Opinion

Championing Good Mental Health

Jonathan Freeman MBE, CEO, CareTech Foundation

According to the World Health Organisation, one in four people around the world will suffer with a mental health condition in their lifetime.  I would venture that pretty much all of us have suffered a period of mental health difficulties.  Thankfully, public discourse around mental health issues is far more open than it was.  There is, though, still much more to be done, in terms of both promoting open discussion of mental health issues and, crucially, providing help to those who cannot access appropriate services.  At the CareTech Foundation, we are working hard to provide much-needed support to key projects, dedicated to helping people who have been adversely impacted by their mental health.

Alongside the COSARAF Foundation, we have supported the British Asian Trust to transform mental health services in Pakistan, increasing access to support and reducing stigma. Working with partners in Pakistan, the Trust has been able to provide support directly to where it was most needed, ensuring delivery through accessible and affordable channels for all.  Mental health support has been provided alongside clinical treatment plans, developing a programme specifically for mothers and another providing a referral service for children and adults on the street, with addiction and substance abuse issues.

In just three years, the British Asian Trust’s social media campaign reached 16.8 million people, increased access for 1.5 million people to actively attend mental health awareness raising sessions. It provided mental health support services to 95,941 individuals at clinical and non-clinical levels and trained 1,988 practitioners to identify, refer and support people with their mental health.

In addition to this partnership, realising that mental health impacts people of all ages and interventions at an early age can make all the difference, we have supported Depaul UK over the last three years. The programme focusing on supporting homeless young people aged 16-25 in Depaul’s services in the North East of England, equipping young people to better manage their mental health needs.

Deborah Legg, a Depaul mental health worker in the North East, said:

“Every day I see the close link between poor mental health and homelessness. Unless we can help young people to build resilience and develop their own coping mechanisms, we won’t be successful in tackling homelessness in the long term. This project is giving young people the skills and confidence to maintain their own wellbeing. It’s an important first step in a difficult process to helping them into independent living and giving them the tools to thrive in the future.”

Appreciating the importance of early intervention and the benefits of accessible, affordable, physical outlets for young people, we entered into a partnership with OnSide Youth Zones across 13 of their Youth Zone sites. The partnership on this programme, “Bridging the Gap”, supports the training of OnSide’s staff as a result of which over 10,000 young people will learn more about their mental health and wellbeing.

We, at the Foundation, have made a commitment to ensure mental health initiatives remain a priority for us and we continue to work with a range of organisations operating in this space.  Since 2017, we have committed over £613,000 to mental health initiatives through multi-year partnerships.  We are keen to grow our support in this important area and to provide help to those projects that need it the most. As the challenges to combat mental health continue to grow, so will our efforts.  We are in this for the long haul!

Mental Health is a broad area to cover and the pandemic has only served to highlight the challenges.  As we return to some degree of what life was before, we must be aware of individual and collective needs to promote good mental health. A key catalyst in achieving this will be collaborating together and being confident to identify our own needs as well as those of others. By ‘championing good mental health’, we must all strive to improve our own understanding, fight against the stigma that too often attaches to these issues, and work together to ensure mental health provision is available to all.

@jonathanfreeman

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