Social Work student’s conference proved the right time to talk about mental health

Date 2.02.2018

A Social Work student developed some new skill muscles as she organised a public conference about mental health during a national awareness raising day.

Michelle Frederick, who is in her final year of the Ba (hons) course, took the lead in organising the event ‘Stigma and Discrimination in Mental Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach – A Common Vision’ on the same day as the ‘Time to Talk’ campaign, run by the charity Time to Change.

Time to Change are working to end mental health discrimination by changing how we think and act about it. Yesterday’s campaign was about getting people to open up and start talking if they are worried about their mental health.

The conference, open to staff, students and the general public, saw professionals from teaching, criminal justice and the police talk about the interventions they use to help reduce negative perceptions of people with mental health issues.

These included Anne Head from the Wellbeing Team at Northampton Academy who detailed the work carried out there to help identify and help young people with mental health concerns and what measures other schools can take in this area.

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Robin Sturman-Coombs, Senior Social Work Lecturer at University of Northampton and Anne Head from the Wellbeing Team at Northampton academy during the conference.

People who have experienced mental health issues also spoke from a personal perspective about being prejudiced against because of their condition.

Commenting on the challenge of designing and delivering the event, Michelle said: “The conference provided me with focus and a challenge while on my placement and developed my communication skills within a multidisciplinary arena.

“Mental health charity MIND enabled me to do this and also my lecturers Robin Sturman-Coombs and Scott Parker. The input and assistance I received from both of them was invaluable. They have supported me throughout my three years and enabled me to begin to reach my full potential at a professional level.”

Robin Sturman-Coombs, Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Northampton said: “The #TimeToTalk day was all about kick-starting that all important first conversation for people who think they have a mental health issue and to open up to friend, family or professionals.

“Well done to Michelle for organising a packed and thoroughly informative conference for our students, mental health service users and interested others about highlighting and hopefully reducing the stigma and discrimination about mental health.”

See our website for more about the Social Work course at University of Northampton.

For more about Time to Talk, see their website.