On 10th October was the 25th annual World Mental Health Day. The theme, appropriately for us, is mental health at work. I have written twice recently about things that might play some part in improving our mental well being: taking some exercise during the day and getting the balance between work and not work. I hope lots of us can benefit from those, but I know how tough it can be to motivate yourself when the smallest things overwhelm you and day to day life is really hard.
That is why I want to voice my support for everyone struggling with mental ill health or in crisis. Mental ill health is a big umbrella term and covers everything from clinical depression to bipolar, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to schizophrenia, anxiety to eating disorders and addictions to OCD. But all of these demand a great deal of courage from those who experience them. You may not feel brave today, or tomorrow, but you are brave and I hope you can recognise that.
Mental ill health transcends class, age, race and just about every other barrier which is why many of us know at first hand the distress of mental illness. All of us know people who have battled it in the past and who face it day to day. Lots of us are sitting pretty close to someone who is struggling right now, and we might not know it. I like the campaigns that encourage us to hear the cry for help hidden in the standard responses to the question about how someone is doing. Here at DCMS, we have a number of trained, volunteer mental health champions. I hope people can feel able to talk to others about how they feel and I hope we can all reach out and listen. Perhaps we could consider a small act of kindness today that might just make a difference to someone.
What is also encouraging about working at DCMS is the difference our policy can make, from understanding the risks in the online space to mental health volunteers, from the impact of sport, arts and culture on mental wellbeing to providing information digitally and in libraries. I am keen for us to consider how we can maximise our contribution to the government’s desire to do more to improve mental health. The wins may not be quick, the scale of the challenge can seem daunting, but the potential for government to make a difference is enormous.
Helen Judge, Director General- Performance and Strategy
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