Mini-Conference 2015

60+ people representing different faith communities

and voluntary and statutory organisations came to the St. Cedds Hall of Chelmsford Cathedral on Tuesday 19th May 2015 to hear of progress made by Essex Mind and Spirit (EMS) since their County Conference in April 2013 held in Chelmsford Cathedral called “Tackling Mental Health Issues in a Multi Faith Context”.

Presentations were made by Raza Ahmed and Saira Ejaz who both reported that the conference in 2013 had helped and encouraged them to develop work to bring mental health issues and awareness more into the public sphere.

Raza, who works for the North Essex Partnership Foundation Trust (NEPFT) reported on the development to work with Trust partners and employees to raise the profile of mental health issues and to promote compassion and understanding in the workplace and amongst employees. His colleague Steve Kent talked about a specific project with the Coop where a mental health charter has been agreed to help and support employees experiencing mental health challenges.

Saira who works as an Education Officer for the UK Supreme Court was so inspired by the conference and the workshop she had attended with Raza that she went on to institute an agreement at the Court in London for mental health issues and awareness to be a core part of the care and nurture of all those working at the Supreme Court, including dietary advice, symptoms to watch out for, the provision of healthy walks and so on. One of the keynote speakers at the conference was Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, and after the conference Saira worked with Sue to become a Time to Change ambassador.

Their presentations are available to view here:

The mini conference was also able to report progress made on two recommendations made at the Country Conference in April 2013:

  • (i) A brand new website which was displayed and explained;
  • (ii) The initial findings from a ‘Mapping Project’ which has been undertaken by EMS (and funded by Awards For All) as a result of requests made at the 2013 conference for comprehensive information about ‘what’s out there’ in Essex in terms of conversation and cooperation between faith groups and voluntary and statutory agencies with regard to the understanding and management of mental health issues. Bill Coomber the project lead reported that, thanks to research carried out by the distribution and dissemination of a questionnaire, so far some 96 different projects had been identified around Essex, which also indicated geographical gaps where the research had not uncovered any evidence of faith and community provision for mental health needs and care.

Soon the final report will be produced and published, and it is very much hoped that it will prove a useful tool, not only to highlight good practice going on in the County (and Bill in his presentation highlighted six from the four EMS Cluster Group Areas which had come to light as a result of the research), but as a stimulus to encourage further dialogue and cooperation between faith and spirituality and the voluntary and statutory sectors. Watch this space!

Mental Health Access packs: