A COMMUNITY leader is hoping to 'champion' mental health within her community after raising awareness of the 'hidden' illness to fellow councillors. Cheadle Town councillor Elizabeth Whitehouse invited Stoke-on-Trent city councillor Lilian Dodd to a recent meeting of Cheadle Town Council where cllr Dodd spoke of her role in taking up the 'Mental Health Challenge' at the city council. In her presentation she said: “I have been a Mental Health Champion for the city since 2018.
“The biggest challenge I have found is realising the amount of children who have mental health problems.
“I find it quite sad when I witness four and five year olds having mental health problems and schools not being able to deal with them well.”
Cllr Dodd explained that, in her role, she goes out to many groups and organisations across the city to give guidance about where people should go if they have mental health issues.
She said: “I try to give as much information out as possible, guiding people where to go if they have a problem, and who they should talk to.
“I am not mental health trained but will be going on a mental health first aid course and will be aiming at making that mandatory for any new city councillors so we know what to look out for.
“I am trying to get rid of the stigma of mental health and am going into schools and churches to get people to talk about it and to share resources.”
Cllr Dodd further explained that she goes out to the different wards within the city to also look at reducing isolation and is working with a number of organisations to tackle mental health issues.
She said: “It’s about talking to people and fostering a working relationship.
“I also aim to have a mental health champion in each department in the city council.
“There is no financial cost to be a part of the mental health challenge.
“It’s no small role but it is well worth the hard work.”
After cllr Dodd concluded her presentation, Cheadle Town councillor Elizabeth Whitehouse thanked her for attending and for speaking at the meeting. She added: “We really hope we can work together.”
Fellow Cheadle Town councillors agreed that more should be done to help those with mental health issues.
Cllr Stephen Ellis said: “It’s very much a silent killer – not very visible to people.
“We certainly haven’t got enough resources. There is so much more work needs to be done.”
Cllr Ron Locker added: “Mental health is one of the biggest issues we have in this nation, and it’s a disgrace how it has been handled.
“We have a hospital in Cheadle which is two thirds empty – it’s all to do with money.”
After the Cheadle Town Council meeting, cllr Whitehouse told the Times & Echo that she hopes to take on a ‘mental health champion’ role in the town.
She said: “I invited cllr Dodd to our town council meeting with a view of raising awareness of mental health.
“She is obviously a very passionate lady who is committed to her role.
“I thought it would be good for our council to hear about the role she plays at the city council.
“I would be keen to take on a ‘mental health champion’ role but have not yet put my name forward for this with the council.
“It’s about getting out in the community and getting rid of the stigma of mental health.
“I hope that we, as a community, can break that stigma.
“I have lots of ideas of how we can do this, such as having walk-in events where people can just come and talk to us.”
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