Mental Health Awareness Week in the Coronavirus era

The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week this year is kindness. One of the real positives among all the bad news has been that there have been so many acts of individual kindness and so many people trying to help. Can we capture that and keep it going for the future? I very much hope so.

In recent years issues around mental health have rightly become higher profile. Nationally there has been a huge imbalance between spending on tackling physical health issues compared to mental ones but that is gradually changing.

This is something we have been keen to encourage locally. Back in 2016, the council joined with many others to run the ‘Heads Up Cheltenham’ year of action working to improve everyone’s mental health.

We created a mental health champion role within the council to help make sure the issue was never forgotten. In fact, such was the enthusiasm for tackling this that 3 councillors now share the role.

In case anyone has missed it, this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. It is difficult to imagine a more challenging time for mental health than what is happening at the moment.

While COVID-19 is a physical illness, the issues around it are testing everyone’s mental health in so many different ways. Whether it is facing bereavement without being able to say a proper goodbye to loved ones; having to live apart from family; or worries about losing jobs, lack of money, lack of food or so many other things.

Mental health has been very much at the front of our minds in all the decisions the council has been taking in recent weeks even when it comes down to the little things.

For instance, some may argue that planting the flowers in our parks and gardens wasn’t a top priority, but we felt that a splash of colour to brighten up the lives of those on their daily exercise was important.

Cllr Steve Jordan

Leader, Cheltenham Borough Council

Looking for a great cause to support this Mental Health Awareness Week? Cheltenham Lib Dem candidate for Park Ward, Izaac Tailford, has shaved his head in support of mental health charity Mind. He has already made it past his initial goal of £500 to support people in need - can we get him to £750?

You can donate to his fundraiser here

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