This Mental Health Awareness Day (Thursday 10th October) we’re supporting intu Metrocentre and intu Eldon Square who are launching ‘Chatty Chairs’ in the hope to increase mental health awareness and reduce loneliness amongst its shoppers.
Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem such as anxiety and depression in any given week.
With the support of ourselves alongside Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, Age UK Gateshead, The Samaritans of Tyneside and backed by BBC Radio Newcastle’s Anna Foster, both shopping centres will turn designated seating areas on the malls into ‘Chatty Chairs’ for visitors to sit down and have a natter with one another.
Tyneside and Northumberland Mind will also have one of their counsellor’s on hand at both centres between 1pm-4pm on the day acting as a listening ear and signposting members of the public to relevant services for their needs.
Alex Wilson, Chief Executive Officer at Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, said: “Feeling lonely can have a negative impact on your mental health. Research suggests that loneliness is associated with an increased risk of certain mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, sleep problems and increased stress.
“The Chatty Chairs will encourage visitors to have a chit chat and will also provide information on the charity and how we can support anyone suffering from mental health.”
Julie Latimer, at Age UK Gateshead, said: “Social isolation is a huge problem for older people and 3.6 million older people in the UK live alone. If you do see someone at the chairs, please stop and have a little chat – you might be the only person that person has spoken to all day. And who knows, you might make a friend!”
Theresa Nixon, director at The Samaritans of Tyneside said: "For someone struggling with loneliness or any of the challenges mental health can bring, a smile from a stranger or taking the time to chat can make all the difference.”
Neighbourhood Inspector Harninder Bola, from Northumbria Police, said: “It is fantastic to see more and more people talking about mental health and raising awareness around it. We’re delighted to be part of this initiative and supporting intu, especially in support of World Mental Health Day. We need to make sure the conversation around mental health continues and that the stigma surrounding it continues to be broken down. We all have a responsibility to look out for one another’s mental health and it is crucial that we demonstrate we’re here to listen, support and help those who need it most.”
Anna Foster, presenter at BBC Radio Newcastle, said: “In 2016 I had the most terrifying experience of my life, I woke up on 1st November consumed by suicidal thoughts. After years of secretly battling OCD, intrusive thoughts and crippling anxiety and not being open, getting therapy or sharing I finally came to my crisis. I was forced to talk, be open and share and it literally saved my life, talking is practical, you can learn ways to get better, learn you are not alone and learn that no matter how you feel there is always hope. I really hope chatty chairs encourage people to talk..... it’s life changing for the better.”
Clare Cannon, community manager at intu Metrocentre and intu Eldon Square, added: “With the support of three local charities plus Northumbria Police we hope the Chatty Chairs will encourage lots of conversations amongst our visitors and offer a little help and support to those who might need it.”
Look out for intu’s Chatty Chairs located in the lower Platinum Mall at intu Metrocentre and in St. Andrew’s Way at intu Eldon Square on Thursday 10th October as well as leaflets on all partners, branded Mind tea bags and colouring books to enjoy on the day.