With the first Exeter Mental Health Awareness Weekend taking place at Exeter Phoenix this year, we thought that the opportunity was ripe to get the word out about what we do. So much research at WCCEH relates to mental health, whether directly or indirectly, that this seemed like a fantastic event to get involved in; to raise awareness of the Centre and the people within it, and to deepen relationships with the city – and with the Phoenix – at the same time.
To begin with, centre research fellows and PhD students – and Ann – organised a panel and workshop for the Saturday, in which attendees were invited to hear more about WCCEH, our engaged research ethos and strategy, opportunities to collaborate with the Centre, and the individual projects of the scholars there. This was well-attended, and resulted in a lively and fascinating discussion on mental health, community, and collective responses to shared experiences and challenges. These conversations continued across the next two days at WCCEH’s stall, prominently positioned in the theatre foyer. Our stock of business cards for the Centre was seriously depleted, and Phoenix users were eager to hear more about our work.
Hopefully, the legacy of this event will be some lasting relationships and conversations. As a direct result of WCCEH’s presence at the weekend, we have been invited to share a stall with a grass-roots mental health organisation at Exeter Respect Festival; WCCEH scholars have been asked to put a panel together for Exeter Literary Festival; one researcher was invited to collaborate by Wellbeing Exeter; and we are already planning the Mental Health Awareness Weekend for next year!