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Leeds Love Art Festival confronts workplace mental health issues

Love Arts Festival Exhibition in The Light, Leeds

By Ian Molyneaux

MENTAL HEALTH issues due to work affect 60 per cent of employees, according to the Mental Health at Work 2017 report released this week.

The survey of 3,000 workers carried out by the charity Business in the Community found workers facing demotion, disciplinary action or dismissal if they opened up about feelings.

Louise Ashton, of Business in the Community, said: “We must ensure that all employees – young and old, male and female, whether they work full-time or part-time – feel that they are able to speak up about their mental health at work, and are confident that they can do so without fear of the consequences.”

In Leeds the Love Arts Festival is tackling the issues of mental health head on. Now in its seventh year it was the first festival to be funded by an NHS Trust in England

The festival is run by Arts and Minds, a project set up by Leeds and Yorkshire Partnerships NHS Foundations Trust in 2010 to deal with mental health problems in the community.

Showcasing art, exhibitions and performances throughout Leeds over a two week period, the festival aims to “get the public talking” and confronting issues around mental health.

Tom Bailey, 39, Arts and Minds development worker said: “Let’s start talking about mental health because the more we talk about it the more people feel supported and can access services quickly.”

The festival runs until October 18 and uses spaces throughout the city, often run by volunteers or those associated with teaching in creative arts.

In The Light shopping centre paintings and artwork by artists have experienced issues of anxiety or depression are on display.

In the St Johns shopping centre members of the public can interact with the art displays and see ceramics from students at Inkwell Arts.

Kevin Hickson, who teaches those with mental health issues at Inkwell Arts and volunteered at the exhibition in St Johns, said: “Zero hour contracts and low paid jobs and mental health go hand in hand. You hear all the time about people revealing they’re not feeling well and it having negative consequences.”

The Love Arts Festival aims to support the artists who have experienced mental health issues and bring awareness to the public.

“The festival gives artists and performers an outlet and a public face and will help their development but also addresses the issues with the public which is massive,” added Mr Bailey.

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