A CAMPAIGN to improve mental health services is off to a running start after a donation from a businessman.

Dorset Mind is fundraising to improve mental health support services in Dorchester, and a launch event raised more than £2,100 to start things off.

The mental health charity has partnered with David Upshall Insurance Services in the campaign, who donated an initial £1,000 and has an ‘auction of promises’ planned as the next fundraising event in September.

Dorchester’s Mayor, Cllr Susie Hosford, local business people and key members of the community were invited to attend the launch event at Kingston Maurward College. 

Ex-Mayoress Anita Harries spoke about her lived experience of mental health to illustrate how it affects her and Dorset Mind’s Patron, Dr Andy Mayers, followed Anita with a short presentation about mental health and the importance of safe and responsive support services. He introduced Dorset Mind and their plans to implement such services in Dorchester.

It’s estimated that approximately 128,000 people in Dorset are living with mental health difficulties.

Dr Mayers said: “There are currently few mental health services in Dorchester and West Dorset without significant waiting times. To compound this, the recent Dorset CCG (Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group) Review recommended that the majority of statutory services should move to the east of the county.

“This is where Dorset Mind hopes to help ease the burden somewhat. We recognise that when someone is in a mental health crisis they need help straight away – and help that is easily reached.”

Apart from their Befriending Service, consisting of one-to-one individual support from a trained volunteer, Dorset Mind’s support groups operate on a self-referral basis. That is, people can simply turn up and attend a group immediately without a recommendation from a health professional. This means there is no lengthy waiting to access support.

David Upshall, Senior Partner of David Upshall Insurance Services said: “Mental illness and stress are a growing problem, especially when you consider the pace and pressures of everyday life. Here in West Dorset it’s no different. I’m truly delighted to link up with Dorset Mind and help them build services in this part of the county.” 

“We are putting together a fundraising calendar with a series of events planned over the next few months. However it’s not just about fundraising, we also intend to raise mental health awareness. The team at Dorset Mind is already starting to plan how the funds can be used to help Dorchester and the West Dorset community.”

It’s hoped that services can be launched early next year – but £35,000 needs to be raised.

To donate, search Dorset Mind West at uk.virginmoneygiving.com