“Those who feel the breath of sadness… sit down next to me.”
This line from the anthemic song Sit Down by the Manchester band James stuck with me growing up. It seemed a kind of recognition that while people can feel sad and struggle, there are others here to support them.
The focus for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is stress, and what we can do to recognise and address it.
Stress can have serious implications. According to a survey commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation carried out over the past year, a shocking 74% of respondents said that they have at times been so stressed that they have felt overwhelmed and unable to cope.
There are a number of organisations in the city which are here to support you. And these are places where anyone is welcome, whether you have a mental health condition or just want to take some structured steps towards improved mental wellbeing.
The Zion Centre
A resource centre based on Stretford Road in Hulme which has been helping the people of Manchester since 1991. Here you will find resources from a number of organisations as well as workshops and activity classes. It is a base for Anxiety UK, as well a series of Self Help Services, SHARE (Self Harm Awareness & Recovery for Everyone) plus alternative classes such as homeopathy and energy healing. Have a bite to eat in the healthy Good Mood Food Café, and you can even keep fit too as there’s a brilliant outdoor urban gym. Great for stress-busting.
Although you may think The Samaritans is just a phone-in support service, you can also call into the office on Oxford Street for a confidential chat with one of the team. It is open from 8.30am until 8.30pm every day providing someone to talk to about your feelings and troubles, no matter how big or small. You can also call the local number (0161) 236 8000 or the free 116 123 to speak on the phone.
The Chatty Café at Manchester Art Gallery
The Manchester Art Gallery café hosts a special Chatter & Natter table designed to bring people together through conversation. You are invited to sit down at the table and start up a chat with somebody new. It’s a great way of promoting positivity and tackling one of the growing issues in society – loneliness. Simply look out for the Chatter & Natter sign on the allocated table and get involved. Part of the wider Chatty Café scheme, the sign will be out 10am – 12pm and 3pm – 5pm on weekdays during term time only.
This local young people’s mental health charity has provided confidential and free support to the people of Manchester for nearly 40 years. It seeks to support the emotional wellbeing and mental health of people aged 11-25 with inclusive, accessible services to suit the individual. From a Dealing with the Depression and Anxiety group, to a project on loneliness and the opportunity to become a peer ambassador, there is plenty to get involved with.
The Horsfall is a creative space for young people in the former Ancoats Art Museum which encourages well-being through interaction with art, nature and creativity with a number of free workshops, exhibitions and events. Keep updated with their activities online. Poet-in-residence Louise Wallwein has also created a poem When It All Gets On Top for Mental Health Awareness Week which will premiere on Friday 18th May.