National recognition for mental health campaign

A balloon launch at the recent World Mental Health Day event. The balloons carried positive mental health messages encouraging recipients to talk about mental health and challenge stigma.
A balloon launch at the recent World Mental Health Day event. The balloons carried positive mental health messages encouraging recipients to talk about mental health and challenge stigma.

St Helens Council is in the running to win the top prize in a prestigious national awards programme that celebrates the most innovative and effective local authorities.

The council’s Time to Talk in St Helens campaign is among finalists from across the country in the Campaign of the Year category of the Local Government Chronicle Awards 2017.

The campaign focused on improving mental health by encouraging people to talk openly about it and by challenging mental health discrimination.

Councillor Jeanie Bell, 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, and many people do not talk about their issues and suffer in silence, so it’s certainly something that we as a community need to be proactive about.

“With this campaign, we look to dispel discrimination and stigmas related to mental health by encouraging people to talk about it and be more open about the problems they’ve experienced, and we had a great response from residents with many reaching out to get the right support.”

A main component of the campaign was achieving 10,000 minutes of mental health conversation. 100 Time to Talk champions – non-experts who attended the town hall launch event – were asked to have 10 minute mental health conversations with 10 others, whether family, friends or colleagues. The champions would then submit their conversations to be uploaded to a live map, showing where they took place.

The campaign opened up to residents and gained momentum, leading to more than 20,000 minutes of mental health conversation by local people. Significantly, a remarkable 546 social prescriptions, 441 signposts to local community groups for support and 123 referrals back to primary care for more specialist support were made as a result of the campaign over a 12 week period earlier this year.

With Time to Talk in St Helens the council and health partners creatively adapted for local use the national Time to Change project, led by MIND and Rethink Mental Illness.

Winners will be announced on March 8, 2017.

For more information on mental health and the local support available, visit www.sthelens.gov.uk/public-health-and-wellbeing.