing throughout the borough.”