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A Holistic Approach to Mental Health

17th May 2024

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week, a week which brings the UK together to focus on getting good mental health. This year’s theme was ‘Movement: Moving more for our mental health’ and at The Advocacy Project we really see the positive impact on mental health when individuals are given the opportunity to speak up about barriers to their physical health and the ways in which their local health and social care services can better support them. Our work does this in a number of ways:

  • Our Personal Health Budgets provide children, young people and adults with the opportunity to make decisions on what they believe will best support them in their mental health, well-being, and quality of life. It offers them a chance to be heard and supported in their mental health journey by allowing them to have control over how money is spent on their personal health budget item or service. Recent examples include the purchase of a gym membership to improve both mental and physical health and a trampoline for a child struggling to process their feelings who found it helped regulate their mood and was a positive outlet. As one PHB recipient said: ‘My gym membership worked out really well for me and I would say I definitely feel happier than before. I made friends with some local women and I lost some weight.’
  • Our core advocacy service helps individuals have their voice heard and concerns met. This can include supporting those detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 or those lacking capacity to speak up about issues that are negatively impacting their mental health. Recently, we worked with a patient whose mental health was affected by limited access to regular physical activity. Our advocate worked with the patient to speak to staff and raise awareness of the benefit of access to gym equipment – and regular visits are now in place for everyone at the ward.
  • Our Healthwatch services in Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea have mental health high on their agenda, with a particular a focus on young people’s mental health. Young people in the boroughs have been asked for feedback on what would help them stay well and meetings have seen the co-development of recommendations which have been shared with local healthcare providers. Many address the need for an increase in resources, information and integration of wellbeing support services, all of which will help young people to access opportunities to increase physical activity. As one of the young people said, in order for successful mental health we must all: ‘promote collaboration and integration between different agencies and professions to provide more comprehensive, continuous and integrated mental health services. This can be achieved through mental health awareness campaigns and advocacy in schools, workplaces and communities’. You can read more in the full report here.

Research by the Mental Health Foundation has found that ‘too many people are denied the chance to do things that are good for mental health due to poverty, financial strain, and inequality.’ At The Advocacy Project, we want to break down these barriers and promote a holistic approach to mental health which considers emotional, physical and spiritual needs. We strive for equitable health and social care which promote opportunities for everyone to access physical activity and we do this by providing a platform for people to speak up and feedback into the healthcare system.

If you’d like to know more about this work, or any of our projects, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.