Wednesday, December 21

Announcement from the chair

Some of you may have heard on the grapevine but I've just sent out an email to our members, which I'm copying here to let you all know I'm standing down as chair of MHAG. It's been a decision that's taken me a long while to come to and not something I've decided lightly, but I feel it's the best decision for myself and for the group as a whole.

Part of the reason is I've been based in Shropshire for a while now and it's been increasingly difficult to try and run a Redditch-based group from over here. While it's not the other side of the world, running a freelance business and having a toddler are additional complications and it's meant I've often had to turn down meeting requests or opportunities that would have progressed MHAG.

Secondly, we often joked at the start that MHAG was mine and Beccy's baby but I'm now due my second real baby in the spring so I want to take some time out with my little ones while they're still little!

I'm very proud to have been associated with the group and to see the way its members, and the wider Redditch community, have embraced mental health and its importance. I will of course still speak up for mental health and tackling stigma at every opportunity, and I hope at one point to be able to rejoin the group!

Thank you to everyone that's been involved in MHAG up to this point, especially to the working group and Beccy specifically. I've been very lucky to meet so many amazing people through the group, many of whom I hope to remain friends with for a long time to come.

Wishing you all a merry Christmas,
Harriet x

Friday, July 8

Bridge tragedy

I am beyond saddened to hear of another loss of life at the Bromsgrove Highway bridge. Back in 2012 we were involved in trying to campaign for action to be taken there and sadly weren't successful. It was this which led us on to form MHAG the following year. I was asked as chair to provide a comment to the Redditch Standard which appears in today's paper (available online here). This is the comment in full:

Harriet Ernstsons-Evans, chair of the Redditch Mental Health Action Group, said: "It is tragic another incident has happened which could so easily have been avoided had the county council listened years ago when they were warned of the issues at that location.

"Taking action at the bridge is only part of the solution - but it is an important part. National best practice states locations should be made safer once there have been a number of incidents there and there are examples across the country where action such as caging has reduced the number of lives lost.

"Alongside this we also need to keep focusing on the provision of mental health services and destigmatising mental health, allowing people to come forward and access help when they need it in a timely and appropriate manner.

"But while this is happening, the county council need to urgently reverse their decision not to take action at the bridge. How many lives need to be lost before they think it's important enough to consider? There is a financial cost to caging the bridge but there is a very real human cost in terms of the lives lost and the impact on loved ones and witnesses."

Friday, June 10

Creating a directory for Redditch

HELP is at hand for Redditch residents wanting to try something new thanks to the creation of a wellbeing directory.
Leaders of the Jigsaw Project, run by the Redditch Mental Health Action Group and Yum Tum Club, are currently putting together the directory with the aim of printing it later this year.
It is then hoped funding can be secured to enable the resource to be updated annually.
The six themes of the Jigsaw Project – which aims to bring together all the aspects of health and wellbeing – are mental health, physical health, food, creativity, community and relationships.
Anything which fits into one or more of the categories, from a friendship group for older people or a sports club to musical offerings and educational courses, can be included in the directory.
Fay Yeng from the Jigsaw Project said: “We want to try and capture as much information as possible about what’s going on in Redditch, so residents can pick up a copy and find something which will not only appeal to them but also enhance their wellbeing.
“In the coming months we will be contacting as many organisations as possible to get information about their courses, activities and meetings to include in the directory. But we would also like to hear from anyone who thinks their group’s information should be in there.”
As well as creating the directory, the Jigsaw Project is all about bringing together the community to promote the good things which happen in Redditch.
Fay added: “We are building a network of support who feel they need a little lift, something to do or a friend. If we unite together we can provide hope to people who feel they need some help, whether it be enabling them to join a group they did not know about previously or access a service which could give them hope for the future.
“It is all about improving the ‘mental wealth’ of the town’s residents – after all, one in four people experience a mental health issue in any one year and everyone has stresses in their life, so we believe Jigsaw can make a real difference.”
To be featured in the directory, all that is needed is the name and short description of the activity, location, dates and times plus a contact name and number. E-mail the information to or call 07788 379389.
Like us over on Facebook or  follow us on Twitter to join the growing online Jigsaw community, find out about upcoming events or post about your own.

Monday, May 9

The Gary and Robert Blues

At MHAG we're thrilled to have always been supported by theatre group Forthright (you may also know them as Jestaminute- and we want to help them as they embark on a crowdfunding project to get their fabulous mental health play The Gary and Robert Blues seen by even more people.

In their words, the play is

"A funny, angry and poignant story of one man using his creation of a new stand-up comedy act to find a path through his confused and damaged mind; and reconnect with the world. Trying to understand his own muddled thinking he looks at the irrational way in which society reacts to mental health issues. Inter cut with a blues music soundtrack, this powerful show is a mix of theatre and stand-up. This is the first in a trilogy of plays we are planning tackling different aspects of mental health.
Whilst we are obviously aiming to progress our artistic ambitions; the play is also important as it raises awareness of mental health issues – particularly those relating to men."
And in the words of their audiences:
".....Educational, emotional and very human..........Thought-provoking, myth-busting and highly recommended viewing." Laura Hughes Ember Counselling.
“pertinent and informative” Paul Milton, creative director at Everyman Theatre, Gloucester.
“.....the actor – Stephan Bessant – gave a brilliant performance which offered significant insights into the experience of mental illness for men.......” .  Pam Morley, senior lecturer, Mental Health Division, Birmingham City University
To pledge your help or find out more, visit

Thank you!

Friday, April 15

Mental Health Appeal

At MHAG, we're huge fans of comedienne/counsellor Sheila McMahon who first came to our attention at the comedy Ship O Fools night at the Palace Theatre a couple of years back. She's since brought her own show Sheila's Mental Health Show to the Palace earlier this year and this week she's launched her new appeal. The video explains what it's all about but essentially she's enlisted the help of Sister Mary to take part in a tandem hang-glide to raise money for an online resource to help people with mental health issues. It's a much-needed project and hats off to anyone afraid to face a fear of heights in such a dramatic way to raise cash! If you can spare a few pennies to help Sheila reach her goal then please do, but perhaps more importantly please share the video so even more people get to hear about it!

Monday, March 21

What's happening at our Easter Monday community barbecue?

It's just a week now until the community barbecue at the Old Needleworks and there's lots of work going on behind the scenes to ensure the event is a success.
So far confirmed we have the food obviously (it will all be food which boosts your mood and makes you feel fab, so hopefully you'll go home with some new recipes ideas!), drumming, a children's dance workshop, the labyrinth (which was funded by MHAG last year), the opportunity to watch jewellery being made plus some opportunities to get creative and think about your own 'mental wealth'.
To give you even more information, here's a copy of the press release we've sent out to the papers today:
VOLUNTEERS are hoping their event will sizzle as they host a barbecue with a difference to promote the power of community spirit.
Yum Tum Club and the Redditch Mental Health Action Group have joined forces to create the Jigsaw Project, aimed at getting more organisations working together in Redditch for the benefit of residents' health.
The project is set to highlight activities, courses and meetings on social media, as well as creating a printed directory later this year to inform residents what is going on within the town.
To launch the Jigsaw, a community barbecue will run from 12pm to 3pm on Easter Monday (March 28) at the Old Needleworks on Britten Street. Anyone is welcome to the free event, with representatives from any organisation invited to bring along leaflets or other information to share.
A holistic approach to wellbeing will be promoted by encouraging guests to get involved in activities such as drumming, a children's dance workshop and other 'feel good' activities, with the food being slightly different from normal barbecue food in that the menu has been designed to promote 'improving your food mood' acknowledging the link between eating and mental health.
Fay Yeng from Yum Tum Club said: "The idea of the Jigsaw Project is to bring people together, so what better way to launch it than to host a 'happy food' barbecue creating a platform to talk freely about 'mental wealth'.
"During the project, we hope to show how all aspects of health including mental health and healthy eating fit together like a jigsaw to form an overall picture."
The event has been funded thanks a Redditch Borough Council grant awarded to co-organiser Sue Yeng and there will be opportunities to donate to MHAG or the Jigsaw Project during the day.
To find out more, e-mail or call 07788 379389. Find the project by searching 'The Jigsaw Project' on Facebook or @redditchjigsaw on Twitter. 

Thursday, March 17

Community barbecue

If you've read our last post (here), you'll know the Jigsaw Project is now up and running. To celebrate, we're hosting a community barbecue on Easter Monday. Do come along if you want to try some food, perhaps some activities and have a chat! Let your friends, colleagues and family know and feel free to bring along information about any groups, activities, courses or events you're running.