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World Mental Health Day 2020

By Dr Erica de Lange, Director for Cygnet Psychology Services (South)

This Saturday (10 October 2020) is World Mental Health Day, an opportunity to reflect on mental health and make sure we are looking after ourselves and the people around us.

It’s been a tough year for everyone, which is why this year’s theme ‘Mental Health for All’ is particularly important. Although COVID-19 is a physical illness, the lockdown and social distancing measures have had a significant impact on people’s mental health. The latest research from the charity Mind reveals that more than 60% of adults and over two thirds of young people (68%) felt their mental health deteriorated during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, and NHS leaders have reported a rise in the number of people reporting severe mental health difficulties.

Given these issues, the full impact of the pandemic on our mental health may not become clear for many months or even years, so we must continue to promote good mental health and psychological support.

Too many people still suffer in silence and do not seek help from mental health services, and the concern is that their problems may get worse. At Cygnet, many of our service users have severe, debilitating mental illness. Very often, these are conditions that existed for a long time before they were referred to mental health services, and their needs were left unmet and untreated.

Improving access to quality care through increased investment in mental health is the goal of the World Health Organisation’s World Mental Health Day campaign. Relatively few people worldwide have access to quality mental health services, and stigma and discrimination of people with mental health conditions remains widespread. The WHO campaign calls on governments to prioritise investment in mental health.

The aim of Cygnet’s specialist psychiatric services is to provide a safe and stabilising environment for men and women who are in crisis, experiencing an acute episode of mental illness and requiring emergency admission. Over the past year we have continued to invest resources into assessing and treating service users, with a focus on helping them manage their mental health, reinforce daily living skills and prepare for independent life in the community.

A number of Cygnet’s newest hospitals are dedicated to supporting women with complex mental health needs. These recognise the growing demand for specialist services for women, who are more likely than men to have mental health disorders and are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders.

Women often experience mental health disorders differently to men, and there are various biological and psychosocial factors that put them at risk. According to the journal, The Lancet, policies emphasising the needs of women, young people, and those with pre-school aged children are likely to play an important part in preventing future mental illness.

Among the new services dedicated to providing support for women are Cygnet Nield House in Crewe, a new 30-bed mental health hospital, Cygnet Newham House, a brand new neuropsychiatric care and treatment facility in the Tees Valley
and Cygnet Hospital Hexham, a 27 bed mental health facility in Northumberland.

Our most recent launch is Cygnet Joyce Parker Hospital, a state-of-the-art Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services hospital in Coventry, which was officially opened earlier this week (October 7).

How to get involved in World Mental Health Day 2020

The UK charity Mind has launched the ‘do one thing’ campaign which aims to inspire people to make one small change or take one action to look after their mental health. There are various activities that we can do to improve our own mental health and help others who are struggling. It might be going for a walk, learning a new skill or doing something creative, or taking the first steps to getting support for yourself, or reaching out to someone else. For more information, go to https://www.mind.org.uk/get-involved/world-mental-health-day-2020/.

Where to get help?

The good news is that some of the more common mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety can often be treated through psychological treatments such as talking therapies or medication. You can find out more about the UK’s talking therapies, including counselling services and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) by asking your GP or by checking this useful NHS site https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/types-of-therapy/.

Your actions can make a big difference to raise awareness of mental health and encourage conversations around this very important subject.

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