FDAMH hosts mental health week

Sunday's funday will promote No Men Nevis 2: Men Too
Sunday's funday will promote No Men Nevis 2: Men Too

Singing in a choir to launch a popular Falkirk festival and performing in a drama in the heart of the town’s social scene.

Not activities you would normally associate with people who have struggled with poor mental health.

But this week is no ordinary week.

Starting today and running until Sunday, May 14, Falkirk and District Association for Mental Health (FDAMH) will host a series of events for Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW).

It will not only see FDAMH’s drama group and choir perform, it will also see the Kelpies turn teal and a huge family fun day being held at the Helix.

The week will be supported by fundraisers with challenges from staff at local branches of Marks and Spencer and the Bank of Scotland.

It is the first time the charity has held such a range of events in public places in support of the week.

Angela Price, FDAMH general manager, said: “Once again this year we have seen an increase in the demand for our services.

“With more and more people talking about mental health, we wanted to create an event which would bring people together and make them aware of the help available.

“One in 54 people in Falkirk have turned to FDAMH for support in the last year – and that’s only the people who are aware of the services we provide.

“It’s important for us to host events like this to encourage people to talk about their mental health and be more open about the way they are feeling.

“By breaking down stigma, we hope people will be more open and seek help before it gets to crisis stage.”

The local awareness week will kick off with Falkirk’s Kelpies turning teal for FDAMH. It is the first time the charity has been involved in changing the colour of the landmarks but it believes the much-loved structures will help spread its message.

On Tuesday and Thursday, FDAMH’s drama group will perform Being Frank.

Penned by the charity’s media group and local writer Katie White and performed by service users, Being Frank explores the effect of mental illness through the eyes of the person, their family and society.

First staged last year, it has since being tweaked and will now take to the stage at Macrobert in Stirling and Behind the Wall in Falkirk.

The performance kicks off with a Q&A from the performers who give an open account of what they have experienced.

After a performance in Stirling last month, the drama received positive reviews. One audience member thanked the cast for the education they provided, while another said it was a “fabulous way to lift taboo and spread understanding”.

On Saturday, May 13, FDAMH’s choir, Freedom of Mind, will perform in the Tryst Parade. The popular community event will start at the Steeple between noon and 2pm when the choir will perform feel-good songs.

The choir aims to improve physical, mental and emotional well-being through singing, while building skills in vocal technique, harmonising, composing and arranging.

The awareness week will also enjoy input from businesses.

Marks and Spencer staff will be getting themselves in a spin with a week-long, in-store spinathon.

Teams at the Howgate and Central Retail Park will be pedalling their hardest to earn donations for FDAMH as they cycle as far as John O’ Groats.

Grangemouth’s Bank of Scotland workers are keeping it local by baking and selling cakes on Friday and raising the charity’s profile with its customers.

But the whole week will culminate in a Sunday Funday on May 14 at the Helix from 11am to 3pm.

Families will find an inflatable assault course, an inflatable slide, giant Jenga and Connect Four and face painting.

The idea is to create an event suitable for the whole family, to encourage people to talk about and explore their mental health and help break down the stigma.

The day will also be used to promote No Men Nevis 2: Men Too. The fundraising hike of Britain’s highest mountain became FDAMH’s most successful event ever last year when it raised more than £67,000.

And it was all thanks to the 313 women who took part in the event in July 2016.

Now, the charity hopes a re-run can raise even more by involving men too on the first weekend in August.

For more information, visit www.fdamh.org.uk.