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Festival to highlight mental health

DEBATE NEEDED: Sandra Griffiths, director of Mellow, wants to get black communities talking about mental health

PROMOTING POSITIVE mental health is to be the focus of a special two-day event in east London this weekend.

The Stereo-Hype Festival 2013 at Stratford Circus, a free two-day festival of music, film, drama, comedy and wellbeing workshops will celebrate the strengths and achievements of African-Caribbeans who are living with mental health problems.

DISCRIMINATION

Hosted by Time to Change - England’s biggest programme to end discrimination faced by people with mental health issues and Mellow, which provides mental health services to people in Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham - the event is aiming to encourage black communities to talk openly about mental health and challenge prejudices that surround the issue.

According to recent Time to Change research, nine out of 10 people with mental health problems face stigma and discrimination as a result. The research also found that around two thirds of people questioned said that this stigma could be as bad as or worse than the symptoms of the illness itself and that it prevented them from talking about it or seeking help.

The Stereo-Hype Festival will use a technique called 'social contact' where 50 volunteers made up of mental health service users (black and white), will be trained to have dialogue with guests about their experience with mental illness in an informal manner throughout the event.

STIGMA

Sue Baker, director of Time to Change, said: “By working with Mellow on this fun and engaging event which is already popular with the community, we hope to bring people with and without mental health problems together to get new conversations started about mental health. We know this really helps to tackle stigma and misunderstanding around the issue. Our work has a focus on African Caribbean communities and we hope this event will encourage more people with mental health problems from the community to get more actively involved with the campaign."

Among those appearing at the festival will be Chelsea's first black footballer Paul Canoville and acclaimed boxer Herol ‘Bomber' Graham as part of the Black Men on the Couch workshops as well as award winning poet and writer Malika Booker.

Sandra Griffiths, director of Mellow, said: “Many black people with mental health problems live in the community. The current debate needs to go beyond the question of why there are so many black people in the system and address the support systems for those who already live in the community or who are released from hospital without a safety net.”

The Stereo-Hype Festival will take place at Stratford Circus on January 25-26. For further details please visit: www.time-to-change.org.uk/stereohype. Twitter handle: StereoHype2013.

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