Q) Why do you feel that ‘Mental Health for All’ is such an important theme this year?

The importance of this year’s theme is evident. The pandemic has had an impact on everyone’s mental health, whether that be through bereavement, social isolation, fear, or the uncertainty of the job market and economy.

We know that many people may be dealing with these difficult feelings for the very first time. Simultaneously, we know that those with pre-existing mental health difficulties may have faced additional struggles, coupled with changes in service support delivery.  

This year’s awareness day presents us with an opportunity. Firstly, to remind us all to spend time thinking about positive actions that we can implement to support our mental health and that of our family, friends, and colleagues. Secondly, it provides a spotlight to advocate for investment, and ensure that people know how and where they can access support.  

Q) Whilst this year has presented many challenges, it has also led to a lot of change and adaptation. How do you think we have started to change for the better?

Mental health is being talked about more than ever, which is a positive step. Talking about how you feel can be difficult, but greater openness is definitely a positive change. Talking helps to reduce the stigma, promote earlier intervention, and create opportunities for people to speak out and seek help.

I’ve also learnt how well people pull together in a crisis. The commitment of our staff to support those who continued to need our help has been critical in enabling us to deliver services. I am so proud of how quickly our services have adapted to the challenging circumstances and found new ways to work despite the restrictions. Nobody would have anticipated it was feasible to move to a virtual service offer almost overnight, especially when faced by significant demand for those services, and I am so proud of that.

This digital transformation also provides us with an opportunity - we won’t go back to where we were before the pandemic, we will continue to adapt. Such an approach will allow new types of services to evolve, which better support every individual to achieve their own goals and aspirations.  

Q) As someone who is both personally passionate about mental health, and a leader of a national mental health charity, what are your hopes for the future?

I hope that positive change can emerge from the struggles of 2020 and that we witness an increased understanding of the importance of mental health. I also hope that this goes further than just discussion and that there are the resources available to address the growing need.

To date, investment has not met the growing demand for mental health services. With the commitment to parity of esteem with physical health and an increasing need in the wake of the pandemic, this investment is vital. We can then use this resource to appropriately target our services, recognising that there will be groups who are disproportionately affected. By involving those who use our services, we can also ensure that they are designed to meet a diverse range of needs and that we are mindful of enabling access to support.

As an organisation, I am confident that we will grow from this unprecedented year. Our ambitions for the future are being shaped by our learnings from the last six months, including how we look to design innovative mental health services for the future. Our experience from collaborating during a crisis will also help us to work together more effectively to deliver high-quality services that help people to live life to the full. 

If you are struggling with your mental health, please seek support.

We provide several types of support across England. You can click-on ‘Our services’ to find the most relevant services for you. If none of these services are right for you, take a look at our 'Helpful resources' for some self-help materials and advice on where else to seek support. 

If you believe someone is in immediate danger, contact the emergency services on 999.