(Photo taken by Ranya Mulchandani at Changing Minds Festival)
This week marks a turning point in talking about mental health. In The Mind reaches mainstream BBC One audiences, demonstrating how far the nation has come towards reaching this goal.
The “In the Mind” fortnight, originating on BBC Three, is an exploration of mental health issues across the news, dramas and full-length documentaries. This new broadcasting schedule sits alongside more established campaigns such as Time to Talk and Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week.
This week has also seen the release of a report by the NHS independent mental health taskforce, a first of its kind. This document focuses on the importance of prevention and the integration of physical and mental health services to better support those with mental health issues, in a system under strain.
The Mental Health Foundationsupports this mission. James Harris, Head of Media and Communication at the Foundation told Selfless “Prevention is at the heart of what we do because the best way to deal with a crisis is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Beyond the cost to the economy, which is around £100 billion a year, poor mental health destroys lives”.
Creative ways to better support those suffering from mental health issues are changing the face of frontline services. Investment into training barbers in talking therapies has re-invented a location where many men are served “on an emotional, intellectual and cultural level”.
The Changing Minds Festival at the Southbank Centre used performances and workshops to explore the role of arts in mental illness recovery. One popular idea was the “Arts Pharmacy” where you could receive an arts prescription for your current mental health needs.
Anastasia Bow-Bertrand, a student of Global Health and Development at UCL and former volunteer for Selfless recently spoke at TEDx about the importance of self-care.
“ I shared how writing about my health was an incredibly important, and easily replicable tool for establishing personal growth and wellbeing. Indeed, ‘writing health’ is a standalone area of the websiteI run which has received some fascinating contributions on psychological conditions and care.”
Juliette Burton, Comedian and Actress who speaks about her own mental health challenges, told Selfless that she would “love to see our government fund [initiatives that improve mental well-being] in the school curriculum, to start a dialogue at a younger age to place a stronger emphasis on prevention instead of cure. I would also love to see support dogs provided as is a regular occurence in the US. I think this, and other “alternative” therapies such as massage therapy, is highly underrated in the UK and that attitude holds us back”
This all demonstrates that there are many ways we can work together to better support those suffering from mental health issues. With one in four adults suffering with mental ill health at some point in their lives, everyone will be affected in some way from such issues.
It is clear that tackling mental health issues is gaining political tractionacross all parties. Selfless contacted Labour MP Luciana Berger to ask her priorities as she begins her new role.
‘The creation of a Shadow Cabinet role for mental health is an indication of how far we have come in tackling stigma and dragging the issue out of the shadows to make it a political priority.
One of my key priorities is to tackle the stigma and prejudice often faced by those experiencing mental health problems”
But despite this growing political consensus, 1bn recently pledged by the government is only just the beginning. Collective action must be taken to tackle the stigma and make sure things like thisdo not happen again. Innovative ideas of any size are essential, and can make a real difference.