Public Health England (PHE) and the NHS have teamed up with the royals – Harry, Meghan, William and Kate – to launch a new digital mental health action plan called Every Mind Matters.
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The platform, which has taken 18 months to build, was developed by clinical and academic experts, national mental health charities and input from people who have experienced poor mental health.
The action plan shows people how to build simple changes in their daily lives to help them cope with everyday challenges that could otherwise lead to mental health problems.
People are waiting too long before taking action
People are becoming increasingly aware that it is just as important to maintain good mental health as it is to maintain physical health.
A new PHE survey has recently shown that more than 8 in 10 (83%) people have experienced early signs of poor mental health such as anxiety, stress, low mood and insomnia within the last year.
While these can all be natural responses to everyday difficulties, they can lead to more serious problems if people wait too long before taking action, which many people do.
The PHE survey revealed that more than one-quarter (27%) of people who have experienced signs of poor mental health waited at least six months before taking steps to manage them, with three-quarters of those people reporting that they wished they had taken action sooner.
We’re all aware of the benefits of looking after our physical health and the steps we can take to keep ourselves healthy, but many of us are not as proactive as we could be when it comes to our mental health.
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock
Every Mind Matters will benefit us all with an accessible tool to help manage our wellbeing at the click of a button, he adds.
The NHS is increasingly focusing on ways to help people digitally through online appointments with doctors or through virtual reality-based therapies, for example. Every Mind Matters is a tool that represents another step in that direction by helping people take action to manage their mental health when they are not quite sure where to start.
Being proactive can prevent more serious problems
“Taking proactive steps like increasing physical activity and connecting with others can help prevent these issues developing into more serious mental health problems further down the line,” says Paul Farmer, chief executive of the charity Mind, which has also been involved in developing the platform.
We hope that this campaign will help increase public awareness of how we can all stay as mentally well as possible.”
How does the platform work?
The new tool, which has been endorsed by the Royal College of General Practitioners, provides a personalized action plan that incorporates self-care measures to help manage problems such as stress, low mood and difficulty sleeping.
The “Mind Plan” asks people five questions about their mental wellbeing, including how well they sleep, how their mood is, how anxious they feel day-to-day, what their everyday worries are and how stressed they are.
Based on the answers, it generates an individualized list of steps to take such as increasing physical activity, connecting with friends, performing breathing exercises and reframing from negative thinking.
All of these actions have a well-evidenced impact on improving and maintaining good mental health and helping people to cope better with life, manage difficult times and improve their relationships, both now and in the long-term.
Depending on how the person feels about the recommendations, the steps can be exchanged for other ideas until the plan seems manageable. The personalized plan can then be e-mailed to the individual and potentially printed out and looked at as a daily reminder of how to take care of their mental health.
If a person’s answers seem to indicate that they are having serious problems coping, the tool encourages them to seek therapy through the free NHS service or to reach out for urgent help.
Many well-known faces have got involved
A film written by Richard Curtis, directed by photographer Rankin and narrated by Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, was aired yesterday evening across ITV, Channel 4 and Sky channels.
The powerful advert featured a range of famous people whose lives have been impacted by poor mental health, including Gillian Anderson, Will Young, Glenn Close, and many more.
Every Mind Matters, which is backed by a range of mental health charities and foundations, including the Samaritans, Mind, the Mental Health Foundation, and Time to Change, is available to the public and GPs who can recommend it to patients.
Some of the UK’s largest companies have pledged to promote Every Mind Matters to their employees, customers and followers. Companies such as Nationwide and Greggs will be encouraging their staff and the public to take steps to manage their mental health by creating their own action plan.
Our health is affected by our circumstances, including having a job, friends and a roof over our heads. Anxiety, stress, low mood and trouble sleeping can affect everyone. Every Mind Matters aims to help people to better handle life’s ups and downs.
PHE chief executive, Duncan Selbie
To find out the simple steps you can take to maintain a healthy mind and create your own personalized action plan, please visit www.everymindmatters.co.uk.