A magazine exploring Kingston aims to support people struggling with mental health to get the help they need.
The Zine, set up in December, consists of 57 colourful pages, 24 of which are articles that provide insights into different mental health services available in Kingston.
The Zine aspires to break down the stigma around mental health by showcasing real stories from the community in an attempt to help people feel less alone.
Dorota Chioma, author of the Zine said: “Enough is enough, I have suffered in silence for many years, which has led to a massive crisis.
“There is so much bad news around us which overshadows the aspects of kindness, resilience in fighting against all odds, bravery in sharing your own stories or hardship in order to help others feel that they are not alone.
“Should Zine help someone to reach out for help, then it is a great success.
“Even one life makes a difference.”
The Zine offers a range of creative approaches such as access to nature and art as a way for people to cope with their struggles.
The magazine is available online or in paper, these have been distributed to public places in Kingston by local charity Save the World and will be available in Kinston libraries upon them reopening.
Each hard copy of Zine contains a postcard for people to put their own message in as an attempt to reach out to others.
Chioma said: “I believe it has provided an additional layer to social contact in currently socially restricted circumstances.
“Turning to art has massively helped my mental health and on this particular battlefield. There are amazing people, heroes, who are making a change for the better.
“This project has brought back my faith in humanity.”
The magazine is a new product of Time to Change Kingston, which is part of a national initiative to address stigmatising and discriminatory attitudes towards mental health.
At the heart of their movement are people with experience of mental health problems, who are called champions.
Tony Williams chair of the Mental Health Task Group at HealthWatch Kingston said: “Through training the champions to become advocates for normalising the conversations about mental health so it becomes no more and no less difficult to discussing aspects of physical health.
“Champions can advocate either through personal interactions in their daily lives with people who perhaps have no experience of mental health challenges or who might harbour stigmatising views.
“This can be done on one-to-one basis in daily life, through events in local communities, or through products like the Zine.”
Time to Change Kingston, hosted by Kingston Council, was the second hub in London to be awarded funding from Time to Change in 2019.
Mental health problems have worsened across all age groups in the past year, as according to the Centre for Mental Health, the Covid-19 pandemic will adversely affect the mental health of 10 million people in the UK, 1.5 million of these being children.
Williams said: “The pressures of modern living have been compounded by the financial challenges of austerity and most recently by the pandemic.
“The cost of not seeking help is particularly noticeable in men, for whom acknowledging vulnerability seems most problematic.”
According to the Office for National Statistics men accounted for 75% of registered suicide deaths in 2019.
South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust have introduced a mobile crisis assessment team who are able to visit individuals at home and in community settings.
To contact the 24/7 crisis team, call 0800 028 8000 or via the 111 NHS helpline.
Featured image credit: Dorota Chioma