Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) aims to promote conversation around a particular topic each year, as part of the Mental Health Foundation’s campaign for a mentally healthy society. This year the theme is #kindness.
To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 (18-24 May) our Healthwatch Southwark team have pulled out key findings and quotes from their mental health work over the past four years. You can read about what they know about Southwark's mental health, and find out about this year's MHAW theme, here in this blog.
Being kind to others is good for our own mental health, and kindness is very important during times of uncertainty. Seeing and hearing ‘good news stories’ has helped lots of people feel better and calmer during the coronavirus pandemic. However, kindness also doesn’t mean we can't talk about the issues in our society and healthcare system.
We are sharing 'good news stories' from groups and individuals, see our first one here. Please do send us yours to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or @cosouthwark. Let's celebrate the thousands of acts of kindness that are so important to our mental health both inside and outside of the workplace.
To recognise MHAW this year, the Healthwatch Southwark teams want to highlight some of the work they’ve done with Southwark residents around mental health over the past four years. People have shared difficult thoughts, feelings and experiences about their health and the care they’ve received. This in itself is an act of kindness, to the services they want to improve for others, and sometimes even to themselves. People often feel better just by being open and talking to the Healthatch team about the issues they’ve had with health and social care services.
"Sometimes while you're talking you realise the solution and the logic behind it and it makes more sense; you get epiphanies; speaking helps you be rational."
— Young Voices on Mental Health, 2016
The Healthwatch Soutwark team always try and have a mental health strand to their work. It is a prominent issue in Southwark, and this was reinforced by the team's priority setting exercise in early 2017, where mental health in general was ranked highly among the areas needing their attention. Here are some key findings and quotes from Healthwatch Sothwark's mental health research over the past four years.
2019-2020: The Impact of Caring on Unpaid Carers
How did they engage? A survey, interviews and focus groups with 78 carers and an event.
What were some key findings?
- 58% of the participants said that caring had a negative or strongly negative impact on their mental health.
- They said that this was because of:
- Chronic worry about the person they are caring for and their future,
- Sleep deprivation and tiredness, and
- Loss of personal time for self care or building and maintaining relationships.
What is one thing carers wanted from services to help their mental health? More ongoing and less rigid support, such as mental health drop-ins for carers, regular check-ins with a ‘key contact’, and more flexible respite.
What is one thing that has been done in Southwark to help carers with their mental health? In 2019 Southwark Council set up a Carers Pathway Board to improve the process by which carers access and receive support, at every stage of their contact with services. Healthwatch Southwark is involved in the board to ensure that unpaid carers' voices are heard.
Read the full report to find out more here
"I used to get 3-4 hours’ sleep per night, as my husband was walking around the house banging and hallucinating…I was frightened because I did not know how things would evolve from one minute to the next."
— The Impact of Caring on Unpaid Carers, 2020
2018-2019: Strong in Southwark: The Experiences of Southwark's LGBTQ+ Community
How did they engage? A survey with 210 local people and an event.
What were some key findings?
- Many participants felt that LGBTQ+ people are a neglected community with specific needs, including more prevalent mental health difficulties.
- 71% of respondents felt there was a need for LGBTQ+ specific services (including mental health services).
- 42% of respondents had accessed a mental health service within the last two years.
- Notably, 27% of these had received private counselling - sometimes outside of the borough - often so they could receive an LGBTQ+ specific (or more welcoming) service.
What is one thing LGBTQ+ people wanted from services to help their mental health? A specialist LGBTQ+ mental health service.
What is one thing that has been done in Southwark to help LGBTQ+ people with their mental health? In 2019 Melbourne Grove and Hambleden Medical Practice is the first GP surgery in Southwark to receive a Pride in Practice Gold award for meeting the needs of LGBT patients.
Read the full report here
Service Spotlight: online and phone mental health support
Healthwatch Southwark have put a spotlight on the services and organisations offering mental health support by phone or online during the coronavirus outbreak. Take a look.
Healthwatch Southwark need to hear from you
Tell them about your experiences of health and social care in Southwark right now. Your answers will help to improve things locally, now and in the future, including much needed mental health services.
Good new stories: #Kindness
What can you do for Mental Health Awareness Week?
The Mental Health Foundation have ways to get involved, take action and lots of resources that you can download. Take a look.