Taking care of the Mind

Celebrities admitting mental health problems are helping to break down the stigma associated with mental illness, say staff at Bassetlaw Mind.

But there is still some way to go, with 98 per cent of working people saying they would be worried about telling their boss if they were taking prescribed anti-depressants.

Volunteer coordinator Su Hallam said: “There is still a stigma attached to mental illness, but celebrities talking about it has helped.”

“One in four people will suffer from a mental health problem at some time in their lives and yet they are worried about telling their employer.”

“We are involved with local business and employers to try to help prevent people going off with stress.”

It is 35 years since Bassetlaw Association for Mental Health was set up. It became affilited to the national charity Mind in 1986.

Manager Liz Daniels, based at the group’s offices in Hardy Street, Worksop, said the need for its services is just as great now, if not greater, than it was back in 1977.

She said: “The current economic situation is causing problems for a lot of people.”

“We are seeing more people in their 50s and 60s. If someone has always worked and had a job and is then made redundant, it can be very difficult for them to adjust.”

She said they were also seeing a lot of younger people in the 18 to 25 age group and were working on prevention by going into schools and businesses to talk about mental health issues.

Centre coordinator Nicola Rea said: “We talk about various issues to do with mental health.”

“Some children who have parents with mental health issues can sometimes begin to display similar traits because it is learned behaviour.”

“We were talking about OCD once and one girl said she realised now that her gran had it. Talking about it improves people’s awareness.”

Su recruits, trains and places volunteers into appropriate roles.

She said: “We’ve got about 300 service users at the moment and we cover the whole of Bassetlaw, which is a huge area.”

“There are three towns, Worksop, Retford and Harworth, and 72 villages.”

“We work closely with other organisations and we have groups at the psychiatric Ward B2 at Bassetlaw Hospital, North Notts Arena, Retford library and Langold Community Centre.”

Service users are usually referred to Mind by their GP. If the charity can’t help them directly, they will signpost them to other organisations which can.

Mind holds various group sessions at Hardy Street, including a men-only group and a support group for carers.

Nicola said: “We find that men aren’t always as keen to speak in front of women so we have a group just for men, although they still have the option of joining a mixed group.”

“We also like to support carers because looking after someone else, whether they have a mental or physical disability, can cause mental health problems.”

Bassetlaw Mind has seven staff and 139 volunteers, but is always in need of more.

To volunteer, or to find out more about its services, call 476075 or go to www.bassetlawmind.org.

Related topics: