Festival to support Mental Health Week 2018 in Hackney


Eastern Curve entrance. Pic: Begum Whitehead

 “It is the most beautiful space. It epitomises wellbeing, when you come here it’s just so lovely,” says Rhiannon England, clinical lead for City and Hackney CCG.

She is talking about the Eastern Curve Garden, which hosted a special event for mental health awareness week, which finished today.

People gathered on Wednesday May 17 for MIND in Hackney’s annual festival of wellbeing to support mental health awareness week, which aimed to help people find ways to tackle mental health problems. 

The event was run by Mind in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest. The charity has been around since 1981 and provides lots of different services. They aim to empower people with experience of mental ill-health, developing wellbeing, resilience and recovery. The event is part of the City and Hackney Well Being Network, which is funded by Hackney Council.  

‘Take a Pause’ created a platform and environment to open up the discussion on mental health. According to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 450 million people currently suffer from mental health issues, placing them among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. 

Amy Byrne, marketing lead of Mind In The City, Hackney and Waltham forest. Pic: Begum Whitehead

Amy Byrne, Marketing Lead for Mind in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest said: “It’s incredibly important that we talk about mental health. One in four of us will experience a mental health problem; it’s something that most people can relate to.  

“As the world becomes ever more pressured with social media, it’s vital that we open conversations. The male suicide rate is the biggest killer for men under 45 in the UK, and that is because people don’t talk about it. Particularly for men there’s ideas about masculinity, I think it’s extremely important we talk about it.” 

Hackney local playing accordion. Pic: Begum Whitehead

The event had live music and tasty food. Local organisations including Hackney Herbal, Hackney Volunteer Centre, Shoreditch Trust, Green Gym & Derman came to support the worthy cause. 

Byrne said: “Events like this are a really nice accessible way to start the conversation about mental health and to make people realise that it is okay to talk about it.”  

Tom Rahilly (left), and Rhiannon England (right). Pic: Begum Whitehead

Councillor Tom Rahilly, Mental Health Campion for Hackney Council, also spoke about the relevance of events of like this. He said: “They are really important as part of a way to just to remind us of the different ways in which we can all support our own well being and mental health, as an individual and with others in our community. Its part of mental health awareness week, I think events like this are crucial.”  

Hackney can be seen as a deprived area but it has many wellbeing services put in place to help young people and adults. 

England said: “We’ve got a young population and if we don’t start with the young, were just going to end up with a bigger need as people get to adults. If you don’t prevent mental health, you’re just going to end up with a very mentally ill population.” 

Eastern Curve walkway. Pic: Begum Whitehead

The Eastern Curve Garden is located directly opposite Dalston Junction station and offers a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is free to enter and open seven days a week. The Garden was opened in 2010 and since 2012 it has been managed as a social enterprise. 

Rahilly also said: “It provides a bit of that serenity.” 

Man partaking in a mindfulness exercise. Pic: Begum Whitehead

People also had the opportunity to try out massage therapy, yoga, Tai Chi and practice mindfulness techniques.  

Byrne said: “Mindfulness is a practice that is all about being in the moment, whether it’s concentrating on your breath, whether it’s concentrating on the sounds around you, whether it’s concentrating on your body, it’s about being in the present moment.  

“It can be a really powerful tool in managing emotions. There is lots of scientific evidence that proves it actually changes the way your brain works, and that it can change your reaction to stress.” 

The conversation about mental health is one that needs more discussion. The King’s Fund and Centre for Mental Health estimate that between 12 and 18 per cent of NHS expenditure on the treatment and management of long-term conditions is linked to poor mental health and wellbeing. 

England said: “Mental health is still a bit of a taboo. I see as a GP that people find it much easier to talk about physical health issues. People will often come see me about physical health issues, when the real issue is there mental health, which they can’t talk about. Mental health feels as if it’s a thing that’s still behind physical health. 

“We need to remind ourselves exactly about how you have to work on your happiness, just like you have to work about getting fit. People get physically fit but we’ve got to start thinking how do we stay emotionally well? We’ve all got to work on it. 

Rahilly went on to say: “It needs to be something that we all actively work on. Just raising the awareness is something that we should be doing.” 

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