Award for Institute of Health community mental health festival

Award for Institute of Health community mental health festival

A UNIVERSITY of Cumbria event raising awareness and providing support for mental health and wellbeing has won a major award.

The Festival of Mental Health is among the winners of the 2020 Educate North awards.

The awards celebrate, recognise and share best practice and excellence in the education sector across northern England.

Winners have been announced during a specially streamed event. Original plans for an in-person awards ceremony were disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Winning the community engagement (university) award, the Festival of Mental Health is led by the nursing team within the university’s Institute of Health.

It is a celebration of wellbeing and offers help and support to all through its array of workshops including gardening, mindfulness, yoga and creative arts. There is also an art festival, talks, and a ‘marketplace’ of local charities, organisations and institutions.

Raising funds for local charities, the festival’s patron is Wigton-born author, broadcaster and peer Melvyn Bragg, who is an honorary fellow of the university and a past president of the national charity Mind.

Coinciding with World Mental Health Day every October, the Festival of Mental Health strengthens the University of Cumbria’s role as a leading training provider of nursing and other health professionals across the region and beyond.

Volunteers at the festival have included students of the university.

Two of the mental health nursing lecturers within the university’s Institute of Health, Steve McCarthy-Grunwald and Charlotte Pearce, have developed the festival in collaboration with local partners.

Charlotte said: “The Festival of Mental Health has proved itself to be of regional significance. We have to thank our student volunteers, the public and all the local charities and agencies, artists and schools who gave up their time to join us for this event. It’s all about raising awareness and finding practical tools to wellbeing, creatively and socially, and building inclusive and mentally healthy communities. As an institute we are thrilled and as a nursing team spearheading this event, we are proud of our recognised achievement.”

A registered mental health nurse himself, Professor Brian Webster-Henderson, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Health, Environment & Innovation), said: “Congratulations must go to our mental health nursing team. We are thrilled and proud to see this truly impactful festival receive recognition for its community engagement and involvement.

“Caring for our mental health and wellbeing is so important to us all, now more than ever as society copes with the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic. This festival raises awareness of the impact poor mental health can have on people’s lives and provides a network of practical help and support to resolve issues that arise from it. Importantly, it also shares ideas, activities and methods we can all look to adopt to nurture and care for ourselves and others’ wellbeing.

“It is a shining example of how as a University we work collaboratively with partners to develop and strengthen skills, expertise and relationships across our region, supporting individuals and our communities to thrive.”