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Call for end to cultural ‘tensions’ in Ipswich so mentally ill BME people can seek help

PUBLISHED: 07:05 11 May 2017 | UPDATED: 07:48 11 May 2017

A ball pit was set up at Ipswich Library for Mental Health Awareness Week 2017, and participants were asked to throw a ball into the 'surviving' or 'thriving' bucket, depending on how they were feeling. Picture: JAMES POWELL

A ball pit was set up at Ipswich Library for Mental Health Awareness Week 2017, and participants were asked to throw a ball into the 'surviving' or 'thriving' bucket, depending on how they were feeling. Picture: JAMES POWELL

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A 53-year-old Ipswich man with early onset dementia has called for more to be done for people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds who suffer with mental health problems.

Ipswich man David Oyewobi, who is concerned about community tensions in the town. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELLIpswich man David Oyewobi, who is concerned about community tensions in the town. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

David Oyewobi, whose late brother had schizophrenia, said a lack of integration in the town was causing “tension” and leaving some people unable to seek help outside their own cultural circles.

He said: “We should integrate as one, especially those with mental health.

“There’s been a lot of stabbings and drug using going on in Ipswich, and that’s part of the mental health issues.

“When people are not saying anything it’s swept under the carpet. There is tension right now within the different communities and things feel like they are about to explode.

Jennie Greenhalgh from Julian Support talking to members of the public in Ipswich town centre during Mental Health Awareness Walk. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELLJennie Greenhalgh from Julian Support talking to members of the public in Ipswich town centre during Mental Health Awareness Walk. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

“I’m born and bred British but people still make comments and there is no attempt to bring people together.”

David was speaking during an event at Ipswich Library yesterday to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, which this year carries the theme ‘Surviving or Thriving?’.

As part of the campaign, Jennie Greenhalgh and three of her colleagues from charity Julian Support walked from their Ipswich office in Clarkson Street to Ipswich Library, starting conversations with members of the public along the way.

Jennie said almost everyone she met that morning told her they had experienced mental illness in some form and, perhaps more surprisingly, they were willing to talk about it.

(L-R) Georgina, Brenda Ely, Ben Mills and Jennie Greenhalgh from Julian Support during their walk through Ipswich for Mental Health Awareness Week 2017. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL(L-R) Georgina, Brenda Ely, Ben Mills and Jennie Greenhalgh from Julian Support during their walk through Ipswich for Mental Health Awareness Week 2017. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

She added: “Everyone has amazed me how they have opened up and shared really deep feelings and emotions.”

Although this shows stigma around the subject is breaking down, Jennie said a lack of funding meant there wasn’t always the resources available to help all those coming forward.

Shamim Almamun, service manager at Julian Support Ipswich, said there needed to be more mental health education in schools.

He added: “That’s when the future generation will grow up with much more resilience and as a result they will have a better work/life balance, then you have a better citizen and a better country.”

The Caterpillars Time to Change group at Ipswich Library. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELLThe Caterpillars Time to Change group at Ipswich Library. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

The charity works alongside Suffolk Libraries and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust to run a weekly support group at Ipswich Library called Open Space.

Ian Wyard, 51, attends most sessions and he said the social interaction improved his mental wellbeing.

Ian Wyard, who attends the weekly Open Space mental health support group at Ipswich Library. Picture: JAMES POWELLIan Wyard, who attends the weekly Open Space mental health support group at Ipswich Library. Picture: JAMES POWELL


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