Mental Health Awareness Week – a local perspective

Mental Health Awareness Week is the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health and mental health problems and inspires action to promote the message of good mental health for all.

This year the theme is kindness. What do we mean by kindness?


The Mental Health Foundation describes it as doing something towards yourself and others, motivated by genuine desire to make a positive difference. Their research shows that kindness and mental health are deeply connected, with kindness acting as an antidote to isolation and creating a sense of belonging, helping to reduce stress, bringing a fresh perspective and deepening friendships, even improving feelings of confidence and optimism.

The power and potential of kindness during lockdown has been seen locally. A number of mutual aid groups have been set up to provide an important lifeline to communities and the existing Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector has adapted it’s approach to provide much needed services. Over 2000 people have signed up with VAL’s volunteering service to help their communities during the pandemic and over 1000 people have already secured a volunteer opportunity.

Protecting our mental health

The Mental Health Foundation believes that protecting our mental health is going to be central to us coping with and recovering from the Coronavirus pandemic – with the psychological and social impacts likely to outlast the physical symptoms of the virus. Therefore it is important that our local VCSE who provides this type of mental health provision can continue to evolve to meet those needs.

Some of the local services being provided:

  • Harmless, a user led organisation that has a base at VAL where they provide a range of services about self -harm and suicide prevention. They are providing some free virtual Let’s Talk Wellbeing training.
  • Youth Sport Trust are a national children’s charity based in Loughborough. They have an Active In Mind programme and have released their Active In Mind poster and videos by athlete mentors to help young people relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Alzheimer’s Society, a national charity with local provision, are providing companion calls to people living with dementia and their carer’s. This is a temporary addition to their Dementia Connect service.
  • My Mind Matters is a Harborough-based project run by VASL set up to help people take control of their life whilst living with a mental health diagnosis. They are accepting new referrals with a phone only service.

This is just a snapshot of the local VCSE provision supporting all aspects of mental health. You can find out more about the local VCSE sector in VAL’s directory.

What’s going to be your act of kindness?

As Mental Health Awareness Week comes to an end what will your act of kindness be?

Whilst the government has invested in a £5m Coronavirus Mental Health response fund, Mind, who are administering the fund, have had to pause the fund for new applicants due to the high number of applications. Maybe you could donate much-needed funds to local VCSE organisations, such as becoming a donor by setting up a personal named fund with the support of Leicestershire & Rutland Community Foundation.

Or you could give to a local GoFundMe campaign such as the one set up by ADHD Solutions CIC. They provide support to families, individuals, and professionals affected by ADHD across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Normally a social enterprise like this would be self-sustaining, supporting families by selling training and support packages to schools and a host of other professionals, but like many VCSE organisations their trading revenues have been affected by the lockdown.

Possibly, you could use your own entrepreneurial skills to set up a social enterprise that shares your success with an income for yourself and at the same time reinvesting the majority of the profits to benefit your local community.

Perhaps you could use your spare time to help support your local charity by becoming a trustee. You can search for local opportunities using VAL’s volunteering service.

We are here to help if you want to chat through your plans. Just send us a message. If using the online form, select support for your organisation, in the reason for contact drop down box.

Get support from VAL

If you are a charity or community group and you need additional support to deliver services during the pandemic, VAL is here to help.

We can offer advice on issues that affect charities, from fundraising to proper governance and managing volunteers.

You get can in touch via:
0116 257 5050