World Mental Health Day 2020 – An East End perspective
By Philippa Carr, Education Manager and Simon Picker, Peer Support Worker at Jami
Lisa sits in her bed on an NHS hospital ward recuperating from recent illness, alone but not lonely. She is getting ready to join Community Conversations East, one of Jami’s weekly Zoom get togethers. Having lived with mental ill-health for many years, Lisa is well known at our Redbridge Community Hub and since the advent of Covid-19, online via Zoom.
Logging on with her newly acquired tablet provided by Jami, Lisa is greeted by Jami’s East London Peer Support team, along with a much valued support volunteer. Our Peer workers use compassion and empathy as the tools of their trade, to lift up others on the road to recovery. Through this online get together, a communal space for connection and mutual support is created.
World Mental Health Day this year comes at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the recent pandemic. The past months have brought many challenges; physical, social, economical and psychological; and for people living with mental health conditions the impact of isolation has had even greater significance.
In East London there is a powerful sense of community, perhaps informed by people’s experiences of growing up and remaining in the East End. There is warmth and a shared humour, a true hamishe welcome that is open and accepting. Despite being one of London’s most deprived local authorities with 36% of people living in poverty, there is more uptake for talking therapies than anti-depressants. East Enders can hold their own in conversation and are able to turn to discourse to share their thoughts and feelings. Perhaps because the area is so diverse here, people are more open minded when it comes to mental ill-health.
A recent article in the Hackney Citizen illuminated these findings about the mental health landscape in Hackney, pointing out startling facts and celebrating the robust NHS mental health services that serve the community. Simon is in no doubt that the stories and experiences privileged to him reflect a resilient neighbourhood, where people are strongly individualised yet also deeply connected. Simon shares, “What I love about the space we provide is that people are able to have in-depth discussions with honesty and there is this shared sense of community and understanding.”
The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘mental health for all’. Parity of esteem for mental health with physical health is long overdue, both in terms of acceptance and understanding, and in provision of services.
At Jami, we know we will continue to evolve our services, focusing on people at the centre of everything we do. We need investment from our community and our colleagues in the NHS need statutory investment. Mental health services, both voluntary and statutory, do that rare thing in our society of providing connectivity and hope. This World Mental Health Day we need to keep that alive, wherever we call home.
Qwell – Free, safe online counselling and emotional wellbeing service.
Join immediately and anonymously through any smartphone, tablet or computer: https://www.qwell.io/jami
Shout – A 24/7 free text service for anyone in crisis, if you’re struggling to cope or need immediate help.
Text Jami to 85258
Kooth Student – Online counselling and emotional wellbeing support for students