In the News: Matt Hancock: mental health priorities for the new health secretary

Matt Hancock has succeeded Jeremy Hunt as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, appointed just a few days after the NHS celebrated its 70th birthday with a 3.4% increased funding settlement.

His appointment followed two significant resignations from the cabinet over the government’s Brexit proposals, and while Brexit and Donald Trump’s visit to the UK continue to dominate the headlines, this is a crucial time for mental health.

Work is starting on a 10-year plan for the NHS; Professor Sir Simon Wessely is part-way through his review of the Mental Health Act; and there is an urgent need for a sustained, genuinely long-term commitment to improving the mental health of the population.

Mental health at the forefront of the agenda
Lengthy A&E waiting times and delays to operations have historically dominated the headlines about the NHS, but in recent times mental health has begun to feature in our national debates about health and receive more of the attention it deserves.

The increased prominence of mental health is long overdue and must continue, not only in the form of traditional health services but with investment in emerging digital technologies for mental health, and in cross-sectoral preventive action.

Jeremy Hunt was a strong advocate for mental health, and it’s important that Matt Hancock continues his work. He needs to ensure that mental health benefits fairly from the extra £20 billion a year the NHS will have by 2023, and as Jeremy Hunt leaves office, it’s not yet clear that it will.

Championing digital innovation
We know from his previous posts at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) that Hancock is a champion of digital innovation. We hope his enthusiasm will now embrace the role that digital technologies can play in preventing and treating mental health problems, and their potential to benefit more people than can be reached by current service models alone.

Support for mental health from all government departments
It’s important, too, that he ensures full delivery of the current Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, including championing its cross-government recommendations and finally appointing the long-awaited Equalities Champion needed to help drive change.

These should be key priorities, as many of the roots of good and poor mental health lie in policy areas such as housing, community services, employment, welfare and education. Some people and communities are at significantly higher risk of mental health problems, yet they also face bigger barriers to support.

Other government departments, therefore, need to be made aware of how they can protect and support people’s mental health rather than place it at (greater) risk.

The Secretary of State can make these arguments with ministerial colleagues: we need wider engagement with the factors affecting mental health and, fundamentally, a more preventive approach to tackling the high levels of unmet mental health needs that persist in our society.

The forthcoming social care green paper will focus on care and support for older people, but good social care is also vital for supporting people with long-term mental health problems. It is also vital for preventing childhood adversity – a major risk factor for developing mental health problems later in life.

But persistent reductions in local authority budgets have reduced resources for social care, prevention and early intervention – for example, there have been significant reductions in the numbers of health visitors, who provide valuable support to parents and families.

The 2019 Comprehensive Spending Review is an opportunity to begin to turn this around, and the Department of Health and Social Care has just as much interest in doing so as the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Connection between people and across government is as necessary to good mental health as digital connectivity is to effective digital technology. We hope this is something the new Secretary of State for Health will recognise and champion.

link to original blog

In the News: Blue Badge Changes Will Help People Will Mental Health Problems Live Independently

The Department for Transport recently announced that from 2019, more people with mental health problems and other invisible disabilities will be able to apply for Blue Badges – either via their local authority or through the disability benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The Blue Badge scheme allows disabled people to park closer to their destination, but people with mental health problems have historically found it difficult to access them. Changes to disability benefits in recent years have made this even tougher – but this announcement will improve the process and make clear that mental health should be taken into account when someone applies for a Blue Badge.

For some people with mental health problems like anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia – making even very short journeys in crowded public places can be a huge source of debilitating distress. Being able to park close to a destination can be the thing which makes a journey possible and allows people to live more independently.

Many people find that things outside of their control – such as delays, diversions, or crowded platforms – can cause extreme levels of fear. We hear from people who have had panic attacks as a result of transport problems. These can last a few minutes and involve a very physical response to a mental health problem, characterised by symptoms such as sweating, heart palpitations and hyperventilation. If you’ve never experienced something like this, it can be hard to relate, but panic attacks can cause you to feel as though something terrible is going to happen, or even that you’re going to die.

This move by the Government comes after the recent ruling on PIP which found that changes to the criteria were discriminatory against people with mental health problems. Again, it was a lack of awareness and knowledge about mental health problems that resulted in many people not getting the outcome they deserve. But people with ‘invisible’ illnesses can struggle to make journeys in the same way as people with physical health problems. There is also a huge overlap between physical and mental health problems – with people experiencing things like chronic pain often more likely to report having depression, for example.

After years of underfunding for mental health services, the Government says it’s committed to achieving ‘parity of esteem’ – treating mental and physical health as equally important. Put within this wider context, we hope that opening up the Blue Badge scheme to include people with mental health problems and other hidden disabilities is indicative of a positive shift in attitudes towards those of us living with these lesser understood but potentially debilitating conditions.


link to full blog:

See you at the Catch up cafe!

The Tomorrow Project is a confidential, suicide prevention service which offers practical and emotional support to those who may be having thoughts of suicide and may have been bereaved or affected by suicide.

The catch up cafes are for those who would like to access some informal, drop in support from our service and for those who would like information about our service. These sessions are for those aged 18 and above.

So whether you’d like some information on how we can support you or someone you know – if you’d like to come in and chat with a member of the team or to catch up with others – we will see you at the Catch up Cafe!

The following dates will take place at our Nottingham office at 1 Beech Avenue, Nottingham, NG7 7LJ:

– Wednesday 8thAugust 2018 – 14.30-15.30
– Tuesday 21st August 2018 – 11.30-12.30
– Wednesday 5th September 2018 -14.30-15.30
– Tuesday 18th September 2018 – 11.30-12.30

The following dates will take place at our East Leake office at Unit 1, Lighting House, 3-5 Station Road, East Leake, Loughborough, LE12 6LQ:

– Thursday 30th August 2018 – 14.00-15.00
– Thursday 13th September 2018 – 10.30-11.30

If you have any questions about the Catch Up Cafe or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us by emailing or by calling 0115 880 0280.

In the News: Mental health education is to be made compulsory in schools across the country.

Children are to learn about good mental health, the importance of good relationships and how to be physically healthy, the Department for Education has said.
The government said youngsters will be taught about topics such as consent, keeping safe online and LGBT+ issues.
All children will also learn about healthy lifestyle habits.
Children will also be taught how to recognise when others are struggling with mental health and how to offer help.
In a statement, the DfE said: “The guidance – which was last updated in 2000 – will become compulsory in all schools across the country from September 2020, and will put in place the building blocks needed for positive and safe relationships of all kinds.”
According to the DfE, teachers will talk to children as young as primary school age about the features of healthy friendships, family relationships and other relationships they may encounter.
And at secondary schools, teachers will build on this and, “at the appropriate time”, talk to children about intimate relationships.
Children at both levels will be learning about staying safe online, how to use technology safely and how to keep personal information private.
The new teaching guidelines have been developed in response to a “national call” for topics such as these to be covered, the DfE said.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “I want to make sure that our children are able to grow up to become happy and well-rounded individuals who know how to deal with the challenges of the modern world.
“Part of this is making sure they are informed about how to keep themselves safe and healthy and have good relationships with others.
“Many of today’s problems did not exist when we last gave schools guidance on how to teach Relationships and Sex Education 18 years ago.
“The action we’re taking is important to help support teachers and schools design a curriculum that will enrich their pupils in an age appropriate way.
“Good physical and mental health is also at the heart of ensuring young people are ready for the adult world. By making health education compulsory we are giving young people the tools they need to be ready to thrive when they leave school.”
The move to include these subjects has been welcomed by campaigners, who called for personal, social and health education lessons (PHSE) to be made compulsory to tackle the rise in mental health issues.
But some have expressed disappointment that the change will not come in until 2020.
Link to full blog:

In the News: Facebook and Instagram launch major overhaul to stop people using them so much

Facebook and Instagram are launching major changes to stop people using them so much.

Both apps and sites are getting a whole host of new features intended to make sure that people use them in a healthy way.

They include a special dashboard, which will show all of the time users have spent on both apps, reminders that will pop up when people have been on them for too long and the option to mute notifications so that people can take a break from the site entirely.

The new features come amid growing concern about the way that social media apps like Facebook and Instagram damage the people who use them.

And they come amid similar tools being launched from other tech companies including Apple and Google.

Facebook said that the new tools had been developed “based on collaboration and inspiration from leading mental health experts and organisations, academics, our own extensive research and feedback from our community”.

The new features come amid growing concern about the way that social media apps like Facebook and Instagram damage the people who use them.

And they come amid similar tools being launched from other tech companies including Apple and Google.

Facebook said that the new tools had been developed “based on collaboration and inspiration from leading mental health experts and organisations, academics, our own extensive research and feedback from our community”.

Facebook has been trying to stress that it is intended to be a place where people feel like their time has been well spent. Bosses, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have committed to make fundamental changes to the way the platform works to try and stop it hurting the people who use it.

The changes were welcomed by groups including the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).

“We are keen for social media companies to be part of the solution when it comes to making their platforms more positive places for mental health and wellbeing, so it is very encouraging to see Facebook and Instagram taking steps in the right direction by implementing these measures,” said Ed Morrow, external affairs manager at RSPH.

But many noted that the sites still has a long way to go in addressing the various problems they can inflict on young people.

“Facebook and Instagram state they want to ensure their platforms are safe but to do so they need to tackle serious problems within their sites,” said Laura Randall, NSPCC’s associate head of child safety online.

The updates will roll out “soon” on both Facebook and Instagram.

Link to original post:


In the News: Scroll free September: NHS endorses mental health campaign to get children to give up social media for one month

After the success of Movember the NHS has endorsed a mental health campaign to get children to give up social media for 30 days.
Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national director for mental health, said the campaign for people to sign up for a “Scroll-Free September” highlighted growing concerns that social media was contributing to a potential “epidemic” in mental ill health among young people.
The campaign is the brainchild of Britain’s oldest public health body, The Royal Society for Public Health, whose poll to launch it showed two thirds of people would consider giving up social media for the 30 days of September. It is the first time it has been tried anywhere in the world.
Ms Murdoch said the crisis fuelled by social media demonstrated why there needed to be “a major ramp up of services to deal with the mental health problems as part of the NHS 10-year plan”.
She added: “We need to see concerted action, with everyone taking responsibility, including social media giants, so the NHS is not left to pick up the pieces of a mental health epidemic in the next generation.”
In the royal society poll, a third of social media users and half of young users, aged 18 to 34, believed quitting social media for a month would help them sleep, better improve their real-world relationships and benefit their mental health and well being.
In an exclusive article for The Daily Telegraph to launch the initiative, Shirley Cramer, the royal society’s chief executive, said its own research showed social media increased young people’s anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, body image concerns and fear of missing out through the addictive psychological techniques used by the firms to keep people online.
Echoing the Telegraph’s Duty of Care campaign for greater legal protection of children against online harms, she said the social media firms needed to “redesign their products with human well being at their core – not as an afterthought.”
She added: “Another part of that rebalancing is about examining and retaking control of our own relationships with social media. That is why, today, we are announcing the launch of the first ever Scroll Free September – a unique opportunity to break from all social media accounts for 30 days.”
As evidence of the addictive quality of social media, half of 18 to 34 year olds admitted it would be hard or “impossible” to give up social media for 30 days. One in 10 18 to 24 year olds said it would be impossible.
The royal society, the world’s oldest public health body, is therefore offering some “scroll-free-lite” options for people signing up to the campaign website which include giving up social media in the evening, at social events, in the bedroom, at work or at school.
Scroll Free September mirrors similar campaigns including Movember (to promote men’s health), Stoptober (to encourage smokers to quit the habit) and Dry January (to refrain from alcohol after the potential excesses of the festive season).
The new initiative is also being backed by NHS Scotland, Public Health England’s Rise Above campaign and MPs including the all-party parliamentary group on social media and young people’s mental health which last month launched an inquiry into the impact of social media.
Research by the royal society found one in five people lost sleep during the night to check messages. It also found heavier users of social media – particularly girls – were more likely to report poor mental health and seven in 10 young people had experienced cyberbullying.
It wants social media firms to do more to identify people with mental health problems and provide advice to them, introduce pop-up heavy use warnings at, for example, two-hour intervals and for digitally-manipulated photographs to be tagged as such.
It is also proposes children should have lessons in how to handle social media as part of compulsory Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) lessons.
Link to full blog:

FREE Mental Health Awareness Training: Glossop, Friday 21st September

This awareness course supports Derbyshire’s Mental health Prevention Framework and is ideal for staff and volunteers from statutory, community and voluntary sector organisations who work with Derbyshire residents.

We will be running dates throughout the year:

Fri 21 September 2018
09:00 – 13:00 BST

This training session will develop understanding and knowledge of:

  • The continuum of mental health and dual axis model
  • Signs and symptoms of mental health problems
  • Prevalence of mental health problems
  • Populations at higher risk
  • Protective and risk factors
  • Impact of mental health problems
  • Stigma and discrimination
  • Approaches to incorporate into own practice to support interaction
  • Resources and services available both nationally and locally (Derbyshire)

To register your interest for this date:

For more information please contact a member of the training team:

Phone: 0115 880 0281


International Friendship day

Monday 30th July is International Friendship day and I wanted to share with you the important role friendship can play on our mental health.

Recently a friend sent me an article titled: “To the friends who loved me unconditionally when I hit rock bottom”, and it made me consider the powerful and often unappreciated role friendships play in our lives.

“Thank you for all the times that you showed me warmth, the random hugs that you graced me with because you knew something was up even if I didn’t tell you anything”.

For me, this particular line really resonated, it shows the real importance of true friendships and the fact that sometimes they ‘just know’Friends love you unconditionally, even at times when you don’t love yourself. They reassure us that life does get better, there is hope and they will always be by our side to remind us. I for one am truly grateful for my friend and was really touched when I was sent this article.

The article also made me think about how many people don’t feel able to talk to someone, the devastating effect this would have and what we can do to change it.

In the UK in 2015 there were 6,188 suicides. These statistics make suicide the leading cause of death in young people in the UK and also shows those over 45 are at greatest risk. With the rate of suicides at 6,188, that’s 6,188 more deaths than there should have been. Ultimately this shows us the need for support, alongside the need to challenge stigma around mental health and that starts with friends.

Let friend’s know its okay to talk…you’re there for them to listenwithout judgment.

Being open around mental health challenges stigma in a positive light and may be all a friend needs to be comfortable in asking for our help.

When someone is struggling with their mental health they may become distant, cancel plans and want to see us less than usual. However, this is when friendships play a key role and is exactly when maintaining friendships are so important.

The mental health foundation says: If you’re the friend of someone with a mental health problem, you may be concerned about them. The most important thing is to tell them that you’re still their friend. If your friend is comfortable with being touched, a hug shows that you care about them and that you accept them whatever problems they are having.

“My friend asked me questions, didn’t just assume things, she really wanted to know.”

Take cues from your friend. Are they comfortable with questions or would they rather talk about something else? Don’t promise things you may not be able to deliver. How can you help them best?

If you’re the friend, the most valuable support you can provide is just being there to talk and listen. People really appreciate that their friends have made time to contact themvisit them and invite them round.

These are five steps that research shows can help people with mental health problems:

■            Assess risk of suicide or self-harm

■            Listen non-judgmentally

■            Give reassurance and information

■            Encourage the person to get appropriate professional help

■            Encourage self-help strategies.

“Self-care includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health”.

As Monday 30th July is friendship day, why not combine the day with self-care Monday. Take part in some self-care with your friend and let them know how much you value them and appreciate their friendship.

Join us…

Join us for a wonderful night, learn more about our work, celebrate our triumphs and help us to raise money to keep us driving services in the field of self harm and suicide prevention forwards.

Saturday 29th September at Ruddington Grange.


FREE Mental Health Awareness Training in Derbyshire

We’ve been funded by Derbyshire County Council to deliver free courses for those working with Derbyshire residents.
The course is ideal for staff and volunteers from statutory, community and voluntary sector organisations who are looking for basic awareness raising of mental health.
This training session will develop understanding and knowledge of:
• The continuum of mental health and dual axis model
• Signs and symptoms of mental health problems
• Prevalence of mental health problems
• Populations at higher risk
• Protective and risk factors
• Impact of mental health problems
• Stigma and discrimination
• Approaches to incorporate into own practice to support interaction
• Resources and services available both nationally and locally (Derbyshire)
New dates:
For enquiries or more information please email or call 0115 880 0281