Public Health England, in partnership with the NHS, has launched Every Mind Matters, a new way of empowering people to manage and improve their mental health.
It is increasingly recognised that taking care of our mental health is as important as maintaining good physical health.
A new PHE survey reveals 84% of people in the South West have experienced early signs of poor mental health including feeling anxious, stressed, having low mood or trouble sleeping in the last 12 months.While these can be a natural response to life’s challenges, they can become more serious if people don’t take action – and many wait too long.
22% of people in the region who experienced signs of poor mental health waited at least six months before taking steps to manage their mental health, with 77% of those in the South West who waited this long wishing they had acted sooner.
Every Mind Matters shows people the simple steps they can take to be better prepared for life’s ups and downs. The new platform, which has been endorsed by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RGCP), will enable people to create a personalised action plan recommending a set of self-care actions to deal with stress, boost mood, improve sleep and feel in control.
A special film to promote Every Mind Matters has been written by Richard Curtis and directed by Rankin, narrated by Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. It shows how we can all look after our mental health and will be aired simultaneously at around 8:45pm tonight (Monday 7 October) simultaneously across ITV, Channel 4 and Sky channels.
The powerful film features a range of people whose lives have been affected by poor mental health, including a cast of well-known faces: Gillian Anderson, Glenn Close, Freddie Flintoff, Professor Green, Davina McCall, Jordan Stephens, Will Young, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Nadiya Hussain, Rob Beckett, Katie Piper, Joe Sugg and Alastair Campbell.
The launch follows eighteen months of planning and local and regional piloting, developed with clinical and academic experts, national mental health charities[†] and input from people with experience of poor mental health. Clinically-assured by the NHS, Every Mind Matters is evidence-based and it shows people how to build simple changes into their daily lives – such as reframing unhelpful thoughts, breathing exercises and increasing physical activity.
All of these have well evidenced impact on improving and maintaining good mental health, which can help people to feel and function better, have more positive relationships, manage difficult times and get more out of life – now and in the future.
Every Mind Matters is backed by a coalition of mental health charities and champions, including Mind, Mental Health First Aid England, Time to Change, Heads Together and the Samaritans.
This new resource is available for the public and for GPs to advise their patients to use. The NHS will also promote Every Mind Matters to its one-million plus workforce.
Some of the nation’s biggest companies from the high street, entertainment, sport and finance have pledged to adopt Every Mind Matters for their employees, customers and fans. These include Nationwide, Greggs and the England and Wales Cricket Board, who will be empowering their staff and the public to take their mental health into their own hands and encouraging them to create their own action plan.
Martin White, Health and Wellbeing Programme Manager for Mental Health at Public Health England South West said: “Our health is affected by our circumstances, including having a job, friends and a roof over our heads. Anxiety, stress, low mood and trouble sleeping can affect everyone. Every Mind Matters aims to help people to better handle life’s ups and downs.”
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “We all have mental health just as we all have physical health, and it can vary from good to poor. Most people know how important it is to look after their physical health and more and more people are understanding the need to look after their mental health as well, but lots of us don’t know where to start.
“That’s why Mind has been helping develop Every Mind Matters, to empower people with the tools they need to deal with everyday causes of stress, anxiety, low mood and trouble sleeping. Taking proactive steps like increasing physical activity and connecting with others can help prevent these issues developing into more serious mental health problems further down the line.
“At a time when only a third of people with a mental health problem get access to any kind of help and support, it’s important to do whatever we can to help people take steps to stay well and try and prevent mental health problems developing in the first place.
“We hope that this campaign will help increase public awareness of how we can all stay as mentally well as possible.”
Kim Walker, 48, from Newton Abbot suffered from stress and anxiety during and returning from working overseas.
From 2008-2015, Kim was working overseas in the Middle East when she first started to experience severe anxiety, leaving her emotionally exhausted. She would often find herself crying, criticising herself and thinking that she wasn’t good enough.
Kim returned to the UK in 2015 and began working in a different, but equally stressful environment. This led to her also having trouble sleeping and finding that she wasn’t able to meet up with friends or keep social appointments in the diary. Kim was struggling to cope with going to work and doing everyday tasks, such as cleaning the house. She would wake up in the night worrying about anything and everything.
This impacted her family too as they didn’t go out and would miss family occasions and events.
Kim said: “When I was feeling particularly anxious, I couldn’t pick up the phone to call people and struggled to answer the phone when it rang.
“In the end, I felt so bad that I saw my GP and explained that I felt I wasn’t coping. The doctor referred me to Talkworks, and they invited me to attend group therapy CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), which I started four weeks later.
“I found the sessions very useful and it surprised me to see people there from all walks of life and ages going through similar situations to me, I found it useful to talk to my peers about what I was experiencing.
“On the third week I had a bit of a breakthrough as this particular session taught techniques to manage my thoughts and deal with what the CBT team called ‘the poisoned parrot’ that was sat on my shoulder expressing my negative thoughts. These techniques included visualising the parrot, picking it up and putting it away in a cage and covering it up to keep it quiet and out of mind.
“The sessions have had such a massive impact on my life, my confidence has returned and I’m back out socialising with friends and family which I was unable to do before. I make time every day to go over the techniques I’ve learnt and if I find myself listening to that parrot, I pick it off my shoulder and put it back in its cage where it can’t trouble me.
“The person who noticed the biggest difference in me after the treatment was my husband, Adam, he has told me that since I’ve completed the course, he feels he has his wife back and the woman he married, not this other anxious and stressed person who had taken over. He thought that the course might have only been a temporary fix, but he can see now the long term change it’s had on me and all of us as a family.
I’d say to anyone having similar feelings to talk to someone as soon as possible, and that you absolutely don’t need to live like that. It was easy to get the help and support I needed and there is lots of help out there. Attending the six-week CBT course was one of the most positive things I have experienced, and I had great results from it.”
The PHE survey also found:
- 57% of people in the South West who experienced concerns about their mental health turned to unhealthy behaviours – smoking, drinking alcohol, unhealthy eating or taking recreational drugs
- 54% of people in the South West who experienced concerns about their mental health avoided social situations or contact from friends and family.
- Of those who took action, 31% only did so when it was having an impact on their daily life.
To discover simple steps for a healthier mind, create your bespoke action plan at: www.everymindmatters.co.uk