Nurse’s mission to get people talking about mental health

Sam Tyrer, a nurse who has organised Change Talks to tackle issues around mental health
Sam Tyrer, a nurse who has organised Change Talks to tackle issues around mental health
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A Lancashire nurse nurse organised an event called Change Talks to tackle issues around mental health

AASMA DAY talks to Sam Tyrer to find out what inspired him to organise the event and increase awareness

Working as a staff nurse at Royal Preston Hospital, Sam Tyrer frequently comes into contact with patients who have attempted to end their own lives.

Sam Tyrer, a nurse who organised Change Talks to tackle issues around mental health

Sam Tyrer, a nurse who organised Change Talks to tackle issues around mental health

Sadly, Sam, who lives in Hutton, near Preston, soon realised than some of these people went on to carry out other suicide attempts – often successfully.

After realising that Lancashire had some of the worst rates for suicide and Preston was the suicide capital in the county, Sam decided he wanted to do something to raise awareness to tackle mental health issues facing the community.

He has organised a new event called Change Talks which is about opening up the conversation around mental health.

ChangeTalks will be rolled out as part of the South Ribble Partnership Initiative Street Checks, Healthy Steps, which promotes health and wellbeing.

The first of the series of talks, was held on Thursday September 14 and proved so popular, the 170 available places were reserved within three days. More events are planned for the future.

Sam, 24, who works on the gastroenterology ward and is also a doctoral student of health at the University of Central Lancashire, says: “So many people suffer in silence and I’m really passionate about changing this and raising awareness.

“In my work, I’ve had a lot of experience of people trying to take their lives.

“It’s not just the young, it’s across all ages and it’s very sad to see people feeling like that.

“During a normal week on the wards, I found I was seeing on average around three people a week who had tried to take their own lives.”

Sam also says he has some personal insight as to how people battling depression and mental health issues must feel like.

He explains: “I used to be very overweight as I turned to food for comfort after losing my nanna under very bad circumstances.

“I began to feel very down and did not have any confidence and I realised what people with depression must feel like all the time.

“I didn’t want anyone else to feel like that and feel so isolated and low and I realised there are a lot of people who are struggling.

“I want to make Preston central to changing the way we think about mental health and to create inspiration for people to create a healthier mind and have an enviroment where people can talk openly.

“I am passionate about wanting to help others and want to make a positive change.”

The first Change Talks event focused on depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

A range of speakers took part in the event at Leyland Civic Centre, including SAS Who Dares Wins participant Steven Crompton.

The guest speakers talked openly about their own experiences of anxiety, depression and eating disorders.

There were also live performances including a monologue and a song.

Sensitive topics such as suicide were also discussed and support was available on the day for anyone affected.

There was also a discussion on how food can help support good mental health by Simon Hall, founder of Body Composition Coaching.

Coun Peter Mullineaux, leader of South Ribble Council and vice-chair of the partnership, says: “The fact that places were taken up so quickly demonstrates there is a real desire among the public to learn more about mental health 
and to have a greater understanding of how they can help.

“We hope this talk is just the beginning and that it will go some way to removing the taboo that is often attached to mental health and encourage people to speak more openly about it.”

• There will be similar talks, all of which aim to address mental health issues.

Dates for future events are still to be announced but you can stay informed by following South Ribble Partnership on @SRPartnership or by e-mailing: partnership@southribble.gov.uk