Mental Health Awareness Week: Hope
This blog was created by Chris Paul, Barnardo's Education Community Project Worker
Mental Health and wellbeing is an area that I am deeply passionate about and believe that having this passion to support others is something that requires attention and drive all year round. However, weeks like Mental Health Awareness help us shine a light on certain issues that may not be discussed usually, with a particular focus on local, regional and national press along with driven social media campaigns. These opportunities allow us to dig a bit deeper on issues that people face everyday.
Each year, the Mental Health Foundation decide on a theme for the week and tailor their input around this. This year is “Nature” and the possibilities to improve wellbeing and mental health within these environments are huge. Previous themes have been key areas such as “Sleep” and “Kindness”, all of which together are key areas to support mental health.
As I reflect back over the last 14 months within the global pandemic, hope has been something that has been important to hang on to at various stages. This has not been without it’s challenges, with the winter lockdown really causing prolonged periods of isolation and concern for lots of people across the country. The concern we had for the most vulnerable within our society exposed to higher levels of deprivation and poverty where evident as demand for food banks grew, along with those in poorer communities being impacted by Covid-19 more than those in affluent areas.
In amongst all of this deep concern, loss and trauma it has been cultivating hope that has allowed some people and communities to move forward as we bid to recover from such a devastating period in our life for our physical and mental health. The roll out of the vaccine programme across the UK has helped kickstart this hope. The return of our children and young people through the education buildings has allowed a level of normality to return. The loosening of restrictions and movement across the country has allowed connections to happen between family members again. It does appear that gradually, we are able to find sparkles of light and hope in the darkest of times and I really do hope that this can continue on through the summer and beyond.
This Mental Health Awareness week will hopefully help expose another area that I feel very passionate about and that is the stigma still attached to children, young people and families being able to open up about their worries and problems. Far too many people still believe that opening up is not worthwhile and keep their concerns internal. One thing that the pandemic has shown the majority of the country is how powerful it can be to feel isolated, lonely or cut off from those you care about and love. These deep feelings of low self-worth are what some people feel every day, pre and post pandemic.
My hope is that this last 14 months is the darkest we all collectively feel, as we move forward and recover into a brighter tomorrow. My hope is that those who are struggling, isolated and lonely feel able to reach into society for help and support. My hope is that children and young people continue to attend education safely, connecting with trusting adults when they need support. My hope is that on this Mental Health Awareness week, we shine a light on a brighter future and the possibilities that having a kinder, stigma-free society can bring.
Wider Reading and Resources
Mental Health Foundation - Tips
Mental Health Foundation – why nature?
Mental Health Foundation – FAQ’s
Mind – Nature and Everyday living
Newport Academy – Hope and Mental Health