Worries over money, housing, heating and food can affect our mental wellbeing, causing stress, anxiety and depression.
Ahead of World Mental Health Day (10 October), which this year is themed ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’, we are highlighting just some of the support available in Kent and Medway.
NHS Kent and Medway’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Kate Langford said: “Looking after your mental health is as important as looking after your physical health.
“The pandemic and the current economic situation will be having an impact on most people’s mental health.
“If you, or someone you know, feels anxious or stressed, down or low, information about help can be found on NHS Kent and Medway’s Mental Wellbeing Information Hub.”
One of the services featured on the information hub is Live Well Kent and Medway; a network of community mental health and wellbeing support services, managed by charities Porchlight and Shaw Trust.
It can support people to improve their mental health, physical health and general wellbeing and has seen an increase in people seeking help because of the impact of the rise in the cost of living.
‘We can help’
Rebecca Berry, who works for Porchlight, said: “Lots more people are coming to us because of worries over money, housing, heating and food.
“At Live Well Kent and Medway, we can provide support that is focused on you. We’ll listen, and give you support and advice about any problems or issues you are facing.
“We can help in lots of ways, with practical advice about debt or housing, finding education or work opportunities, or support to manage your mental health at this difficult time.”
Live Well Kent is commissioned by Kent County Council, Medway Council and NHS Kent and Medway, as is Release the Pressure, which also features on the information hub.
Release the Pressure offers a text service to people who are struggling to cope and need immediate help.
People can text the word “Kent” or “Medway” to 85258, to start a conversation with one of the many trained and experienced volunteers who can give help at any time, wherever you are.
Help is also available via the Release the Pressure 24/7 freephone helpline 0800 107 0160.
‘Advice and support’
Recognising that the rise in the cost of living is already affecting residents, both Kent County Council and Medway Council have also put useful information in one place on their websites.
This includes financial advice and support including Council Tax reduction, help with childcare costs and food and energy bills.
People living in Kent can find this information at www.kent.gov.uk/kenttogether and Medway’ residents at www.medway.gov.uk/householdhelp.
World Mental Health Day will also see the launch of the latest Better Health – Every Mind Matters campaign that features short “demo” exercises and advice that encourages people to seek out and try more from the Better Health – Every Mind Matters website.
This includes such things as breathing exercises to show how simple, but effective, self-care can be.
Kent County Council Director of Public Health Dr Anjan Ghosh said: “We are already seeing the impact of financial issues across households in Kent on people’s mental health and wellbeing but we do have some fantastic online and community support to help.
“Organisations across Kent and nationally continue to try to address this together and you can find a wealth of information plus online tips and advice including the Every Mind Matters online tool at www.kent.gov.uk/everymindmatters.”
Cllr David Brake, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder covering Public Health, said: “Currently there are a number of issues which have the potential to create additional strain on individuals, families and communities.
“As we move into the colder months, we know that some residents may be feeling the pressure. It’s important that we all look after ourselves and each other. I would encourage residents to check on their loved ones and take extra care.
“There is a range of support available to help anyone who is struggling. Please remember that you are not alone.”
To find out more about the advice and support on offer, people living in Medway can visit: medway.gov.uk/healthymind.”