5 ways your venue can do more for mental health

Posted on October 6, 2016 by Mickey Fellowes

Categories: General

Oslo Augusts 31
Oslo August 31st

The cinema can be a place to find escapism and solace when struggling with mental health. Mental health is sometimes harder to be aware of for venues than physical disability, but there are still ways to be considerate, welcoming and sensitive. To coincide with World Mental Health Day on 10 October, we spoke to Mickey Fellowes from HearFirst about how your venue can do more to consider the needs for people suffering with mental health issues, both audiences and staff members.

Mental health impacts on everybody. Mind say one in four will experience a mental health problem each year. One in four is not just our customers. This is us, our partners, our families, our friends and our colleagues.

It gets interesting this is not just a quarter of us. Because of course our mental health will also impact on our children, partners, friends and colleagues. A friend K told me he was the original germ free adolescent (reverence to punk band X-Ray Spex). He could never get the smell of bleach from his hands and his clothes from his mums OCD.

It’s not just about mental illness. Our delight in the beauty and value of life our mental well being will vary throughout our lives. Grief or relationship breakdown can leave us struggling to live our lives and do our jobs. Poor mental well being, festering, may lead to mental illness.

Cinema is for everyone. So how do we make our screens and organisations more welcoming for people with mental health issues? How do we promote mental well being?

Top five tips:

1. Are you prepared? Have you got a plan? Do you and your staff know what to do if a customer has a panic attack? Do you know what to do to support a staff member with depression or developing agoraphobia? Do you consult with experienced staff members and local mental health user groups?

2. Reduce stigma. We are frightened by what we do not understand. Awareness training and talking about it allows people to come out with a mental health issue. This reduces the stress and anxiety of living with a condition.

3. Respect that you don’t know. We have other jobs and lives. We may not have the lived experience of years with a mental health condition or spent thirteen years training as a psychiatrist. We are not required to be experts. Approach the situation with an open mind and open questions.

How can we help?

How can we make it easier for you?

Woman Under the Influence
A Woman Under the Influence

4. Be observant. Do you see changes in people you know? Changes in manner, mood and appearance? Don’t be afraid to ask them how they are feeling. Make time, in our often hectic working lives, to listen non-judgmentally. Often they will have spent hours criticising and castigating themselves.

I’ve got a great job and a supportive family I’ve no reason to feel depressed.

They don’t need us to add to it.

5. Seek professional help. We are not experts. If you are supporting someone encourage them to seek professional help. Be softly persistent and aware that in certain mental states they may not see the value of professional help. Encourage self-help, well being strategies such as reducing alcohol and drugs. Healthy eating, exercise and community engagement.

Mickey Fellowes is a senior tutor at the UK’s leading deaf/disability training organisation HearFirst Training and Consultancy. He has recently lead a highly successful programme of awareness training on behalf of the Independent Cinema Office and the British Deaf Association.

Mickey is an approved Instructor for Mental Health First Aid England and will be leading the internationally recognised two day Mental Health First Aid course on 28-29 November 2016 in Manchester. The course is ideal for anyone who is serious about making their screens and organisation more welcoming for people with mental health issues and promoting mental well being. Further details of the course and howto book a place are here.

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