Mental Health Awareness Week: Charity offers support to families

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from May 9 until 15, and wants people to say #IveBeenThere.
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The aim of mental health awareness week is to provide the space to have open conversations about mental heath, raise awareness and challenge stigma and discrimination.

This year the theme is loneliness and how this and isolation can impact people’s mental health.

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A survey commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation found that one in four of UK adults say they have felt lonely some or all the time over the last month.

Harsha with patron Tim CobbHarsha with patron Tim Cobb
Harsha with patron Tim Cobb

The survey asked 6,000 UK adults, it also found that more than one third of UK adults say they would never admit to feeling lonely.

In EastbourneHolding Space, a volunteer-led organisation that supports families, parents and children across struggling with their mental health, has seen a massive rise in calls for help since the start of the pandemic.

Hansa Raja-Jones, founder of the charity, said: “Our country, indeed the world, has not seen anything like this for generations. People have been cut-off from loved ones, unable to see friends and forced to adopt new approaches to many aspects of their everyday lives.

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“Some have taken this in their stride, but others have encountered life-changing situations that have caused genuine and long-lasting set-backs to their mental health and outlook on life,” Hansa explained.

Holding Space gives support, advice and professional counselling to families with a need.

It recently acquired charitable status, which allowed it to increase its profile amongst all sectors of the local community and attract interest and reach potential clients who have not heard of Holding Space.

Hansa set up Holding Space as a result of her own journey caring for a child with mental health difficulties.

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“We believe that educating, supporting and empowering families is crucial to the mental health of the next generation, along with early intervention and support,” she explained.

“No parent should walk this journey alone and in silence when their child is struggling with mental health. We believe that the voice of the parent/child is paramount.”

Holding Space wants to take the burden off families by providing support, information and advice and by connecting families to support one another.

It offers a range of support services from walk & talk sessions, face-to-face parent coffee mornings, telephone support, low-cost counselling, yoga and collage and wine evenings.

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The charity works closely with schools, colleges, NHS providers, children’s centres and local/statutory organisations.

The team at Holding Space comprises local parents with lived experience, carers, qualified therapists and mental health practitioners. It works with parents and children to direct and shape Holding Space’s activities and services.

Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event, which focuses on helping everyone achieve good mental health.

It has been led and organised by the Mental Health Foundation across the UK for the last 22 years.

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Sharing our experiences helps to start conversations with others and break the stigma associated with loneliness and mental health.

This awareness week everyone is invited to share experiences of loneliness using #IveBeenThere.

The charity offers some tips to help you with your mental health: Get closer to nature as it can have a calming effect, learn to understand manage your feelings, talk kindly to yourself and others, talk to someone you trust for support, beware of using drugs and/or alcohol to cope with difficult feelings, try and make the most of money and get help with problem debts, get more from your sleep, adults need between seven to nine hours a night, be kind and help create a better world, try small and meaningful acts of kindness, moving our bodies releases ‘feel good’ hormones, eat healthy food, plan things to look forward to and have meals with other people, it can help nourish relationships.

Mark Rowland, chief executive of the foundation said: “Our data shows how loneliness is affecting the mental health of millions of people across the UK.

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“Loneliness can be toxic and lead to anxiety and depression and is also associated with increased thoughts of suicide.

“Loneliness is a significant public health issue and as a society we can and must do better to help people who are lonely and prevent mental health problems.

“An important step is to address stigma and misconceptions over who experiences loneliness, so that people don’t feel ashamed about how they feel. But we also need the Government to step up the momentum in tackling loneliness across society.”

The foundation’s research suggests that some groups of people are more at risk of loneliness including young adults, people with existing mental health problems and people from some minority ethnic groups.

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Other groups more likely to be affected by loneliness included people in later life especially those who are digitally excluded.

This year, it is calling on the Government to address the chronic underfunding of public health by restoring the Public Health Grant to 2015/16 levels and include commitments on loneliness within its new ten year Mental Health strategy in particular recognising those groups who are at more risk of loneliness.

For more information visit, Holding Space or Mental Health Foundation,