WORLD Mental Health Day is more important than ever this year after the country has been trapped in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

With many still isolating alone, charities are giving out advice to help those who are struggling with their mental health and East Lancashire charities, businesses, health services and councils are showing their support for World Mental Health Day.

According to the NHS, one in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England.

In 2015, when Sam Haworth was 29 her mental health took a turn for the worse. She visited her GP in Rossendale seeking help and advice, and was given a list of useful contacts and emergency phone numbers.

Sam, from Rossendale contacted charity Togetherall (formerly Big White Wall) for help and has now been a member and benefited from the free online service for five and a half years.

Prior to using Togetherall Sam had difficulties with thoughts, feelings and emotions. Now aged 34, she wants people who are struggling with mental health to make sure they seek help.

She said: "Firstly, be kind. I would definitely encourage you to interact with Togetherall. It’s anonymous and monitored 24/7 by trained councillors and it’s really secure so nobody in there knows who you are and there’s nothing to identify you as an individual.

"You can take part in lots of online discussions with other people that are in similar situations to you. Togetherall has a feature called mood bricks, so if you are not able to verbalise how you are feeling, maybe try and express yourself in an artistic manor."

Togetherall is an anonymous online community providing a safe space where people struggling with their mental health can talk, share and support each other. As it is online it is accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Growing up, Sam felt like she was not able to regulate her moods quite as easily as everybody else. Sam suffered brain damage at birth which left lesions on her brain causing Sam to be diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a young child.

Sam concluded: “You can also take part in little courses in things like self-esteem and recognising your moods and how to track them. So yes, it’s definitely a really good tool."

Togetherall trained professionals are available at 24/7 offering peer support, self-assessments, providing access to resources as well as providing a wide range of self-guided courses to do at your own pace.

Dr Rakesh Sharma, GP and clinical lead for mental health at NHS East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: "This is a truly uplifting story which should serve as a great example of self-help to others, particularly during the current pandemic where it certainly has been challenging for us all and it is perfectly understandable that the changes we have had to live through may affect your mental wellbeing.

"If you are feeling at all worried, isolated or overwhelmed, it’s important to know you’re not alone but at the same time equally important to seek help and talk to someone Get support. Take control. Feel better."

Blackburn with Darwen Council are working with partner organisations from across Lancashire to support World Mental Health Day.

Councillor Damian Talbot, Executive Member for Public Health and Wellbeing for Blackburn with Darwen Council said: "As these unprecedented times continue, it is more important now than ever to raise awareness of mental health.

"The virus has caused stress for many and it is vital that people know where they can access the right kind of support.

"World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to help raise awareness of, and signpost people to, a range of brilliant services that are available to support people’s health and wellbeing at this time."

In Lancaster, a new not-for-profit organisation is aiming to tackle loneliness and create a space for men of all ages to come together to support each other.

Lancaster and District Men’s Shed (L.A.D.S) have launched a fundraiser so that they can continue their work throughout the winter.

The group are hoping to secure £6000 by the 20th of November, so that they can purchase a portacabin to allow them to continue their work during the colder months.

David Munro, project coordinator for L.A.D.S says: "The project has used a gazebo to work under during the summer and, with the unpredictability of the English weather, we’ve needed it more than we expected!

"But now as we move into the colder and wetter autumn and winter months we urgently need to acquire a more durable and warmer long-term solution for our accommodation. A new indoor home for the Men’s Shed!"