It was full house for coffee drinkers on Sunday at Women4Welfare’s annual coffee morning, hosted by Gabrielle Hurwitz, Dianne Lyons, Angie Shulman and Philippa Lester.
Over the years, the small group of women have raised many thousands of pounds for Leeds Jewish Welfare Board’s mental health services and the
Board’s chief executive Liz Bradbury attended the event by focussing her speech on the work LJWB does in the community for those who have mental health issues.
Ms Bradbury challenged anyone or their family members who hadn’t at some time been affected personally by mental health problems and depression either from the loss of a loved one or other personal matters.
“That is what mental health is all about, it’s about keeping well in mind as well as body,” she said.
Men were reluctant to acknowledge their health issues until they reached crisis point, she said. Many referrals the Board receives currently involve men who are more unlikely than women to consult their GP for help.
She advised it was essential to be proactive about such issues, but many men found it difficult to share their problems, trying to remain strong and silent rather than reach out for support when it is needed.
To offer help, as well as reducing the stigma, the Board has created a support network group for men, currently with about ten men who meet in a pub, or restaurant and who talk in a non-work environment about issues that affect them. The group is continually expanding.
Liz explained: “Quite often it’s easier to talk to someone you don’t know. This will enable them to open up and feel confident to share their experiences, and ultimately restore their confidence, self-esteem and mental well-being.”
The Arnie and Essie Confidential Helpline and the newly launched Listening Line for support for men and women of all ages, were also proving beneficial to the community, dealing with social isolation and people concerned about their health or other issues. “We have qualified people manning these lines who offer help or just a friendly chat in complete confidentiality. We want our service users to know they are not alone. We are there to help.”
Because not all wounds are visible the Board has introduced two Mental Health First Aid Courses, suitable for those aged 18-plus, which teaches how to spot the early signs of a mental health problem as well as explaining what mental health actually means, in a one-day or two-day course.
The course also covers other areas including eating disorders, self harm and depression and offers a wider understanding of the issues surrounding mental health, while reducing the stigma and discrimination often associated with the condition.
At the end of the course people will become a certified mental health first-aider and receive a certificate and manual.
Contact Paul Townend 0113 268 4211 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for booking and further details.
Openers were Wendy and Howard Bott, guests of honour were Jennifer and Ian Sillers and child presenters were Louis and Lily Baker. The event was held at the home of Dianne and John Lyons.
Photo: Dianne Lyons, Gabrielle Hurwitz, Liz Bradbury, Angie Shulman and Philippa Lester.
Words by John Fisher