PEOPLE in York took time out to help get people talking on World Mental Health Day.

Time to Change (TC) is a growing movement of people changing how people think and act about mental health problems and a host of champions took to the city streets today (Thursday, October 10) to tackle the stigma around mental health.

Throughout the day, they have been going to café’s, restaurants, bars, community organisations and venues across the city to talk about Time to Change. They have been delivering coasters and spreading the word about the support available in York.

City of York Council is supporting a local Time to Change hub in the city. Today volunteers visited café’s restaurants and bars in the city as well as spoken to people at KYRA women’s project – a support centre for women and jobcentre plus.

Earlier this week the city showed its support for Every Mind Matters, a Public Health England and NHS campaign which provides simple and practical advice to follow in order to improve mental health and deal with challenges like stress, low mood, anxiety and trouble sleeping.

Councillor Carol Runciman, executive member for health and adult social care said: “It was a privilege to meet the volunteers before they made themselves known all over York today.

“It is really important that we talk about mental health and understand that support is available for people who are struggling. I would like to thank the Time to Change champions who volunteered their time to raise awareness and all those who welcomed and spoke to them today.

“This year, the theme of World Mental Health Day is suicide prevention. Events like today will make a real difference in getting more and more people thinking and talking about mental health.”

Emma Williams, Time to Change York Co-ordinator who was one of seven Time to Change Champions in York today said: “We have had a fantastic day visiting various venues to hand out our bespoke Time to Change York "no one should feel ashamed to talk about mental health" coasters...look out for them in your local cafe and restaurant, or Tweet us @TtcYork / email to request some.

“We encourage everyone to help us to spread the message that mental health stigma and discrimination needs to end.”

Meanwhile all pupils at Robert Wilkinson Primary Academy now have regular timetabled access to a safe, controlled environment called the HUB, which stands for Helping Us Belong.

The school held a special assembly on the theme of it’s OK not to feel OK and were encouraged to wear yellow instead of school uniform to reflect the national message. Clips from TV show Britain’s Got Talent, which addressed mental health and emotional wellbeing, were played to the children as part of the presentation.

Rebecca McGuinn, lead for safeguarding, personal development, behaviour and welfare at Ebor Academy Trust, which operates the Strensall school, said: “We fully endorse the campaign messages that everyone needs to talk about how they feel and it’s important too for children, so they can see how they fit into the wider community and the world. Pupils now know what mental health means and what it looks like – now we’re learning what to do about it.

“We have a wellbeing team of four members – Becky Fleming, Ruth Greaves, Louise Clixby and Jo Wilson – and they’re linked to every year group, helping children increase their emotional resilience and supporting positive wellbeing.

“This is so important for our children and their future.”

A focus on monitoring wellbeing at school has shown to decrease negative behaviour. Three-quarters of the 24 schools in Ebor Academy Trust have wellbeing HUBs and it is the trust’s aspiration for there to be one in each school eventually.

The wellbeing plans have been positively received by parents and carers and there is to be an opens doors event soon for them to call in and see the HUB.

Elsewhere in the county, two North Yorkshire outdoor enthusiasts just finished a gruelling 109 mile walk of the Cleveland Way to raise awareness and funds for a mental health charity. 

Ben Potter and Simon Whitehead, supporters of the North Yorkshire Moors Moorland Organisation (NYMMO) ‘Walked and Talked’ the route in just under three days.

York Press:

Ben and Simon pictured with Lena and Tawny

Internationally renowned falconer Ben Potter (Birds of Prey Displays) walked the whole 109 miles accompanied by his pet dog Lena and was accompanied for large stretches by ferreting expert and journalist, Simon Whitehead (Pakefield Ferrets) and his dog Tawny. The back up support was provided by John Cavana also of NYMMO.

There are a number of fantastic charities out there supporting mental health, and for this particular venture the group chose YANA, “You Are Not Alone” which offers help for those in farming who may be affected by stress and depression. Total raised so far stands at £1,340 with the Virgin Money giving-page remaining open for the next two months.  

John Cavana of NYMMO, said: “Ben and Simon (pictured below on the trek) have braved the elements, experiencing four seasons in one day, as they have battled through a combination of exhilaration and exhaustion along the way. They have done a fantastic job to help raise awareness for mental health as this is one of the hardest things they have put themselves through – it has certainly tested their endurance and mindset.

“It’s been a brotherhood of friendship throughout the journey –  I have offered them warm drinks, a bed at night and a lot of deep heat and moral support, and some friends have also come out at various stages of the route to walk a few miles for encouragement.”

York Press:

Tina Brough, coordinator of NYMMO, said: “The walk, completed by Ben and Simon is a great example of spending time together and to highlight the importance of listening and talking each and every day.

“Mental health issues can affect anyone, and mental health wellbeing is so important. It’s time to lose the stigma behind mental health. Mental health is especially noticeable in the farming and gamekeeping community where many lonesome days are spent out on the hills. Outdoor activities are great for mental health, wellbeing and health in general, it’s good to talk and equally important to know that there is always someone out there who will listen.”