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Reflections on World Mental Health Day.

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Reflections on World Mental Health Day.

Tomorrow, Saturday 10th October, is World Mental Health Day, with this years theme being Mental Health for All. 2020 has been an extraordinary year, with both our physical and mental health at the forefront of all our minds.

They are intrinsically linked, yet in the past often approached as if they were separate entities, with mental health the poor relation. To me it feels like that is changing, that mental health is on the agenda politically and socially. Issues of stigma are finally being addressed through high profile campaigns and those in the public eye speaking out (just in the last couple of weeks there was a fascinating documentary with Freddie Flintoff talking about his 20 year relationship with bulimia, catch it on iPlayer). Conversations seem to be happening that simply would not have taken place even 5 years ago, and are a world away from where we were 20 or 30 years ago.

But perhaps that is just my perspective and a function of my career path and my personal privilege? I am sure that is not the case for many others, and I might benefit from opening my eyes to the experiences of those who still feel stigma everyday, who aren’t able to discuss openly concerns about their mental or physical health, that don’t have access to personal or professional support, that feel the weight of expectation from others, whose cultural background impacts their life choices and experiences. There is evidence, for example, that BAME communities have felt a disproportionate impact this year on both their physical and mental health.

That is why this theme of Mental Health For All is so vital – talking about and experiencing positive mental health should not be the privilege of the few but a way that whole societies and communities function. That includes us as a University community. So this week, and every week, I would encourage you to think about your own relationship with your mental health and how you can support those around you.

We have a range of support on offer, and are always looking to extend this. Other useful CCCU resources include a section called ‘My Wellbeing’ on Managers Space that has some great tips, and Anne Cooke from the Salomon’s Institute wrote a blog recently about the five ways to wellbeing in lockdown. The regular blogs shared as Discursive of Tunbridge Wells are always worth a read. And don’t forget the two e-learning packages you can access.

The experience in your local team is just as critical – maybe arrange a Tea and Talk with your team and get the conversation started. And make sure to take some time to understand more about the experiences of others.

Mental health and wellbeing are critical, not just for their own sake but because it’s fundamentally about how we interact with and act in our world – impacting relationships, work, life. Everyone deserves that opportunity, which is why the theme of Mental Health for All is so important.

Juliet Flynn, Organisational and People Development

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