BOB Smytherman is a very well-known figure.

He’s the Worthing town crier, a former mayor and current borough and county councillor.

He also has a drive to promote greater awareness around the problem of mental health.

Mental Health Awareness Week is running this week, led by Bob and colleague Carol Barber.

And today is Mental Health Awareness Day.

Bob said: “One of my sisters committed suicide in 1990 and my nephew sadly did the same just three years ago.

“I also have another close family friend experiencing severe mental health issues as well at the moment and when I cared for my mother she had depression.

“It is a very important part of everyone’s life and I’m very aware of it as well.”

Bob, 50, is organising the week of events with his friend Carol.

The pair have been co-ordinating this special five days for six years.

Carol said: “Back in 2009, I suffered PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and I needed help.

“I didn’t know where to go and I actually travelled from Worthing to Epsom in Surrey to a function.

“The organisers were amazed that I had travelled so far but I needed some help.

“Some of the support I have received has been good, some not so good.

“I was shocked by the stigma and discrimination around mental health.

“I felt expectations within the NHS were too low.

“In 2012 I felt that we’ve got to do something and that is when Bob and me came together to organise the week.”

Some 60 organisations will be involved during the five days of activities.

Carol said: “We are trying to break down barriers.

“It grieves me that there are people out there needing help without a voice.

“I know there are people out there too frightened to even go to their GP.

“We create a safe environment where people can feel relaxed.

“Last year more than 500 people came to at least one of the activities, and we’re hopeful we can reach out to even more this year.

“We want people to feel less fearful, it’s about building understanding and sharing help.

“We need people to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. You can live well if you have a mental health condition.”

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