Oban mental health directory could save lives

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Oban launches a lifeline directory today to help save the town from mental health crisis and tragedy.

The online one-stop resource that includes contact details and information from about 60 local and national organisations and support groups is believed to be the first of its kind.

Funding from Comic Relief ‘s Shift The Power initiative and vital support from Bid4Oban and the creators of the town’s own business-promoting directory has helped make it happen.

Just some of the 60 groups and support organisations featured in the directory.

Getting ‘the right kind of help at the right time’ to people who need it, is the driving force behind the new Oban, Lorn and the Inner Isles Mental Health Directory, says Catriona Petit, service manager at Hope Kitchen.

‘It’s about getting the right kind of help to people at the right time before crisis or tragedy takes over. Oban and other communities like ours have seen too much despair and tragedy. It’s not going to be a solution but it is something positive we can do to support our community,’ she added.

The goal is the directory will be evolving and easy to navigate without overwhelming people looking for mental health help for themselves or others and without them having to trawl through lots of other different websites to get started.

As well as pulling together details, including numbers to call and text, to signpost people to what support is available, the directory will have a what’s on section and explanations of mental health diagnoses from mental health charity Mind. There are plans to include short films to help people absorb the information and feel more at ease about seeking help.

Feedback and suggestions from site users will also be welcome to help keep the resource up to date and give smaller organisations a wider reach.

The directory has been three years in the making having started out on paper involving work from Martyn’s Monday Club then growing to include input from Oban Mental Health Forum and support agency Acumen.

‘That was the vehicle from where the OLI Mental Health Directory was birthed,’ said Hope’s Catriona who pursued the funding to get it done, securing £4,000 towards it.

The platform to build the web directory on was donated from Bid4Oban and Alan and Eilidh Livingtone, who had designed the successful Oban Town Directory that gives a comprehensive list of businesses. Hope Kitchen ‘developed it from there’, added Catriona.

Hope advisory group member Jakki Spicer, who took on the role of collating the information from all the different organisations, said: ‘The idea is that anyone who thinks they may have a mental health problem or knows anyone they think might have a mental health problem – family member, friend or work mate – can go straight to the directory and find out what help is out there, whether it’s how to get in touch with the community mental health team and find out what they do or how to get financial advice. It could be how to contact Citizen’s Advice. The directory lists all the different areas of help.’

Interest in producing similar directories has already been shown from other areas across Scotland.

‘We believe ours is the first of its kind and that it will help remove barriers that quite often prevent people from getting access to the help they need,’ said Catriona.