The launch of Mental Health Awareness Week (8-14 May) and the success of the recent ‘Heads Together’ campaign have inspired me to launch my own blog as part of my business at Feel Well Therapy.

Although I gain great satisfaction from working with patients, I often feel the need to express my opinions on, and support for, a range of issues related to mental health and psychotherapy and a blog seemed to be the ideal way to do so. I am also interested in hearing the opinions of colleagues, clients and organisations – what better way to get the conversation started?!

The Mental Health Foundation is a charity that I admire greatly. They provide outstanding support for patients and mental health practitioners alike. I have been inspired by their new campaign, “Surviving or Thriving?” for Mental Health Awareness Week (#MHAW17) and have been reflecting on what it means to survive or thrive?

During my clinical work, I treat many clients that have survived traumatic events in their lives, such as a road traffic accidents, past abuse or the bereavement of loved ones. Equally I see many clients who talk about struggling with day-to-day life who present with stress, anxiety disorders or depression. Whilst there are many ways that we might learn to thrive in life, for some people this process is achieved with the help of therapy.

Patients often talk about the transition from surviving to thriving when they discuss how they have gained in confidence, how they have learnt to feel more in control of their life rather than being controlled by life, and how they feel that they can move on from difficult issues, or have learnt new skills to cope with challenges. For me, thriving is all of the above, but also about helping patients to live lives that are meaningful to them where individuals learn to value and take steps to achieve positive mental health for themselves.

If like me you would like to follow the Mental Health Foundation’s campaign, then check out their activities here.

Following on from this, the charity also talks about thriving in the context of needing to understand the drivers of poor mental health in society. Stigma is a big factor within this. In the 22 years that I have worked in mental health services, I cannot remember a time that mental health issues has been more in the news in a positive way. Long may this continue!

Destigmatising mental illness is essential to promoting mental wellbeing for all. Princes William and Harry, along with the support of the Duchess of Cambridge, have managed to do this humbly but effectively with their latest ‘Heads Together’ campaign. By revealing the obstacles that they have had to overcome – and the ways in which they overcame – the Royals have proved to be inspirational figureheads for us all, in particular the millennial generation.

So in summary, as we start Mental Health Awareness Week let’s hope that both individuals, clinicians, charities, politicians and society as a whole see this as their opportunity to seize the day, spread the word and talk about mental health, ensuring that future generations are indeed thriving, not just surviving.

In my next blog, I want to consider how teenagers cope with stress and exam pressure. Through my practice, I am well aware of the pressures faced by those aged 15 and over both in life itself and in studying for exams. In the meantime, have a look at BBC Bitesize which provide a practical, supportive webpage for young people called the Mind Set.

For now, wishing you all ‘Good Mental Health‘.

Best regards,