Talking about mental health in Slough

Published: 17 October 2018

To mark this year’s World Mental Health Day, the council, in partnership with the Slough Wellbeing Board, officially launched #NotAlone, their campaign to raise awareness about the importance of looking after your mental health.

The aim of the campaign is to raise mental health awareness in Slough and the importance for everyone, whatever their age or situation, to ensure they take time to look after their own mental health.

#NotAlone also promotes the Mind endorsed Five Ways to Wellbeing research by the New Economics Foundation, which outlines five straightforward steps everyone can take to look after themselves mentally. Read our guide to following these steps.

#NotAlone is additionally about reminding everyone they are ‘not alone’ and support is there, if it’s needed. People can seek advice, become a member of a group and more to help to address their situation.

Or if someone thinks they know someone who requires assistance, they can perhaps point them in the direction of one of the many local organisations and charities here for them.

#NotAlone wants to help people in the borough identify proactive ways to address their situation, focusing on what a person can do, instead of what they can’t.

The campaign also hopes to play a part in ending the mental health stigma and normalising mental health too, as people should not feel the need to apologise for their situation or how they’re feeling.

The initiative launched at the Stronger Together event at The Curve last Friday. The event, which was a collaboration between the council and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, saw mental health professionals and residents affected by mental health come together to commemorate and raise awareness of the national day.

Those in attendance, including Tan Dhesi, MP for Slough, heard from a range of speakers who shared moving accounts of their personal journeys in mental health and how access to services in Slough, as well as mentoring others, had helped them to address their situations.

The event also showcased the work of students from Hope Recovery College, including artwork put together in partnership with the Slough charity Art Beyond Belief.

Through the charity, students were able to find their artistic voice and explore their own creativity in a number of different mediums, including painting, poetry and spoken word, digital software, photography and more.

Other students presented research projects on varying topics including bullying, cyberbullying, depression, mental wellbeing in the workplace and dealing with mental illness from a minority background.

Mr Dhesi commended the speakers for sharing their work and experiences with the crowd, as he recognised how difficult it can be getting up and talking to an audience, especially about something so personal.

He also praised them for helping to break the silence and stigma around mental health by being brave enough to tell their stories; as he felt that hearing real stories from the community and actively engaging in the topic was the perfect way to get the word out across the borough; not only of the good work happening in this field, but to also inform residents who might need help with a mental health issue.

Cabinet member for health and social care, councillor Natasa Pantelic, said: “This is a really important campaign as nobody should feel alone and unsupported.

“Looking after your mental health is as important as looking after your physical health, so I would encourage everyone to take some time out and follow the simple steps to improve their wellbeing.

“But if you think a mental health issue could be causing you or someone you know serious distress, please remember there are professionals and organisations across the borough who are here to help too.”

To find out more about the campaign, visit www.slough.gov.uk/notalone and follow @SloughCouncil on Twitter.