World Mental Health Day – ‘Breaking the Taboo – Living with Schizophrenia’

By Helen Clay – Sunderland Mental Health User Voice

On 8th October 2014 we celebrated World Mental Health Day in Sunderland by hosting a conference called ‘Breaking the Taboo – Living with Schizophrenia’. This was a very successful event organised by partner organisations across Sunderland.

The theme of the event also addressed employment and living with a long term enduring mental health issue. Speakers included Dr. Andrew Cole (Consultant Psychiatrist – Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Mental Health Trust), Angela Slater (Regional Coordinator of ‘Time to Change’) who spoke about tackling stigma and discrimination, Lisa Hall (Communications Officer) and Norman Hildrew (Carer – Sunderland Carers Centre) who presented a carers perspective and Kathy McKenna (Training Manager – Washington Mind) who explained Mental Health First Aid and the importance of increasing understanding in the workplace.

Many people commented that the most moving speaker’s contributions were from Val Binns (Sunderland Mental Health User Voice) and Paul Allison (Headlight) who spoke about their lived experiences in relation to mental health issues and employment.

A big thank you to all who attended the conference, particularly to Val and Paul for being brave enough to share their experiences, so that people can learn and reflect on how barriers can continue to be addressed and overcome.