Durham County Council highlighted the importance of mental health support and services ahead of World Mental Health Day at the weekend.
To mark World Mental Health Day, which was on Sunday October 10, the local authority supported its commissioned service, the Stamp It Out Partnership Hub, to focus on inequality with the theme ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’.
The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day each year, with the theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health.
This year’s theme underlines the pressing need to focus sufficiently on health beyond the physical in a sustained way in a world still struggling to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Cllr Paul Sexton, the council’s cabinet member for adult and health services and its Mental Health Champion, said: “As a council we are committed to helping people improve their wellbeing, both physically and mentally.
“World Mental Health Day is a timely reminder for us all to look after our mental wellbeing, particularly following the uncertain times we have all experienced since early 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“If you feel that you are struggling with mental health issues, please take the time to make yourself aware of the various help and support that is on offer. Don’t suffer in silence because it really is okay to not feel okay.”
To coincide with World Mental Health Day, the Stamp It Out Partnership Hub has launched a new website where teachers, young people and families, workplaces and community groups can access a range of free resources, find out about the partnership’s campaigns and events and sign up to become Anti-Stigma Ambassadors.
The partnership hub is led by Anti-Stigma Ambassadors who are people of all ages with personal lived experience of mental health issues and conditions and who have a passion for challenging mental health stigma and discrimination.
Stamp It Out is inviting the public to take part in training to become Anti-Stigma Ambassadors, so they can help create change for the benefit of all living in County Durham.
Daniel Gent, lead Anti-Stigma Ambassador for young people, said: “As an Anti-Stigma Ambassador, I have been able to leave a mark on the area that I live in and use my own experiences to make a change in how mental health is viewed in the community, as well as raise awareness of the impact that mental health has on people.
“I have been given the opportunity to focus on young people and give them more of a voice in these trying times and ensure that the help they reach out for is tailored for them and for what they need, as well as giving them someone who is always there to listen.”
Depending on skills and interests there are many ways for people to get involved and have a voice in helping to change attitudes towards those living with a mental health condition or experiencing mental health issues.
Chris Affleck, Stamp It Out co-ordinator and Mental Health Lead with Investing in Children said: “Mental health affects all of us in some way as one in four people will experience a mental health problem each year in England, and this figure may rise given the challenges people have experienced during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Stamp It Out Partnership Hub works to promote and protect the health of the public, particularly those living with mental health conditions, in County Durham and the surrounding areas.
“This is done by educating the public in all areas relating to mental health conditions to reduce stigma and discrimination towards people who experience mental health problems and to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of poor mental health.”
Those interested in becoming an Anti-Stigma Ambassador, signing up to be a member of the hub, or who would like to find out more information about Stamp It Out can go to stampitoutcountydurham.co.uk.