October 9th 2021

Wellbeing & World Mental Health Day

Some might think it’s a bit contrived to have a specific awareness “day” or “week” or “month”, particularly when it’s something as important as mental health. So many messages get lost, especially on the range of social media platforms that we access. On the flip side, it is really positive to create that space for connections, sharing of information, having the conversations and ultimately reducing the stigma that still exists around mental health.

We all have mental health, just like we all have physical health. Depending on our circumstances and what’s going on in our lives, our mental health may be good, or it may be poor, or somewhere in between.

Although, there is much to celebrate now that there is a greater focus on the holistic approach to our mind and body connections, there is still much to do to embed a culture, where talking about our mental health and wellbeing is normal and asking for help and support is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Mind, the Mental Health charity tells us that if you know someone has been unwell, don't be afraid to ask how they are. They might want to talk about it, or they might not. But just letting them know that they don't have to avoid the issue with you is important. Spending time with them lets them know you care and can help you understand what they're going through. There’s lots of useful, accessible information on Mind’s website

It’s positive to see so many strategies and plans around mental health and wellbeing with a focus on the bigger picture, not just the medical model of services. Underpinning this approach is the context of the social determinants of health. Given the theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is “Mental Health in an Unequal World”, it seems a good fit with recognising the impact of the pandemic and the effect that life during and after Covid-19 has widened inequality gaps for many in our communities.

The Social Determinants of Health show us that good mental health and wellbeing is based on a series of interlinking factors and if we just focus/treat in isolation, we miss the opportunity to create long lasting change and good health outcomes for everyone.

Through the Wellbeing Pathway, we are working with individuals, communities and businesses to inspire and create wellbeing in the places where we live, work and learn. Creating the conditions for good mental health or the right support when things go wrong is invaluable and so much knowledge exchange takes place in the interactions with others, in the sharing of lived experiences and the small daily practices that we can all take towards our wellbeing.

There are still far too many examples though of people falling through the net. Something is wrong when people are in crisis and they have a long wait for support or are hospitalised in a system that is often based on managing risk/behaviours/punishment and where individuals become institutionalised with a daily regime of lock-up, a cocktail of medications and little engagement with the real world. It can’t be easy for staff involved in the care of these individuals, but how did people get there in the first place?

In my work recently, I’ve had the privilege of meeting an amazing lady, Lisa Morrison, with lived experience of trauma, self-harm and suicide ideation. Her story about what has and hasn’t worked for her is powerful and you can find out more on Lisa’s website https://www.lisamorrison.co.uk/ I really admire her honesty, her genuine kindness and love for others and her desire to use her experiences to improve mental health support across our society.

Over the past few months, I’ve sat alongside individuals and groups in 1:1 situations, online, in workshops, training and social media interactions around wellbeing practices. Different situations, different backgrounds and different problems. A shared thread though when they describe feelings of loss, anxiety, grief, fatigue, depression, weight loss and an opportunity when they recognise that they are not on their own, that there is support available and that overall wellbeing is not one part of us working in isolation, it’s the holistic balance within our mind and body.

Of course, some people will need to access a clinical pathway. Of course, some people will need crisis intervention. Of course, some people will benefit from the right medication. BUT, on this World Mental Health Day, let’s keep the conversations going, reduce the stigma, create the connections and play a part in tackling the unequal approach to mental health and wellbeing. We will all benefit!

Recommended sources for further information:


Catherine Murnin

The Wellbeing Pathway Founder