New scheme launched to make Chesterfield’s shops 'mental health friendly'

A new project to help Chesterfield’s shops and businesses become more welcoming for those with mental health issues was launched last week.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 3:19 pm
Lee Waterhouse, founder of Fuzzy Ducklings, wants to help others who are facing mental health issues.

The Mental Health Friendly project, which began on 10 October, was set up by Chesterfield charity Fuzzy Ducklings, and has received up to £45,000 in funding from Derbyshire County Council.

The scheme encourages local shops and business owners to train their staff in basic mental health awareness. After completing their training, businesses can display a Mental Health Friendly logo and will be added to the scheme’s mobile app, to identify them as having taken part.

This allows those suffering with mental health issues to find shops where they will be safe and supported, helping them feel more confident while out in the town.

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A representative from Derbyshire County Council said: “The approach helps to normalise the thoughts and perceptions around mental wellbeing and helps people who may feel worried about getting out and about again.

“The ambition is to create a whole community approach to mental wellbeing, where people are understanding and compassionate, where people are skilled in listening and supporting others and where there are settings that provide a warm welcome and support for anyone who may need it.”

Lee Waterhouse is the founder of Fuzzy Ducklings, and has suffered from depression since he was a teenager. He said the idea for the scheme came from wanting to help those who might be facing the same worries as him.

“As someone who has experienced ups and downs with my mental health, I wanted to create something that may help people who may be in a similar situation.

“It’s great to know that there are friendly people, shops and businesses that are mental health aware, that are understanding and friendly, and that I can pop into if I feel anxious.”

The Mental Health Friendly app can be found on both the iTunes and Google stores, and also contains information about local support and services for mental wellbeing.

The project is also supported by Chesterfield Borough Council, and will be overseen by the Chesterfield Mental Health Network. The scheme will be evaluated and, if successful, will be rolled out across Derbyshire.