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First Thrive mental health event sold out

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MOMENTUM is building for a movement to get the community working together to tackle issues such as suicide, mental health, addiction and poverty, according to the local founder of Thrive Jersey.

Andy Le Seelleur Picture: ROB CURRIE. (26004156)

As the Island prepares to mark World Mental Health Day on Thursday, this week the JEP will publish a series of articles and interviews focusing on mental health and how Islanders can work together to make a difference. The coverage will include the publication of a special supplement, A Focus on Mental Health, on Thursday.

Today, mental health campaigner Andy Le Seelleur – whose wife Monika took her own life in 2016 – revealed that the first Thrive event due to take place later this month has already sold out.

Around 150 representatives of the government, civil service, private companies and the general public have signed up to attend the ‘un-convention’, which will focus on suicide, addiction and communication and feature a variety of guest speakers, among them five high-profile suicide-prevention campaigners in the UK.

Mr Le Seelleur described Thrive as a ‘magnet for positive change’ which will work to inspire and drive innovative projects, ideas and strategies to make Jersey a better place to live.

‘It is not just about mental health, it is about positivity,’ he said. ‘And if you have positivity then mental health is a benefit of that.’

The Thrive event on 25 October is being part funded by the Health Department in a move which Mr Le Seelleur says is indicative of new momentum and support from the government to work proactively to address issues which have traditionally not been talked about in Jersey.

However, he added that progress will only be made if the whole Island works together.

‘We sold out within two weeks,’ he said. ‘It has gone better than even optimistic me could have ever imagined. I am really excited about the calibre of people we have got coming over to speak and their desire to make it a long-term relationship.’

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He added: ‘We want to open up all the main issues that drive low mood and talk about them much more openly and honestly and in a more clever manner. We want to look globally for solutions and people that can come and help us.

‘Nothing will be solved on the day but with all of our speakers and the ideas we unlock during our discussions we hope we can inspire people to then get going on projects after the event.’

The aim of the first Thrive event will be to establish the organisation’s name within the local community and begin the conversation, while focusing on the three key areas.

Other projects and pop-up events will happen throughout the year. Thrive will look to register as a charity and it is hoped a large event like the one due to take place later this month can be held annually.

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‘Thrive has spent the past 18 months influencing people from the top to the bottom and we have got complete support and collaboration and understanding from everyone we have spoken to – many of who have said they have been waiting for something like Thrive to come along,’ he said.

Thrive, which also runs in other jurisdictions including Guernsey, works to the UN Global Goals – a set of 17 goals world leaders have agreed for a better world by 2030.

They include ending poverty, gender equality, affordable and clean energy, peace, justice and strong institutions and good health and wellbeing.

The 129 countries signed up also regularly report on progress on the goals, making it possible for Jersey to compare itself to jurisdictions around the world.

‘We have already had offers of funding and we have not gone out to ask for it,’ said Mr Le Seelleur.

He also praised the recent announcement that the government is to change the way it measures ‘performance’ by including the general wellbeing of Islanders rather than focusing solely on economic growth measures.

‘I welcome it and all the right noises are being made,’ he said. ‘We just need to see a little bit more proactive, entrepreneurial spirit. At the moment there is too much focus on failing GDP and productivity and that just drives low mood.’

Lucy Stephenson

By Lucy Stephenson
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