World Mental Health Awareness – Sunderland

Helen Clay – Last updated 3rd October 2013

World Mental Health Day is observed every year on the 10th October. This provides campaigners with the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of positive mental health and to challenge the stigma that many people with mental health issues experience.

This year, organisations across Sunderland are working in partnership to build on last year’s successful World Mental Health Week. The Sunderland Wellbeing Network wants to reach out to as many people as possible across the City, to break down the barriers around talking about mental wellbeing.

This year The Wellbeing Network will be setting up a stall to talk with local people in the following places throughout the week:

Monday 7th October in the Coalfields at the Gentoo Office, The Skyline Centre, 88 Newbottle Street Houghton le Spring DH4 4AJ from 10am—2pm

Tuesday 8th October in the North at Sunderland Carers Centre, Thompson Park, Thompson Road, Sunderland, SR5 1SF from 10am—2pm and at Sainsbury’s North from 3pm—7pm

Wednesday 9th October in the East enjoy a Walk for Wellbeing in Mowbray Park beginning at 2.30pm outside the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens

Thursday 10th October in Washington at Washington Mind, The Life House, Grasmere Terrace, Columbia, Washington, NE38 7LP from 10am-2pm

Friday 11th October in the West at The Sandhill Library, Grindon Lane, Sunderland, SR3 4EN from 10am—2pm

The government’s national strategy ‘No Health without Mental Health’ (published in 2011) aimed to prioritise mental health and wellbeing as a key priority. One of the key aims of the strategy was address how to improve the physical health of those who have a mental health issue. Health inequalities were cited with recognition of the impact of poor housing, unemployment, stigma and unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Last year the development worker for Sunderland Mental Health User Voice was involved in partnership work with the North of England Mental Health Development Unit, facilitating focus groups for people who directly access services to find out what the barriers are for people with mental health issues who want to improve their physical health. A training package was then developed which has been rolled out across Sunderland aiming to raise awareness amongst workers about various mental health conditions and the effect this can have upon physical health. For example some medications people are prescribed carry a high risk of weight gain.

The payment received by Sunderland Mental Health User Voice for their involvement in this work is being used to fund the ‘No Health Without Mental Health’ conference taking place on 9th October, which aims to further explore and raise awareness of how our mental health can affect our physical health. The conference also aims to explore and suggest ways of looking after our physical and mental health alike. There will be an information village at the conference offering information and advice about many issues relating to the effects of some lifestyle choices, as well as local organisations offering services which primarily focus on providing emotional support.

For more information about the conference, or any of the events taking place throughout Sunderland World Mental Health Week, please contact Washington Mind on 0191 4178043 or email

Helen Clay is a Mental Health Advocate for Mental Health Matters Sunderland Mental Health User Voice Service