HEARTFELT messages have been left at Shirley Park in a bid to offer someone struggling with mental health hope.
Katie Houghton decorated the entrance to the Stratford Road Park with 150 ‘Hearts Of Hope’ as part of World Mental Health Day on October 10.
After being given permission from Solihull council she spent a few weeks hand-writing messages of hope, inspiration and challenging the stigma around mental health to tie to the wall.
Katie said: “I wanted to create something very bright and colourful that would make people stop and read them and create conversation around mental health as so many people are still scared to talk about it.
“I hoped it would encourage people struggling to talk to someone and for it to be a reason for people to feel its ok to be open about how they are feeling.
“They are all laminated and attached with pipe cleaners so that they are removable and the aim is that people will read them and also take one or two away if they are struggling with mental health themselves or know someone that is.”
Katie said people started speaking to her about themselves or family members with mental health issues and she heard a mum had spoken to her daughter about the hearts and what they were for.
She added: “The response to the hearts of hope has been absolutely amazing and I think things like this make people feel like they can speak about mental health and that is so important as a lot of time mental health lives in silence and that is why people go on to end their lives.”
This follows on from 150 notes of hope she attached to Muskett’s Way bridge in Redditch, a place known for people ending their lives by suicide, were removed by Worcestershire County Council which said it had a legal duty to act to avoid distractions for drivers using the highway.
The mental health campaigner, who has battled with mental health from her early teens including anorexia depression and bipolar disorder, started to give out notes of hope as part of her online blog.
In her blog, Mental Health Journey, she writes and uploads videos about mental health issues and also sends free ‘Happy Posts’ – a note of hope and inspiration in very bright colourful envelopes – to those struggling with their mental health.
Katie said: “I am a firm believer in the smallest thing can make the biggest difference.
“As someone that planned to end my own life around eight years ago and has come through that I want to offer hope to people who feel that it won’t get any better and try and reach out to those who are struggling.
“The night I planned to end my life it was a totally random message from a friend that most likely saved my life that night and sometimes that’s all it takes.
“A message, a note, something that someone wasn’t expecting and resonates with them and that’s what I try to do.”
Katie is hoping to complete another project in the run up to Christmas.