World Mental Health Day funding boost to Kent groups dedicated to saving lives

Image Newscast Online/Mind

Kent and Medway Suicide Prevention Team is marking World Mental Health Day (10th October) by announcing 11 projects dedicated to preventing suicide, saving lives and reducing self-harm that have secured funding to support their communities.

Initiatives that give dads safe spaces to talk about parenting, and help children get their life back on track after losing someone close, are among those awarded grants of between £500 and £15,000.

Mind in Bexley and East Kent has won funding to help destigmatise mental health by offering veterans the chance to record on video, audio and in writing their individual stories, creating a digital bank of memories for their families, wider community and future generations to view.

‘Incredible work’

Image via LDRS

Announcing the outcome of 2023/24 round of the Kent and Medway Better Mental Health and Wellbeing Community Fund, Kent County Council (KCC) Deputy Director of Public Health, Dr Ellen Schwartz, said: “The impressive standard of applications is testimony to the incredible work going on to help residents have better mental health.

“It’s also fitting we celebrate our latest applicants’ success on World Mental Health Day as they are driven by the awareness day’s theme that ‘Mental health is a universal human right’.

“We know from previous funding rounds that grants in the right hands go a long way and have an inspirational impact for the people the projects are working to support. With COVID-19 and the cost of living still casting shadows over many lives, having hope and sharing hard times is more important than ever before.”


NHS Kent and Medway’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kate Langford, said: “So many factors can affect our mental wellbeing as the wide range of projects receiving funding shows.

“Smaller projects and initiatives at a grassroot-level can provide people with more specific support according to their situation and helps to build resilient communities.”

Over the past five years, the Kent and Medway Suicide Prevention Team has supported over 90 organisations focused on preventing suicide through a range of funding.

The Kent and Medway Better Mental Health and Wellbeing Community Fund was launched last year, with 26 organisations awarded annual grants.

Ambassadors Spencer and Luke from F&S Barbers in Minster

The East Kent Mind Barber Shop Project was one of the successful first-round applications. It aimed to train between 15 to 20 barbers in the Thanet and Canterbury district areas so they could spot signs of depression, be non-judgemental listeners and guide people to services delivered by the charity sector and NHS.

The initiative ended up exceeding its target, training 28 barbers. Stickers were also developed to display in barber shop windows and mirrors to encourage men to open up about mental health. ‘Conversations from the barber’s chair’ were also recorded and can be watched here and here.

The Suicide Prevention programme is funded by Kent and Medway Integrated Care Board and delivered through the Kent and Medway Suicide Prevention Joint Strategy.

Grant recipients:

  • ABIGAIL’S FOOTSTEPS – a Rochester-located baby loss charity providing support and counselling for bereaved parents and families.  It also runs specialist bereavement training for midwives and healthcare professionals
  • DadSpace – gives fathers safe places in Maidstone, Sevenoaks and soon to be Ashford, to share experiences of parenting
  • DOVER BIG LOCAL CIC – developing a tailormade support package for Dover Big Local volunteers with mental health and neurodivergent issues
  • FAVERSHAM LITERARY FESTIVAL – funding to include on the festival programme a minimum of three events specifically talking about experiences of suicide, plus two workshops
  • MEDWAY DIVERSITY FORUM – aiming to connect grassroot British Minority Ethnic people through visual art and poetry workshops to relieve the pressures of mental ill health
  • MIND IN BEXLEY AND EAST KENT – helping to destigmatise mental health by offering veterans the chance to record on video, audio and in writing their individual stories, creating a digital bank of memories for their families, wider community and future generations to view
  • MIND SOUTH KENT – working with children and young people to look at how the financial crisis has impacted their own feelings of stress and anxiety within their family and provide the tools to help manage this
  • MIND WEST KENT – providing co-produced support for LGBTQIA young adults, 18-30-years-old, who are experiencing poor mental health and self-harm, or are at risk of self-harming or suicide across the West Kent area
  • SLIDE AWAY – based in Wrotham, helping children and young people get back on their feet after bereavement
  • TONBRIDGE AND MALLING BOROUGH COUNCIL – supporting a men’s mental health group through OneYou Kent in partnership with West Kent Mind
  • UNSTOPPABLE GIRLS – working with teenage and young adult females living with ADHD in the Ashford area

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