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Suffolk Libraries relaunches Mental Health and Wellbeing Service

Written by · Published May 13, 2016

Suffolk Libraries are getting behind Mental Health Awareness Week next week with full force, hosting several different events across the county and celebrating a relaunch of their Mental Health and Wellbeing Information Service.

The newly named ‘New Chapters’ service can help residents of Suffolk find out about mental health and wellbeing organisations, services, local projects, events and specialist books to help support a whole range of mental health and wellbeing issues.

Coordinator, Sarah Lungley, says:

We want to raise awareness of our Mental Health and Wellbeing Service and there’s already been a significant increase in it, so we’re hoping relaunching the service will help that to continue. We’re really pleased to be able to get behind Mental Health Awareness Week, as it’s a great way to raise awareness of what support and advice is out there whilst helping to reduce stigma at the same time.

Several events will be running in libraries, one of which will be a tour of the Suffolk Family Carers bus on Thursday 19 May. It will visit Great Cornard Library from 9.30am-10.30am, Haverhill Library from 11.30am-1pm and Hadleigh Library at 2.30pm-3.30pm, to provide information about Suffolk Family Carers and other support which is available.

Ashley Bartlett, a Community Adviser & Support and Advocacy worker for Suffolk Family Carers Mental Health Team explains:

I am very pleased to be able to bring the bus to the libraries. The aim of the SFC Bus is to reach out to unpaid and unidentified family carers living throughout Suffolk and they can come onto our bus and register with us for support if they want to or I can advise them on various assessments. There is also information, respite, fun and friendship support for young carers aged 9 to 15, which we can refer young carers to.

The Open Space group in Ipswich Library (Wednesday 1-3pm), will be joined by Oz Osbourne from The Outsiders talking about his 12th Man project supporting men’s mental health. The Time To Change Reginal Coordinator, Maddi Cassell, will also be visiting the library and the Open Space group and will be available to chat to customers.

Maddi says:

Time to Change is a national lived-experience led campaign challenging mental health stigma and discrimination. We want to get the nation talking to each other about mental health, and what better place to do this than our amazing libraries? I will be available for tea and a chat if you want to find out more about how to get involved, how to run Time to Change events in your libraries and communities, or even become one of our lived-experience Champions.

Ipswich County Library will also be holding a wellbeing event on Friday 20 May from 10am-2pm, which will have stallholders from various organisations giving information on mental health and wellbeing, with free refreshments. Several other libraries are also displaying books around mental health and the Books on Prescription scheme.

Suffolk Libraries are also supporting Dementia Awareness Week, which coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week, with dedicated displays and an event at Broomhill Library in Ipswich on Thursday 19 May at 2pm. The event will consist of Sherrington House Care Home giving a talk about dementia, with crafts, cakes and books for sale. As part of the relaunch, New Chapters is also developing several new projects across Suffolk to support mental health and wellbeing:

  • The Open Space group in Ipswich library, with Julian Support and NSFT, is to be rolled out into at least three other libraries
  • Working with Ipswich hospital to pilot eReader devices in their psychiatric intensive care unit, to increase patient’s access to books as a relaxing and therapeutic tool
  • Supporting local Dementia Action Alliance groups and providing Dementia Friends training to library staff
  • Providing a network group for women who are survivors of Female Genital Mutilation, working with Suffolk Refugee Support
  • Piloting Mental Health First Aid training for library staff
  • Working with health providers to increase awareness and use of the Books on Prescription scheme, both for adults and young people.

Sarah Lungley added:

We’re really lucky to be able to offer such a diverse variety of activities and projects that stem from great partnerships in the community. Libraries are important for so many people for different reasons, and one of those is often somewhere safe and welcoming to be. One in four of us will experience a mental health problem each year and it’s really important we get people talking about it – We all have mental health, the same way we all have physical health and we all need to do our bit to support others and be kinder to ourselves.

If you would like further information on any of the projects or events mentioned, or are looking for advice on mental health and wellbeing, please contact New Chapters at mentalhealth@suffolklibraries.co.uk or visit their website, www.suffolklibraries.co.uk/newchapters.