World Mental Health Day is celebrated on October 10th every year. The day is marked for global mental health education and awareness and celebrated to advocate against social stigma associated with mental health issues.

This year's World Mental Health Day focus for is to give everybody the right access to mental health support. The theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is 'Mental Health in an Unequal World', where we will focus on the inequalities within the mental health system and recognise the inequalities prevalent within society.

In North Tyneside, we’ve already done so much together, but this World Mental Health Day is a chance to speak out, spread the word and make that change happen, so that everyone receives the support and respect they deserve with their mental health and isn’t subject to discrimination through race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, and class.  Everybody should have the right to access mental health support.

COVID-19 has affected individuals differently and everyone’s experience of it is different. Illness or fear of it, the impact of government restrictions or worry about the looming economic situation affect all of us differently, but it is the mental health of those already experiencing health inequalities who will endure a greater impact.  Globally, from March last year there was a gradual increase in the prevalence of mental health difficulties primarily anxiety and depression. For many people, uncertainty caused by the virus, together with lockdown measures exacerbated these difficulties, while other problems such as loneliness, boredom, anxiety about income and jobs increased.

COVID-19 and resultant restrictions disrupted the routines, activities, and relationships that we all rely on to manage our mental health day-to-day.

North Tyneside’s Joint Strategic Needs Analysis shows a lower life expectancy and healthy life expectancy and slower improvements when compared to the figures for England as a whole. In addition, the Marmot Review 10 Years on, published in February 2020, highlighted that not enough progress had been made over the past decade to address unjust and avoidable differences in people’s health and wellbeing across the country. The COVID-19 pandemic and the wider governmental and societal response have further exposed the inequalities in North Tyneside.

We are asking the public and partners in North Tyneside to do one thing this World Mental Health Day and speak out against mental health inequality.  How can I do this?  Here’s how:

  • Start a conversation with friends, family, or colleagues about mental health
  • Signpost people to local mental health support, visit Living Well North Tyneside:
  • https://www.livingwellnorthtyneside.co.uk/ for more information, on support available across North Tyneside
  • Connecting with Others
  • Connection with others, whether it’s with friends, family or colleagues is essential to our mental wellbeing.

Exercise

We normally talk about exercise with regards to its physical benefits. Exercise is important for maintaining a healthy weight and keeping fit. However, most people who exercise do it for the mental health gains. Regular exercise is a key element to maintaining mental wellbeing. Exercise has been shown to help relieve stress, improve sleep, and enhance mood. Physical activity just 3 times per week for up to 30 minutes has been proven to improve self- esteem, cognitive functionality, and mood.

Learning

Research has shown that continuous learning and skill enhancement is significantly beneficial to a person’s mental wellbeing. Learning something new brings an element of excitement into life and a renewed hope for future possibilities. As you grow older, education becomes less formal and can take many shapes.

Kindness

Studies suggest that acts of kindness and giving are linked with positive mental health and wellbeing. Volunteering to help others has been shown to have a healthy impact on a person’s life and mindset. Acts of kindness come in many forms from picking up the shopping for an elderly neighbour to volunteering within your local community.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be defined as bringing yourself into the present moment and focusing your consciousness on what is happening in the now. It can help you to enjoy the world around you to the fullest and not dwell on worn out thought patterns about the past or the future. Daily mindfulness practices could include taking notice of your surroundings, choosing to be aware of the world rather than simply existing within it and paying attention to your thoughts. Research has shown that practicing mindfulness can have positive effects on an individual’s mental wellbeing and psychological health.

Launchpad have been working in partnership with AIM and Supporting Stars to organise an opportunity for people to mark World Mental Health Day, although the activity doesn't need to happen on the day itself.  We'd like to ask interested people and groups if they would like to take a Mindful Walk; choosing your own route, date, and time, and invite you to take photographs during the walk which you can then enter into two different competitions. The closing date for the competition is Friday 29 October, with a chance for your photo to be featured in the AIM Arts Calendar 2022 (closing Date 21st Nov). Send photos for both competitions to info@aimmentalhealth.org.uk, for entry forms and rules visit www.aimmentalhealth.org.uk

As part of World Mental Health Day, the Better Health - Every Mind Matters campaign is focusing on “What works for me”, demonstrating how simple actions can help us deal with stress and anxiety, improve our sleep, boost our mood and feel more in control.

Every Mind Matters also has a range of resources to help parents look after the mental wellbeing of their children and for young people to care for their own mental health. Find out more and take the short quiz to devise your personalised Mind Plan at https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/