You can now go to free mental health sessions in cafes across Liverpool

They will be held in churches, cafes and community halls

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Those suffering from mental health issues in Liverpool can become part of a brand new scheme giving free mental health sessions in the city.

The free sessions will be run by mental health experts  in public places, including cafes, churches and community halls. They are organised by the non-profit organisation Psychological Therapies Unit.

Director of the Psychological Therapies Unit, Steve Flatt is behind the new programme. Called “Working Conversations,” in Liverpool, the aim is to help reduce the increasing numbers of people suffering from anxiety and depression in Merseyside.

The idea is to take their mental health services into a more pleasant, modern enviroment, away from the office-like traditional therapy rooms. Currently, sessions have been run in St Bride’s Church on Percy Street, on the edge of Toxteth, and in Leaf Tea Shop on Bold Street, in Liverpool city centre.

Inside Leaf on Bold Street – a calm comfortable setting

The sessions can last from 10 minutes or up to an hour and are free.

The idea for ‘Working Conversations’ originally had refugees coming to Liverpool in mind, who were in need of mental health support, but expanded when the unit saw this as an opportunity to benefit all Liverpudlians.

Out of those who took The Tab’s recent mental health survey,44% of students at the University of Liverpool said they were suffering from a mental health problem. 80% of these said they were suffering from depression, whilst 77% said they were suffering from anxiety.

The most common mental illness at Liverpool Uni is depression, with 80% of us saying we suffer from it

Liverpool University’s Mental Health Society told The Tab what they thought of the scheme:

Hopefully this more causal approach to helping those affected by mental health issues will open up both discussion and support to a wider audience in a more comfortable setting.”

James*, a student a Liverpool who has sufferred from anxiety, told The Tab about his experience and what this new scheme would mean for him:

For me, more than anything, anxiety is about being judged. When you are in an office setting, of course they are trying to help but you feel very judged. The environment can be quite intense, particularly how silent the office can be.

“Having the programme in more informal environments could really put the mind at ease, you would feel less scrutinised and perhaps feel more like you’re sharing your issues with a friend.

“Additionally, the university services can take a long time to allocate appointments, I had to wait a month for mine. The services would provide people with help whenever they reach out.”

At The University of Liverpool, counselling and mental health services have waiting lists of up to 6 weeks, and the amount of sessions each individual can have annually are limited, although there are drop in sessions on Monday to Friday between 10am and 11am.

At the moment in Liverpool, waiting lists to see a mental health specialist on the NHS are up to four months long.

*Names have been changed to protect the student suffering from mental illness