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Livability’s Katharine Welby Roberts on World Mental Health Day

October 13 2014

Last week, on October 10th, it was World Mental Health Day. The Day was of particular significance to Livability in relation to our Dementia Friendly Churches Initiative which delivers training on how to make a church more accommodating for people with dementia. It was also heightened this year on the back of Nick Clegg’s promise to cut waiting times for people with mental health issues. Livability’s own Community Mission Coordinator, Katharine Welby Roberts, who herself lives with depression and anxiety, reflects on changing attitudes towards mental health and the importance of translating those into positive everyday actions in this months blog.


Last Friday (Oct. 10) was World Mental Health Day; a day dedicated to raising awareness of mental health and its impact on society.

Earlier this week I featured in a film on the BBC’s Newsnight, talking about the stigma that surrounds mental health. This can have a devastating Katharine newsnightimpact on those within our communities who suffer from a mental health problem. This is a prolific illness, 1 in 4 of us will be struggling with our mental health at any given time, and yet millions of people still feel ashamed to acknowledge that they are ill.

I have had depression and anxiety for my whole adult life, and whilst stigma around these illnesses is decreasing there is still a long way to go.

However, the more we talk about mental health and recognise that it is an illness like any physical condition, the more we will feel able to talk to each other about it. It is partly through this conversation that stigma will slowly end.

World Mental Health Day copyIt is not only conversation that will change things though, action is needed. For example, if you would help someone who had a broken leg, or visit someone in hospital then why not help someone who is battling severe depression, or anxiety? If you don’t know what to say, start by asking what you can do to help. It may be a text every couple of days or it may be a coffee every now and then. Just letting people know that you care can make an enormous difference to their sense of belonging and safety.

As we reflect on mental health around World Mental Health Day, why not reach out to someone you know is struggling with their mental health and ask them how they are. You never know the impact it might have.

Livability’s community engagement team has partnered with Mind and Soul to produce a mental health access pack for churches. This will serve as a resource for those seeking to learn more about mental health and how they can better help those who are ill. To find out more about the Mental Health Access Pack, please email joinin@livability.org.uk

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