This year the focus of World Mental Health Day will be ‘Dignity’ as set out by the World Federation of Mental Health. Helping to raise awareness this October 10th of what we can do to ensure that people with mental health issues can live with dignity.

We know that close to one in four adults living in the United Kingdom suffer from a mental health issue, and that one in ten children are likely to have a mental health problem. However it is estimated that under a quarter of the people dealing with mental health problems seek help. It is because of this that initiatives such as Time to Change/Time to Talk have launched campaigns aimed  at breaking down the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness, encouraging more people to come forward and get the help they need.

The Mental Health Foundation is promoting a set of Fundamental Facts this year which focus on prevention, highlighting that the best way to overcome the rise in mental health issues is to prevent them from developing. The Mental Health Foundation say: “This focus on prevention is in part about what we can all do to safeguard our wellbeing, but is also about tackling the social and economic inequalities that can lead to a higher prevalence of mental health problems.”

The office of Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham & Rainham deals with an average of 850 constituents’ cases per week, and over the past few years there has been a distinctive increase in cases with an aspect of mental health. Barking and Dagenham is the second poorest borough in London and it is possible to suggest that in line with the above statement, social and economic inequalities have played a large role in the prevalence of developing mental health problems.

Jon Cruddas MP said: “We need to be doing all we can to tackle the rising issue of mental health within society. The problem is underpinned by a growing inequality gap, people are falling through the cracks across the country – unsure of what help is available to them socially and economically. Unfortunately this is leaving many people in destitute situations for prolonged periods of time. I fully support the Time to Change campaign, but as well as breaking down stigmatisation, it is equally important that we raise awareness of the help that is currently available; this includes preventative organisations that deal with the problems often leading to mental illness.”

How do we tackle this locally?

Barking and Dagenham Council is hosting a free event on Thursday 8th October at the Barking Learning Centre for residents to mark World Mental Health Day. From 10am to 12pm residents will have the opportunity to find out what services and resources are available to them. The event will also highlight what the borough’s Mental Health Needs Assessment revealed, and people will have the opportunity to help shape services for the future.

Residents can find out more here: http://careandsupport.lbbd.gov.uk/kb5/barkingdagenham/asch/adult.page?adultchannel=2_4&sorttype=field&sortfield=title

How do we tackle this nationally?

National attitudes are changing, highlighted best in the Labour Party’s newly established role of Shadow Mental Health Minister. The new Leader of the Opposition has called for parity between physical and mental health, arguing that just because you can’t necessarily see the effects of mental illness, it doesn’t make it any less debilitating than physical health problems.

The new Shadow Minister, Luciana Berger MP commented: “Mental health is a massive issue right across the country. I have had an overwhelming response from people since the Shadow Mental Health role was created.”

All the details of this years World Mental Health Day can be found on the Mental Health Foundation website here: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/world-mental-health-day/world-mental-health-day-2015/