08 October 2021

We all need to take action to tackle inequality for people with serious mental illness

WMHD 2021On World Mental Health Day (Sunday 10th October) Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust is championing equality for people with serious mental illness.

This year the theme for World Mental Health Day is 'mental health in an unequal world' and AWP is calling on everyone to come together to take action to tackle the inequalities experienced by people with serious mental illness.

We want everyone to think about the world they want to see that reflects equality in all things mental health, and the unique contribution you can make to turn that into reality.  This could be having a conversation about mental health, checking in with someone you've not spoken to for a while, making a commitment to give yourself some time to reflect on how you are feeling, asking your local MP to support better funding of and access to mental health services.

Dominic Hardisty, Chief Executive at AWP, has pledged: "My pledge for World Mental Health Day, is that we will do everything we can in our services to improve the physical health of the people we care for, and my ask of everyone working in the health and care sector across the world is, let's do everything we can to give these people better life chances."

The life expectation for people with a serious mental illness is 15-20 years lower than for the general population. In most cases, this is not due to their mental illness but because of poor physical health, or other conditions related to mental illness, like diabetes and high blood pressure. That's a really big inequality and it's time for change. 

We have made a short film for World Mental Health Day highlighting what an equal world for people with serious mental health illness means and looks like to our staff, patients, service users and system partners.  Please take a look at this and then let us know what your pledge and commitment is to end inequality for people with serious mental health illness. 

You can share your thoughts, pledges and ideas on our social media channels (Twitter - @AWPNHS and Facebook - @AWPNHS) on Sunday 10th October or you can send them to awp.communications@nhs.net

Now is the time to take action and move things forward for people affected by mental illness.

AWP is committed to tackling inequalities through a number of projects including working with its Strategic Experts by Experience Group (SEG) to co-produce and continue to improve services. The Trust also provides an Individual Placement and Support (IPS) service where dedicated Employment Specialists work alongside Recovery and Early Intervention teams to support patients and service users in finding and staying in work. They help with career progression, creating CVs, job applications and interview skills.

A patient, who has been helped by the IPS team, said: "I have lived with anxiety, low self-esteem and depression for years. Working is my lifeline because it gives me a purpose, a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I was out of work for most of the pandemic, then when I got a job I told my employer about my mental health issues. He was awful, he didn't understand at all and I ended up being bullied. The mental health team helped me look for another job, filling out applications, re-writing my CV, getting better at interviews and just keeping me positive. Then I got a job and I'm still there, settling in nicely, but I couldn't have done it without the team keeping me going. It goes to show how hard it is for people with mental health issues because there is a lot of unfairness out there."

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