Packed programme for Worthing Mental Health Awareness Week

Last year's launch of Worthing Mental Health Awareness Week at Offington Park Methodist Church. Picture: Kate Shemilt ks180492-1
Last year's launch of Worthing Mental Health Awareness Week at Offington Park Methodist Church. Picture: Kate Shemilt ks180492-1

The programme for the seventh annual Worthing Mental Health Awareness Week has been revealed, with the aim of building understanding and sharing hope.

The annual awareness week was launched in 2013 by Carol Barber and Bob Smytherman to provide a safe environment in which good quality information can be made available and the stigma around mental health can be challenged.

This year’s events will run at Offington Park Methodist Church, in South Farm Road, Worthing, from Monday, October 7, to Saturday, October 12.

Bob said: “It’s hard to believe that this year will be the seventh annual Worthing Mental Health Awareness Week, which started during my year as mayor of Worthing.

“It’s now very much a feature of the town’s events which gets bigger and bigger every year. Once again, the week will conclude with a rousing concert in aid of local charity Coastal West Sussex Mind, featuring local artists and the popular singalong with Broadwater Community Choir.”

One important part of the week will be celebrating Worthing Samaritans’ 50 years of service in the town.

Carol said: “It’s difficult to put into words just how important the Samaritans are, to know there is always someone just a phone call away who will give you undivided attention, will listen to whatever is going on for you, is the most amazing and reassuring thing.

“Worthing Samaritans have supported WMHAW since its beginning in 2013. We are absolutely delighted that the Samaritans will be on hand throughout the week. They are able to offer some face-to-face time at Offington Park church, just as they do at their offices in Lennox Road.

“They will also be giving a talk on Thursday, October 10, World Mental Health Day, at Offington Park church to explain more about the services they offer.”

Charities, organisations and groups will have displays in the church, which forms the information centre for the week, and there will be a variety of workshops and talks designed to promote mental health throughout the week. Most events are free and open to all.

Monday, October 7, will see the offical launch at 10am, with Worthing mayor Hazel Thorpe and the mayor’s chaplain the Rev Dawn Carn lighting a peace candle, and Bob acting as master of ceremonies.

The key note presentation this year will be a Safe In Sussex talk at 10.45am about the ways in which the charity supports people in abusive situations.

The National Tremor Foundation will follow after lunch with a talk at 1.30pm about the impact physical health has on mental wellbeing.

Then from 7pm to 9pm, there will be a special meeting of Worthing Rethink Mental Health Carers, run by Mark Hughes, with guest speaker Dr Rick Fraser from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, giving a talk about the process psychiatrists use to arrive at a working diagnosis.

Tuesday, October 8, will focus on keeping well in later life, including an opportunity to become a Dementia Friend. There will be a pop-up dementia cafe from 2.15pm, followed by an open meeting of the Dementia Action Alliance at 4pm.

Wednesday, October 9, is the opportunity for adult mental health awareness training with Coastal West Sussex Mind. The four-hour course costs £6, to include a light lunch, and places can be booked via eventbrite

Carol said: “This is an example of a real community initiative. The grant from Worthing Community Chest, support from Worthing Samaritans, Coastal West Sussex Mind and the Offington Park church community enables this training to take place.

“It allows up to 25 people to learn more about how they could support those facing mental health challenges and this is, in my view, a way to make our communities both more resilient and tolerant.

“Training of this kind can be emotionally exhausting and so I am grateful that the generosity of others means the participants can have space, and something to eat, before they leave.”

Thursday, October 10, is World Mental Health Day. At 9.15am, Worthing mum Ann Feloy will talk about Olly’s Future, an amazing charity set up to turn loss through tragedy into a campaign to save lives.

The CAPITAL Project Trust will be talking about maintaining emotional wellness at 10.30am and Worthing Samaritans will be giving a presentation at 11.30am about the work they do.

A spokesman for Worthing Samaritans said: “We are delighted to be supporting Worthing Mental Health Awareness Week. Many of our callers have mental health concerns and our volunteers are trained to listen, to give people time and space to talk about their issues confidentially.

“Worthing Mental Health Awareness Week is a great opportunity for visitors to find out more about us, and the many other providers, and to seek help and support if they need it.”

Activities on the Thursday and Friday include ways of promoting self-care and emotional resilience.

A film will be shown on the Thursday at 7.30pm and on the Friday at 7pm, there will be a concert, with a retiring collection for Coastal West Sussex Mind. The concert is co-ordinated by Karen Simporis and compered by Guild Care trustee Percy Nowell.

For the full programme and updates, visit