AN ORGANISATION which offers a befriending service and social support for people with mental health issues has been spreading the word about its work.

Representatives from St Helens Mind have been in situ at Marks and Spencer at Ravenhead Retail Park today to mark World Mental Health Day (October 10).

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The befriending service which offers social groups has been speaking to shoppers today making them aware of its services.

The independent local charity supports people who are isolated and lonely due to mental health difficulties.

Its aim is to support people aged 18-plus who are experiencing difficulties in St Helens borough so they can achieve their own full potential and play an active part in community life.

Its services are non-judgemental and offer opportunities to develop self-esteem and confidence by encouraging and supporting involvement.

While there has been a big drive to increase awareness of mental health issues, the group is hoping to make more people aware of its existence and increase its services to help people in need.

Mental health is an issue which has been in the spotlight in St Helens, with the town having the fifth highest suicide rate in England and Wales under the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics

Gill Ellison, manager of St Helens Mind, said: "I think awareness of mental health is increasing.

"The number of people who contact us has increased and that's why we try to get out as much as we can."

Lynn Bronilow, admin executive, said: "We are trying to make people aware that we are here in St Helens. People don't know that we exist and St Helens has a high suicide rate.

"We are based at Peasley Cross Hospital and have four people who work part-time and trying to do as much as we can."

Gill added: "Our long-term aim is to have our own premises where we could increase our services and open up the range of people we work with and have a greater range of activities.

"We are purely a social group and we are hoping we are getting through to more and more people."