Merthyr unites in support of mental health

Safya Khan-Ruf - 09 05 17

Key community partners in Merthyr Tydfil are banding together to raise awareness about mental health, coalescing in a weekend of action on 24-25 June.

GPs, teachers, care workers, homeless charities and local fitness groups are working with HOPE not hate to address the deep health inequalities found in post-industrial communities. The health initiative was launched as part of a pilot programme in certain targeted communities.

The weekend of action will be the first of many events, according to Harriet Protheroe-Davis, community organiser for HOPE not hate in Merthyr Tydfill.

“We are coming together as a community to pool our differing resources and experiences to tackle the issue of mental health,” she says. “We are experts on our own community needs so it is us who are perfect to change it.”

The weekend will include a collection of artists sharing their craft such as song writing, music recording and landscape drawing. There will also be ecotherapy sessions in the natural environment and a marathon organised by Inspire Fitness.

Inspire Fitness will organise the marathon, Courtesy of Harriet Protheroe-Davis

Postnatal depression and the large proportion of elderly living in Merthyr Tydfill are two of the issues with which the town is struggling. Occupational therapists have volunteered to give workshops on prenatal care and living well in old age as part of the project.

There is a clear but complex link between poverty and poor health, said Clare Bambra from the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University, during a HOPE not hate conference in March examining the future of post-industrial communities. HOPE not hate is funding initiatives that can help communities create positive change: a main target is improving health.

Local arts group Aber Arts UK will teach song writing and recording. Courtesy of Harriet Protheroe-Davis

Protheroe-Davis says the aim of the first event is merely to raise awareness of the issue. The group of organisers are planning to launch a website that will connect all the community actors in one place and allow people to easily access different kinds of help.

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