The initiative grew out of a conversation between Neil Davies and James Blandford-Baker in early spring 2015 when both became aware of tragic and challenging stories affecting young people in our community. As for so many in our villages, these stories affected us personally. With the reduction in statutory support and treatment for people of all ages with mental health conditions, as well as the stigma that is still associated with them, the Histon & Impington Mental Wellbeing Forum came together to see what could be done at a local level.
Mental wellbeing includes our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.
Mental health problems cover a very wide spectrum, affect around one in four people in Britain, and range from common mental conditions, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems. A mental health problem can feel just as bad, or worse, as any other physical illness – only you cannot see it. There are many issues that impact on our mental wellbeing and these make us all at risk of developing a mental health problem at any time during our lives. The majority of people who experience them do recover or learn to manage their mental health problem.
HICOM became directly involved in the Village Mental Health forum in late 2015 and was used as the organising vehicle for the Village Mental Wellbeing Week held in April 2016.
During the week a survey, completed by 162 people, identified the need to increase activity and for a focal point. The forum decided to progress a new proactive community engagement role of ‘village mental wellbeing champion’. The main objectives are:
- Increase mental health awareness and break down barriers
- Signpost and advocate specialist support available
- Improve mental health prevention and early intervention
In 2017 we hired a Mental Wellbeing Champion, who led the initiative until the end of 2017. We moved the project into a new phase with the recruitment in April 2018 we of a Mental Wellbeing Worker, Sefanit Inquai, who is now working closely with the schools to help improve the mental wellbeing of the children and is starting a range of new initiatives in the community including the Befriending for Wellbeing scheme.
We ran two weeks of activities in 2017 and 2016 to to remove the stigma and increase our understanding and awareness of mental wellbeing and are working with a number of other organisations on a more general Wellbeing Week in May 2019.
2017 Mental Wellbeing Week
2016 Mental Wellbeing Week
The first Mental Wellbeing Week was a big success with 18 events that attracted a wide range of different participants and helped raise awareness of the issues and focus attention on the needs of our community.
During the week in April 2016 we did a survey to help understand the awareness, main concerns and needs about mental wellbeing issues within our community. We now have produced a report on the findings which you can download here.