World Mental Health Day event in Doncaster helped to get people to speak up about mental illness

The Frenchgate shopping centre in Doncaster teamed up with charity Mind to raise awareness on World Mental Health Day.

Thursday, 10th October 2019, 4:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 12:20 pm
World Mental Health Day event.

An area was created outside Boots where people were able to speak about mental health with professionals.

There was a happiness garden with birdsong, a colouring station and a quiet “head shed” area where people could go for private conversations.

Jenny Hall, a wellbeing worker for Mind, said: “We’ve been approached today by people who would never come into our centre because they think mental health is a weakness.

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World Mental Health day event.

“But everyone is affected by mental health - one in four people will suffer a mental illness in their lifetime.

“We’re hoping that today will encourage people to speak up.”

Passers-by were encouraged to write positive messages onto an umbrella, and there was even a support dog on site.

“This is about your wellbeing not just mental illness,” Jenny added.

"Head shed" at event

“People should enjoy the silly moments of life.”

During the event Jenny interacted with many people in the shopping centre including a lady in crisis who was given support on the spot by the charity.

This event continued the Frenchgate’s Happiness movement which has been running through 2019.

Karen Stainforth, the mall's assistant manager, said: “Loads of people have got involved in the project.

“We voted for the happiest store - which was the Fragrance Shop - and have tips around the centre about how to be happy.”

The Frenchgate also has an app allowing users to send someone a thoughtful postcard to brighten their day.

“The staff here play a really important community role - they might be the only contact that someone has during the day," said Karen.

“You have no idea what people are carrying around with them. We think it’s important to give something back to the community.”

The Frenchgate is hoping to work with Mind further by training staff in mental health awareness.

Mind has a centre on Princes Street in Doncaster town centre. Sessions are on Mondays and Fridays from 12pm to 2pm, and on Thursdays from 5pm to 8pm.