Mental health takes centre stage in Hastings

Last Friday, local mental health providers, people with experience of mental health challenges in Hastings and the surrounding areas and Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye, came together to discuss and promote why mental health matters.

The Mental Health Matters event, held at St Mary in the Castle, was hosted by Southdown and sponsored by Amber Rudd.   

Described by an attendee as ‘an important step to support collaborative working’, the event showcased local services and gave providers the opportunity to discuss how they could work together to best support local people. 

Delegates also listened to presentations on social prescribing, financial inclusion and specialist employment support for people with mental health challenges. In addition, a panel discussion, including Amber Rudd, representatives from the Department of Work and Pensions and Southdown’s Chief Executive, Neil Blanchard, took place to round the afternoon off.

Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings Rye, said, “I was delighted to hold my first event with Southdown to talk about mental health with residents and introduce them to expert local services. In Hastings we receive £600,000 of funding each year dedicated to improve mental health as part of the Opportunity Area programme, but I will continue to ensure our services are properly funded and my residents get the best support possible."

Neil Blanchard, Southdown’s Chief Executive, said: “At a time of increasing demand for mental health support, it has never been more vital for communities to work together to protect and deliver services that meet local people’s needs and helps improve their emotional health and wellbeing.

Thank you to everyone who came to the Mental Health Matters event.  It was great to be part of, and encourage, the conversation about how we - local authorities, the NHS, providers and people who access support - can collectively best support those affected by mental health challenges to get well, stay well and prevent crisis.”  

Local artist from Bexhill, Jess Levine, who has sought help for her mental health, and attended the event, added, "I’ve struggled with my mental health and periods of depression over the past 20 years.  It has been very isolating and affected everything. I have had good experiences of support and been frustrated with services. If you don’t know how to tap into the system, you can fall through the gaps.  It’s important to keep channels of communication open; an open dialogue can help to avoid tragedies.

"The recent support I’ve had from Southdown’s employment service has been outstanding. I’ve developed tools to value myself and have secured work, which is incredibly important for my wellbeing.”         

If you need support for your mental health, or know somebody who does, there is a wide range of mental health support available across East Sussex from a variety of providers. The East Sussex Mental Health Directory of Community Support and Southdown’s website are useful resources that signpost to mental health support available.