SERVICE users, supporters, members and staff of Support in Mind Scotland walked through Holyrood Park on Saturday morning (10 October) to mark World Mental Health Day and this year's theme of 'Dignity'.

The walkers were led by the talented young musicians of Davidson's Mains & District Pipe Band, who gave a stirring performance as the procession made its way from Duke's Walk to near the Scottish Parliament.

Click here to watch a video of the Edinburgh walk on Support in Mind Scotland's YouTube channel.

The walk also grabbed the attention of many international tourists in Holyrood Park, who were seen snapping away on their cameras, while passing cars and vans tooted their horns in support and shouted encouragement after spotting the Support in Mind Scotland banner.

After the walk, and tea, coffee and cake in Serenity Cafe, the gathering listened to fascinating talks from well-known mental health rights activist Graham Morgan MBE and Support in Mind Scotland board member and service user Eric Walker. 

Eric talked about his own personal experience of mental illness, dating back to when he was recognised as being ill in 1976 when aged 16.

Eric explained how, after two intense stays in hospital, he had found the Stafford Centre in 1987 where has attended on and off for 28 years. "I felt comfortable about the place," he said. "I played chess, socialised and ate meals. I used it as a day ward in 1996 when times were tough and was there every hour it was opened. I currently like the walking and music groups. I also get the chance to play Scrabble once a week."

Eric also spoke of the voluntary work he has done: including at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital patients' library, Meals on Wheels, the Birtish Heart Foundation office and shop and, of course, with Support in Mind Scotland. 

“I would really like to make sure the views of communities whose voice is still absent are heard and respected
Graham Morgan MBE

Graham Morgan also drew on his personal experiences with mental ill health during a thought-provoking speech.

Graham, who is about to start a new job with the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland as their engagement officer with lived experience, said: "The Commission is an organisation of great credibility and influence, it has world wide respect and for me, to work with them is a great opportunity.

"I would really like the well established network of service user groups across Scotland to feel a sense of involvement with the commission and a desire to influence and participate in its work, I would really like to speak with and learn the views of those who have been distanced and isolated from society due to the use of the mental health act and to make sure that the views of communities whose voice is still absent are heard and respected.

Support in Mind Scotland CEO Frances Simpson thanked everyone who attended and said she hoped the walk, which also doubled as the launch of our 1 IN 100 awareness and fundraising campaign, will become an annual event.

Support in Mind Scotland were also grateful for the support on the day from Bipolar Scotland and Health in Mind who took tables at the event to help raise awareness of mental health issues, and to Serenity Cafe for hosting us.

There was also a Dignity Walk by service users from Support in Mind Scotland's Kaleidoscope project in Dumfries, pictured below, through the town's Crichton Gardens. The walkers later marked World Mental Health Day by taking part in a Mental Health Quiz and enjoyed few games of bingo. They also added their own personal thoughts on the theme 'Dignity' to a poster in Kaleidoscope.

If you have an idea to support our 1 IN 100 fundraising and awareness campaign, or would like further information, please call us on 0131 662 4359 or email us at: [email protected]