World Mental Health Day for focus on wellbeing

By Chief Correspondent Rob Thomas

PEOPLE are being urged to take time on Sunday – World Mental Health Day, October 10 – to think about their own mental health and that of people around them.

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Adult Services and Public Health, said: “We all need good mental health and wellbeing – it’s essential to living happy and healthy lives, and can help us sleep better, feel better, do the things we want to do and have more positive relationships.”

The charity Mind lists 33 types of mental health problems ranging from agoraphobia to trauma, and organisations like the Mental Health Foundation emphasise: “Your mental health doesn’t always stay the same. It can change as circumstances change and as you move through different stages of your life.”

The World Health Organisation’s campaign website makes it clear that anybody suffering from mental ill health is not alone as the following statistics show:

  • nearly one billion people have a mental disorder and anyone, anywhere, can be affected;
  • depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease – it is estimated that 5 percent of adults are affected;
  • globally, one in seven 10 to 19-year-olds experience a mental disorder and half of all the conditions start by the age of 14 but most are undetected and untreated;
  • people with severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia tend to die 10 to 20 years earlier than the general population;
  • one in every 100 fatalities is by suicide, which is the fourth leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 29.

It adds: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on people’s mental health. Some groups, including health and other frontline workers, students, people living alone, and those with pre-existing mental health conditions, have been particularly affected.”

Recognising that there is a mental health issue – whether in one’s self or someone else – is seen as vital and the NHS has an online Mind Plan Quiz which asks five questions and offers tips and advice.

Councillor Fairhurst advocated using the quiz, saying: “When it comes to taking care of your mental wellbeing, having a plan is a great first step. By answering the five simple Mind Plan questions, adults receive an action plan with practical tips to help them deal with stress and anxiety, boost their mood, sleep better, and feel more in control.”

As well as raising awareness of mental health issues, the WHO’s theme for this year is, ‘Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality’.

Although offering support across most, if not all mental, health conditions, different organisations are highlighting different aspects for World Mental Health Day.

Home Start UK, a charity which supports families with young children, is featuring the story of Camilla, a first-time mother, who moved to Southsea and gave birth during the pandemic.

She said: “I wasn’t able to visit friends I’d made in my last home town of Bournemouth. My partner was working hard to build a life for us, so I was home all day with the baby. It was lonely. With no outside stimulation, as time went by I felt lower and lower.”

Having been recommended to a group, Camilla embarked on a nurturing programme and, learning and meeting others in the same situation, she made friends so she feels, “much more part of the community now. I really needed this and it’s made me feel 100 percent better.”

Specialist adult mental health services in the Fareham-Gosport area are provided by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which is emphasising its ‘Step Down’ project aiming to secure housing and employment for those recovering from mental illness.

Its Associate Director of Housing and Community Inclusion, Jon Pritchard, explained: “For those patients who have a stable home, discharge is more straight forward compared to those who maybe experiencing homelessness or other conditions that require more supervision.

“By discharging people, into safe, secure, and sustainable homes, we provide them with the first steps to independence.

“With some of our people, we’ve found that having the stability of a home has completely removed dependency on emergency departments for mental health support and also prevented inpatient stays completely.”

For those involved in promoting World Mental Health Day, it is about all of us being aware and, in the words of Councillor Fairhurst: “The little things we do for our mental wellbeing can improve our lives and help us cope with life’s challenges.”

Image (top): From the Mental Health Foundation