Belles nod to Mental Health Awareness Week

During Mental Health Awareness Week (12-18 May) the Belles took the opportunity to focus our monthly meeting on ‘wellbeing of the mind’.
We were so pleased to welcome presidents and secretaries from other Cambridge WIs, Cam Cityand LadyBirds, to the meeting. It’s always such a pleasure to join together.

Before kicking off with the main speakers our secretary, Laura Pryke, asked us to vote on the WI organ donation resolution. This resolution, if passed, would encourage people to talk about organ donation and share their wishes with family and friends. We look forward to hearing the outcome!

We were fortunate to have three amazing speakers talk to us about different aspects of mental health support from Belle, Deborah Hunt, who, as a forensic psychologist talked about her work in women’s prisons; Belle, Laura Petchey, bravely took to the podium to share her experiences of living with anxiety and useful coping methods, and finally Dr Chess Denman, Medical Director of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, kindly joined us to give her professional take on mental health issues at different life stages.

Belles, LadyBirds and Cam City
First, Deborah gave us an overview of how she came to become a forensic psychologist, telling us how her interest in psychology began when living with a family member with learning difficulties. It was fascinating to understand the journey that took her to work in prisons and Deborah provided an insight into how life can be for many women in prisons, sharing photos and examples from local facilities in which she works.

Following Deborah, Laura then braved the spotlight with her personal talk on living with anxiety. This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week took the theme of anxiety, asking ‘Are you anxiety aware?’. Laura helped make us all aware by explaining about panic attacks, how best to care for someone experiencing anxiety and positive ways to look after yourself if you suffer from anxiety.

Anxiety Girl by University of Greenwich medical students

Laura was given much praise by Dr Chess Denman herself, psychiatrist and Medical Director of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust. Chess very kindly gave up her Wednesday evening to speak to us about her work and give an overview of how mental health issues can affect us at different stages of life. Her extremely inspiring and funny talk about mental heath was open and refreshing. Chess mixed serious factual information with personal experiences and eye-opening anecdotes that increased our awareness of mental health issues and also helped reassure that they can be normal experiences that anyone could face and come through. A huge thank you to Chess!

To see Chess in action, check out her talk on personality disorders here.

Dr Chess Denman
To end the night, as part of our Sell and Share initiative, Belle, Mel Hale, brought along her amazing range of jewellery, cards and gifts to the meeting. As we crowded like magpies around her table it wasn’t hard to pull out our purses and buy some beautiful items. Thanks Mel!

One of Mel’s beautiful rings

And finally, a big thanks to the fabulous Kara who made our awesome Belles bunting which we will proudly display at meetings and events. Keep an eye out for us!

Blue Belles bunting

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Cambridge Blue Belles

We are a fun and friendly WI group meeting in the heart of beautiful Cambridge.