ORGANISATIONS across Dorset joined forces to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health at a week-long event held at Bournemouth University.

A range of high-profile guests and speakers explored many aspects of mental health and shared their experiences in the run up to World Mental Health Day 2015.

Led by the university, the programme was a collaborative venture involving Dorset Police, Bournemouth and Poole councils, Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust and Dorset Mental Health Forum.

Humanitarian and author Terry Waite CBE spoke about how his many years as a hostage had an impact on his physical and mental health, while Sue Baker, CEO of mental health campaign group Time to Change, spoke positively about how employers can help staff suffering from mental illness.

Dr James Palfreman-Kay, equality and diversity adviser at BU, led the week’s events.

He said: “The programme has provided an excellent opportunity for Bournemouth University to show its strong commitment to equality and diversity, as well as the wellbeing of its staff and students.”

David Corbin, equality and diversity manager for Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust, added: “The events and programme for this year’s World Mental Health Day have brought together the community in Dorset as never before.

“We look forward to further developing programmes to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and promote health and wellbeing.”

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill helped present an interactive forum focusing on the Dorset Mental Health Street Triage.

“Hundreds attended last week’s sessions, thousands more read about our work in the news and over four million engaged in our activity on social media,” he said.

Several themes were explored at the event including mental health in sport, which was supported by fitness and wellbeing sessions.

Dr Andrew Mayers, a psychologist at BU and a national mental health campaigner, said: “I am proud Bournemouth University was able to produce such a wide range of events, raising awareness about mental health. During these events we encouraged people to talk openly about it.”

Dr Andy Mercer, professional lead for mental health and learning disabilities at the university, added: “I was very pleased to see such a wide range of people attending the various events we put on during the week.

“My hope is that everyone who participated will sustain their interest and spread a positive message about mental health across Dorset and beyond.”