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People visiting and soaking up the atmosphere in Gloucester’s Rugby World Cup Fanzone have been viewing films raising awareness about  mental health issues.

The series of films, produced by national anti-stigma campaign Time to Change, have been shown on the Fanzone’s big screen during breaks from the tournament’s main action.

The initiative is all part of the county’s successful ‘Gloucestershire Tackles Stigma’ campaign – run by a partnership of local health and community organisations – and part of the lead up to World Mental Health Day on Saturday October 10.

Professor Jane Melton, Director of Engagement and Integration for ²gether NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Like many people across Gloucestershire, we’re really excited about the Rugby World Cup and the games being played in the county. We felt we could use this fantastic event to engage with our local community and visitors and show that Gloucestershire is mindful about mental health.

“Every year 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem. In the world of rugby this means that each team is likely to contain at least 3 players who are currently experiencing or will experience a mental illness in 2015.

“Time to Change is a fantastic campaign run by the national charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. It is aimed at breaking down the barriers and tackling the stigma that still surrounds mental illness. We are really grateful the city council has supported us to show the Time to Change films within the Fanzone.”

The Glos Tackle Stigma campaign is promoted by a partnership of organisations, under the umbrella of NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) ‘No Health Without Mental Health’ agenda.

Since late 2014 a series of ‘tea and talk’ events have been held with local organisations and employers, including Gloucestershire Constabulary, UCAS, GE Aviation, and Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, in order to promote healthy conversations about mental wellbeing in the workplace.

The films initiative – which also involves Time to Change films being shown at the rural cinema in the Corinium Cinema, Cirencester – is the latest part of the campaign.

 Dr Andy Seymour, Deputy Clinical Chair at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group said: 
“Mental health tends to be something that people are reluctant to talk about, but the reality is that mental health issues can affect anyone, from sports professionals to spectators.

We want to help people in Gloucestershire to stay well, both physically and mentally and hope that raising awareness amidst the excitement of the Rugby World Cup will make people think about their own mental health, as well as that of their friends and families.

Cllr Kathy Williams, Gloucestershire County Council cabinet member for long term care, said; ““With high profile ex-internationals such as Jason Robinson, Alan Quinlan and Duncan Bell all speaking out over their own battles with mental health, it shows that even our sporting heroes can struggle sometimes.
“We want to remove the stigma around mental health, to encourage people to share their stories and raise awareness of where they can go for help. Let’s kick the stigma around mental health into touch.”

World Mental Health Day is an annual event coordinated by the World Health Organisation and marked on October 10. The theme of World Mental Health Day this year is ‘Dignity’.

Other events being held to mark the occasion include a stand in the Market Square, Cirencester, from 9am until 2pm on Friday October 9, a stand in the ASDA supermarket, Gloucester, on the afternoon of Friday October 9.

There will also be a stand at Stroud Farmers Market on Saturday October 10, as well as a talk on tackling stigma at the Disabled Community Forum in Hester’s Way, Cheltenham, on Wednesday October 7.

To find out more about Time to Change and view the films being shown click here.