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Borough backs World Mental Health Day

Waltham Forest is showing its support for World Mental Health Day on 10 October, as local organisations come together to promote good mental health and shine a spotlight on services available to residents.

The theme of this year’s event, which aims to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilise efforts in support of mental health, is “psychological first aid and the support people can provide to those in distress”.

The Council’s public health team, alongside local partners including NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT), is offering various training opportunities and running a number of initiatives to raise awareness of and promote good mental health in support of the global event.

The borough’s Youth Health Champions – secondary school students trained as peer mentors to increase awareness of healthy lifestyles and encourage involvement in activities to promote good health – have been given information to share with classmates about the Time to Change campaign, which aims to end mental health discrimination, as well as an anti-stigma video commissioned by Waltham Forest CCG this year.

The Youth Health Champions at Walthamstow’s Kelmscott School, with support from the Council, have already planned two health and wellbeing events for Year 10 and Year 11 this month, and Rushcroft Foundation School, in Chingford, is embarking on a campaign around stress and mental health.

Primary and secondary schools can choose to sign up to the in-school counselling service run by children's mental health charity Place2be, which involves offering emotional and therapeutic services - building children's resilience through talking, creative work and play.

In addition, the public health team is offering specialist training to school staff to ensure they are well placed to provide effective support to pupils with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

The team is providing mental health first aid (MHFA) training to teachers, along with staff across a wide variety of Council departments, firemen, social workers, community workers, and police officers. MHFA training is an internationally recognised course that teaches people to be able to recognise the signs of emotional distress and how to provide support.

One way in which Waltham Forest residents can access support for problems that affect their health and wellbeing, such as social isolation, unemployment and housing is through the borough’s innovative new social prescribing service.

A joint initiative set up by the Council and Waltham Forest CCG – and part of the Waltham Forest Better Care Together Programme – the service aims to support people who go to their GP, adult social care or other healthcare professional and are found to need help for non-medical problems that affect their health and wellbeing – for example people could be referred to a befriending scheme, receive benefits advice or be given employability training.

Cllr Ahsan Khan, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “We want to do our bit to show our support for World Mental Health Day, and help promote the importance of good mental health amongst young and old alike.

“The occasion also allows us to give residents a timely reminder of the many different support services available to people in need in Waltham Forest. Asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of, and I’d encourage anyone experiencing problems to speak to their GP, healthcare professional or contact a relevant support organisation or charity.”

Other mental health services and initiatives available to residents include Coping Through Football, which is organised by Leyton Orient Trust and NELFT to provide football activities for people who have experienced social exclusion or poor mental health, and free NHS service Talking therapies, which offers psychological support for adults experiencing a range of mental health difficulties. Alternatively, Samaritans phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for those who need someone to talk to about their problems.

You can find a range of available support services in Waltham Forest online by visiting the Council’s website or reading a mental health directory on Waltham Forest CCG’s website.

Notes to editors

Better Care Together

Better Care Together is a Waltham Forest-wide programme to join up all of the different health and social care services in our borough. This type of work is also commonly known as ‘integrated care’.

By getting health and social care organisations working together as one team we can shape services around the needs of the people who use them, rather than asking patients to go and speak with lots of different organisations to try and get the care and support they need.

More information can be found on the Better Care Together webpage on NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group’s website.

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