A NEW campaign has been launched to banish the stigma surrounding people seeking support during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Inverclyde Community Action Response Group has established the Sign of Strength (SOS) drive and unveiled it with images projected on to Gourock's Tower Hill, pictured.

The aim is to ensure that people get the help they need, by offering one point of contact for a wide range of support services.

Louise Hunter from ICARG, pictured, said: "The campaign focuses on the premise that it’s a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness to ask for help.

"It came about as a result of ICARG volunteers noticing a pattern developing, particularly amongst elderly men, who needed help but didn’t want to be a nuisance by asking for assistance.

"We felt that needed to be addressed.

"We wanted to create a campaign that cuts right across all sectors of the community.

"Lockdown is easing, but there are still many who need support and we want to reinforce that it is absolutely okay to ask for help, no matter what it might be for – whether it's shopping or picking up medicines, or just having a chat."

Mind Mosaic Counselling & Therapy is helping to fund the new initiative.

Its chief executive, Gwyneth MacDonald, says lockdown has had an untold impact on people's mental health which will be felt in the weeks and months to come.

Gwyneth said: "There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic is having a huge effect on our mental health, with a predicted significant increase in people suffering mental health issues over the coming months and years.

"As we ease out of lockdown we are already witnessing an increase in stress and anxiety. However levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use or suicidal behaviour are also expected to rise.

"Inverclyde, which has some of the highest levels of poverty and deprivation in Scotland, has been adversely affected by higher levels of Covid-19 and higher death rates.

"The link between poverty and mental health has been recognised for many years and is well evidenced.

"In general, people living in financial hardship are at increased risk of mental health problems and lower mental wellbeing."

Louise asked two Creative Inverclyde members, Mark Hutton, of Hutton Creative Design, and Garth Ivan Linscott of GarthIvan Photo & Creative, to create a publicity campaign which will be rolled out across social media, print advertising and billboards as well as projecting more images onto iconic buildings throughout Inverclyde for the next month.

The campaign has been financed by Mind Mosaic, local company Succession Wealth Management and the Innerkip Society charity.

*Anyone who needs help should call the council on 01475 715275.


Tower Hill images courtesy of Stephen Henry/Mark Hutton.