Mental Health Awareness Week (15th to 21st May 2023) is an annual event when there is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. The Mental Health Foundation started the event 22 years ago. Each year the Foundation continues to set the theme, organise and host the week. The event has grown to become one of the biggest awareness weeks across the UK and globally.
The theme this year is Anxiety.
The Mental Health Foundation explain that anxiety is a normal emotion in us all, but sometimes it can get out of control and become a mental health problem.
Lots of things can lead to feelings of anxiety, including exam pressures, relationships, starting a new job (or losing one) or other big life events. We can also get anxious when it comes to things to do with money and not being able to meet our basic needs, like heating our home or buying food.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems we can face. In a recent mental health survey they carried out around stress, anxiety and hopelessness over personal finances, a quarter of adults said they felt so anxious that it stopped them from doing the things they want to do some or all of the time. Six in ten adults feel this way, at least some of the time. On a positive note, anxiety can be made easier to manage.
Focusing on anxiety for this year's Mental Health Awareness Week will increase people's awareness and understanding of anxiety by providing information on the things that can help prevent it from becoming a problem. At the same time, the Mental Health Foundation will keep up the pressure to demand change - making sure that improving mental health is a key priority for the government and society as a whole.
In recent times we have all be in the same storm but in different boats, experiencing a wide range of thoughts and feelings. There is no doubt that this may have negatively impacted on people’s wellbeing and mental health.
For many during the pandemic, technology was fantastic in enabling us to stay connected with loved ones, helped us to work from home, provided a platform for online learning and to gain access to wellbeing resources, however, we should recognise that everyone’s needs are different. Some may have experienced feelings of loneliness through isolation in lockdown and the aftermath and still be anxious about navigating the new world ahead. Whatever you are feeling right now, please know that you are not alone and that there is always help available.
We know that good mental health can have a great impact on the life outcomes of young people. We also know the benefits of connecting with others though social activities and achievements. The Princes Trust offer the opportunity for young people to stretch and grow through their programmes of life experiences.
The Five Ways to Wellbeing researched and developed by The New Economics Foundation is a great way to explore ways to look after our mental health and wellbeing. Start taking action today by listing the things that you can do to Connect, Be active, Take notice, Keep learning and Give.
It is vital that staff keep healthy in their roles.
Here are some top tips for topping up your wellbeing cup from Kelly Hannaghan (Mental Health and Wellbeing Consultant):
She also suggests remembering to make healthy habits for self-care as shown in the infographic below:
LGfL has a dedicated Mental Health and Wellbeing site; intended to support schools to develop a positive culture and talk about "mental wealth". The videos explore the range of unique training opportunities offered to the LGfL community to support schools wherever they are currently on their journey regarding mental health and wellbeing for both staff and pupils.
The videos feature Kelly Hannaghan (mentioned above) explores "why is it important to measure wellbeing and mental health?". Watch below:
Best For You is an NHS mental health project for young people (we have a link to it from our Mental Health and Wellbeing site) . It aims to reduce stigma, improve knowledge and awareness of mental health, and connect different aspects of mental health support to make it easier for young people and families to find and access the mental health help they need.
Best For You is run by three NHS Trusts and an NHS charity, with partnerships with a range of community organisations and young people are involved in designing and feeding back on every aspect of Best For You.
The Best For You website and app library launched in 2021, and gives young people high-quality information and support about mental health and wellbeing. Community partnerships mean young people can get involved with exciting opportunities that improve wellbeing, and a drop in space for young people to access support.
Crucially, Best For You works with educational settings to make sure that young people are aware of everything on offer through Best For You. If you have any feedback, or want to get involved with the project, please email BestForYou@cwplus.org.uk
Below Chris Chaney (CEO CW+) explains why we need to focus on wellbeing not mental health. 'I think we need to make the conversation about mental health and not about mental health illness, but about wellbeing. Wellbeing equals prevention; and prevention is good for all of us.'
This video is amongst six which appear on our Mental Health and Wellbeing site.
LGfL's Wellbeing Connected for primary schools resource brings the key information (featuring experienced practitioners) through video and text format with a quick and accessible interface.
The resource is grouped into the following areas:
The portal is designed to be used by staff within schools to plan their whole school approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing and how all parts of the school community can be supported. The expert video clips, information packs and carefully curated external links are provided for staff to deliver comprehensive support. Alongside videos, there are also template policies, wellbeing questionnaires and guidance for schools to use and adapt as well as thinking points that can be used as part of staff development looking at the importance of wellbeing for staff, the community and for the video below the importance of Mental Health and Wellbeing for pupils.
LGfL's Healthy Minds was produced in partnership with the leading mental health charity for young people - Young Minds. The resource features a range of teacher led activities involving group work promoting self reflection and video content with supporting activities. The main activities are designed for use with learners in upper KS2, KS3 and KS4 with some resources designed for use by staff and/or for parents.
The resource is split into the following sections:
As part of the ongoing partnership between LGfL and Child Bereavement UK, the Bereavement Toolkit brings together a suite of support material for school communities to manage different aspects of bereavement for young people. The toolkit features three separate but inter-related resources: Managing a Sudden Death, Supporting a Bereaved Pupil and Having Honest Conversations About Death and Grief. The portal aims to give confidence to teachers and educational professionals working with young people in schools to help them prepare and confidently engage in discussions, equipping them with skills and techniques to last them into their adult lives.