Mental health matters take centre stage at Hastings awareness event

Mental health providers and people with experience of mental health challenges came together to discuss and promote the reasons why mental health matters.

Employees of Southdowns mental health team  (L-R) Lynne Thomas, Kirstie Addleton and Martin Dominy
Employees of Southdowns mental health team  (L-R) Lynne Thomas, Kirstie Addleton and Martin Dominy

The Mental Health Matters event, held at St Mary in the Castle on Friday, June 14, was hosted by Southdown, a specialist provider of housing, care and support in Sussex since 1972, and sponsored by Amber Rudd MP.

The event showcased local services and gave delegates the opportunity to discuss how they could work together to best support local people.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

Delegates also listened to presentations on social prescribing, financial inclusion and specialist employment support for people with mental health challenges. In addition, a panel discussion, including Amber Rudd, representatives from the Department of Work and Pensions and Southdown’s chief executive, Neil Blanchard, took place to round the afternoon off.

Lisa Unsworth, employment specialist at Southdown (left) with Jess Levine, local artist (right)

Amber Rudd MP said: “In Hastings we receive £600,000 of funding each year dedicated to improve mental health as part of the Opportunity Area programme, but I will continue to ensure our services are properly funded and my residents get the best support possible.”


Panel discussion including the DWPs East Sussex County Partnership Manager, Wayne Edmunds, Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye and Neil Blanchard, CEO at Southdown

Mr Blanchard added: “At a time of increasing demand for mental health support, it has never been more vital for communities to work together to protect and deliver services that meet local people’s needs and helps improve their emotional health and wellbeing. It was great to be part of, and encourage, the conversation about how we – local authorities, the NHS, providers and people who access support – can collectively best support those affected by mental health challenges to get well, stay well and prevent crisis.”

Bexhill artist Jess Levine, who has sought help for her mental health and attended the event, said: “I’ve struggled with my mental health and periods of depression over the past 20 years. It has been very isolating and affected everything. I have had good experiences of support and been frustrated with services.

“If you don’t know how to tap into the system, you can fall through the gaps. It’s important to keep channels of communication open; an open dialogue can help to avoid tragedies. The recent support I’ve had from Southdown’s employment service has been outstanding. I’ve developed tools to value myself and have secured work, which is incredibly important for my wellbeing.”

Visit for details.