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European Mental Health Week launches under banner ‘Mental Health Matters’
“Now, more than ever, our mental health matters.” That’s the message from Brussels-based NGO Mental Health Europe as it launches the second edition of its European Mental Health Week, from 10 to 16 May.
Recognising the additional strain placed on people’s mental health by the pandemic and confinement measures, the Europe-wide campaign focuses on the importance of positive mental health in people’s everyday lives, as outlined in the following video.
“We are all experiencing a different pandemic. Some experience the loss of a loved one, miss friends or family, others lost their workplace security and feel lonely, stressed and uncertain about the future,” said MHE in a statement.
“This year’s theme ‘Mental Health Matters’ will shed a spotlight on mental health as a high-profile societal issue as well as a deeply personal experience for everyone during the pandemic and beyond,” it continued.
Meanwhile, the week-long online action invites everyone to talk about their experiences and share their stories to highlight the need for ongoing services and support as well as long-term mental health policy.
It proposes five ways to participate:
● Get social Spread the word
● Use your voice Act for mental health
● Get involved Attend or host online event (all events live streamed for easy access)
● Share your story, a tip or encouraging words
● Give something back Fundraise for MHE
Launched in 2020, the event builds on the long-standing global tradition of observing Mental Health Awareness month in May. “Our ambition is to promote this positive practice throughout Europe and establish the European Mental Health Week as an annual pan-European mental health campaign celebrating the path to awareness and action,” said MHE.
CHS Community Help Service supports awareness-raising campaign
Brussels mental health services centre and volunteer-led English-language helpline, CHS, has been actively supporting the European Mental Health Week. “Over the past year we have seen a significant rise in calls to our confidential and anonymous helpline, up 245% in the past 12 months,” it told The Bulletin. “The proportion of these callers who were experiencing distress rose by over 335%. Fortunately, referrals from the helpline to the clinical team also rose substantially by 670% meaning people were receptive to further support.”
Continuing demand for services reflects the impact of the pandemic on the general public, but also the disproportionate effect on those already living with mental ill-health, said the CHS. “Although we have had to reduce the number of volunteers present in the office, our whole team is working harder than ever to increase availability on the phones and in the treatment room to meet this increasing demand for support.”
Recognising the “collective struggle”, CHS has been active in the local community over the past few weeks, organising events with AmCham Belgium, AmCham EU and St. John's International School to help people struggling during the pandemic and beyond. “Our clinical staff and affiliates continue to be leading voices helping organisations, schools and businesses support their audiences, students and employees who may be struggling with mental health difficulties.”