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Create an equal society on World Mental Health Day & beyond

  • Health and Wellbeing

In England, it is estimated that 1 in 6 people have experienced a common mental health problem in the last week. Raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing is important work, and the theme of the 2021 day of awareness is 'Mental Health in an Unequal World'.

The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund (PWCF) grant programmes aim to support projects which tackle these issues and thereby improve mental health, transforming lives and promoting health and wellbeing. Last year, PWCF awarded funds to the Youth Federation for Cheshire, Halton, Warrington and Wirral for their Early Intervention Mental Health Service. In the region, young people at crisis point often have to wait for 9-12 months for NHS support, and the Youth Federation provides a vital point of early intervention through their youth work and specialist Emotional Health and Wellbeing Worker.

The project has supported 300 young people aged 10-25 and resulted in a reduction in NHS referrals. One service user said that Youth Federation ‘take a genuine interest in my life and events that are important to me and it doesn’t feel forced or like they have to be interested. Since starting the sessions my anxiety has decreased massively and I’ve been able to lower my dosage of anti-depressants.’

Inequality exacerbates mental health problems. They are more prevalent amongst ethnic minority communities, with 23% of Black or Black British people experiencing a mental health problem each week (in comparison to 17% of White British people). PWCF awarded Business in the Community (BitC) £50,000 to develop new support for employers aimed at improving the working lives of Black, Asian and ethnic minority people in the UK in light of Covid-19 by improving targeted mental health support in the workplace. Through webinars and other employer facing training, Business in the Community is working to improve mental health support for Black, Asian and ethnic minority workers.

The Race at Work campaign was established by HRH the Prince of Wales in 1995 with the support of key business leaders who recognised the demographic shift in existing and future populations. To date, over 500 employers have signed BitC’s Race at Work Charter. This has transformed lives by improving employer understanding and commitment to race equality, and around areas such as leadership, recruitment, and progression in addition to mental wellbeing.

PWCF has supported the mental health of young people through its award to the Prison Phoenix Trust, which provides yoga and meditation for incarcerated young people, improving wellbeing and restoring hope in 88 prisons across the UK. The prison yoga class is one of the few places in prison where young offenders can let their guard down and fully relax. The breath-focussed, body oriented classes allow young people to reduce anxiety, worry and doubt. The Trust also provide a letter-writing service to give these young people a voice and provide counselling, further supporting their mental health.

We have awarded funds to projects with a focus on male mental health, notably Rural Support in Northern Ireland. This charity aims to reconnect older men with each other and with their communities in the aftermath of months in lockdown. It also runs a helpline, which saw a threefold increase in calls during the COVID-19 pandemic as isolated people in rural communities struggled with their mental wellbeing. Direct support is also being offered in the form of social groups and activities facilitated by trained Mental Health First Aiders; the Life Beyond Bereavement programme provides counselling and support to those who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic and were not able to partake in grieving rituals in the usual manner, hence making their grief a heavier burden. By enabling these men to connect and talk to one another, Rural Support is supporting better mental health.

In rural North Yorkshire, the Next Steps Mental Health Resource Centre has been running a project called ‘Men’s Shed’, supported by a grant from PWCF. The Men’s Shed provides 60 men with a safe space to talk and reduce feelings of loneliness whilst learning woodworking skills.

PWCF is proud to support projects which directly tackle mental health and wellbeing. Many of the other projects and organisations we support also improve mental health indirectly; for example through improving the quality of our countryside and environment or through protecting our heritage and conservation. Mental health can be bolstered by a beautiful walk in nature or through a reflective moment in a place of worship. To learn more about any of the projects we’ve supported, please click on the links.

On World Mental Health Day, take action and raise awareness of mental health in an unequal world by exploring the work of Mental Health UK and using #PinItForMentalHealth on social media.