A SUNDERLAND councillor is encouraging residents to open up over a cuppa in a bid to conquer mental health challenges.

Sandhill ward councillor Debra Waller, who is Sunderland City Council’s mental health champion, is working alongside local campaigner Nathan Davison, to organise weekly coffee mornings with Mind to encourage vulnerable residents to share their experiences and seek support.

The councillor and activist has invited local residents to attend weekly sessions, which are taking place at St Aldates Court in Grindon and Greenside Court in Thorney Close, and soon children at Sandhill School will be trained as Mental Health champions, to encourage the next generation to talk openly and without stigma about the challenges they are facing.

The activity has been funded through Cllr Waller’s West Area community chest grant.

Debra said: “It’s so important that children and young people are able to access help when they are struggling with their emotions. Proactivity is key; helping people to open up and deal with their feelings before they escalate to more serious mental health issues.

“Working with Mind, we can create a forum in which people can talk openly about their feelings, as they wait for ongoing medical support that they may have sought from their GP.”

Nathan was equally supportive of the scheme adding: “MIND does wonderful work in our city and I would like to thank all the staff and volunteers who help in our community.”

Sessions at Mind run at the following times:

Monday 10:30am-12pm – Crafty Monday – Church Street East, Sunderland SR1 2BB

Monday 1pm-3pm – Tom Urwin House, Silksworth Terrace, Sunderland SR3 2AL

Tuesday 10:30am-12:30pm – Greenside Court, Thorney Close, Sunderland. SR3 4HS

Tuesday 1:15pm-3:25pm – Cherry Tree Gardens, Orchid Place, Houghton-le-Spring DH5 8GY

Wednesday 10am-12pm – Albany House, Southwick, Sunderland SR5 1EL

Wednesday 1pm-3pm – Back on the Map, 67 Toward Road, Sunderland SR2 8JG

Thursday 10am-12pm – ShARP, 17 Beatrice Terrace, Shiney Row DH4 4QW

Friday 10am-12pm – St Aldates Court, Gartland Road, Grindon, Sunderland SR4 9LT

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