Jul 20 2011 by Gregor White, Stirling Observer Wednesday
STAFF and users of a Stirling-based mental health charity recently headed to the Scottish Parliament for the launch of the latest phase of an innovative awareness-raising project.
Action in Mind is one of five groups selected to take part in the parliament’s Community Partnerships Project, which will see the group working with Holyrood staff to shape and deliver two distinct campaigns they hope will bring about real change.
The project aims to increase the visibility and effectiveness of previously under-represented groups within the parliament.
Action in Mind executive director Helena Scott said: “This is a unique opportunity for us to work directly with elected members and to increase their understanding of mental health, but also for them to hear first hand the voices of people affected directly by mental-ill health.”
Working Well is the group’s effort to highlight the need for employers to integrate people with mental health conditions into the workforce, through increasing awareness and understanding of mental health.
Their Mind Over Age campaign is aimed at health and social care workers within NHS Forth Valley and Stirling Council, as well as older people’s groups and associations.
Here they are seeking to highlight the key issues facing older people in accessing mental health support services, and tackling age discrimination.
Throughout the course of both campaigns Scottish Parliament staff will be available to assist, for example advising on meeting MSPs, giving evidence to one of the parliament's committees or submitting a petition.
Action in Mind mental health champions Michel Syrett and Suzy Johnston Syrett, who both have bipolar disorder, said: “Both campaigns we are undertaking as part of the Scottish Parliament's Community Partnership Project are designed to provide people with mental health problems with vital support that will aid their recovery.
“As we are both in recovery ourselves, we are delighted to be playing a key role in helping others with problems that are all too familiar in our own lives.”
And service user Louise Higgins added: “Working in partnership with the Scottish Parliament provides an opportunity to bring about positive change which can improve the lives of people with mental illness.
“From the service users’ perspective, this project addresses issues which are important to those developing, experiencing and recovering from mental ill health.
“This is an exciting new development which has the potential to give a voice to an often overlooked and stigmatised part of society.’’