Ben campaign hits the road

Mental health awareness initiative to tour towns and cities

The campaign includes a free helpline staffed by professional counsellors

STAFF and managers from Falkirk and Aberdeen will receive valuable advice on how to identify signs of mental illness and depression this month and next, thanks to licensed trade charity The Ben.

The first in a series of roadshows will take place at Falkirk venue Behind the Wall on October 16 as part of The Ben’s new #NotAlone mental health campaign. A second event will take place at Brewdog Castlegate in Aberdeen on November 13.

Last month the charity joined forces with its counterparts in England and Northern Ireland to provide members of the Scottish trade with access to a free helpline that is staffed by professional counsellors.

The next stage of the campaign will see a number of free-to-attend roadshows taking place in Scottish cities, where a counsellor will explain to attendees how they can identify signs that their staff or co-workers might be struggling with mental health issues and encourage them to contact the helpline.

The broader aim of the campaign – which will run throughout 2019 – is to help raise awareness of mental health and tackle the stigma surrounding it.

According to charity the Mental Health Foundation, an average of two people die every day in Scotland by suicide, and the Scottish Government said one in three people is estimated to be affected by mental illness in any one year.

Chris Gardner, chief executive of The Ben, said it is important mental health is regarded the same way as physical illness, with sufferers confident in seeking help if they feel they need it.

She said: “You can have your blinkers on. Sometimes you don’t want to see it. Or you deny seeing it. You tell yourself everything’s OK. And it’s not OK.

“The people on the helpline are trained counsellors. They really can help someone if they have the courage to phone the number.

“That’s the first step, and sometimes the first step is the most difficult one to take.”

The Falkirk and Aberdeen events are expected to be followed early next year by roadshows in cities including Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The #NotAlone helpline is 0800 9154610.