Launch of three-point plan to improve mental wellbeing across Walsall

‘Together We Can’ is the key message from Walsall’s Director of Public Health, Stephen Gunther as he launches his annual report and recommendations to improve mental wellbeing in the Borough.

Today is ‘Blue Monday’, described as the gloomiest day of the year and a day that brings into focus the importance of good mental wellbeing.

Prior to the pandemic almost one in five residents in Walsall were known to have experienced anxiety, depression or mental health disorders at some point in their lives.

After nearly two years of lockdowns and restrictions related to COVID-19, stress levels for many have increased.

Launching his annual Public Health Report, Stephen Gunther said: “In my role as a Public Health leader, I have seen the consequences that poor mental wellbeing can have upon family and friends and none of us are immune to it.”

“Mental wellbeing is a key priority for me and my team this coming year. I am determined to help our residents to help themselves and to improve mental wellbeing in their communities.”

For 2022, Walsall Council has committed £1million of additional funds to improve the mental wellbeing of Walsall residents and to tackle mental wellbeing inequalities over the next three years.

Councillor Stephen Craddock. Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing for Walsall Council added: “This report puts the importance of positive mental wellbeing right at the top of our list of priorities. We can all help ourselves and make a positive difference to our families, our communities and our workplaces.

“The isolation caused by the pandemic and the anxiety levels that have increased because of Covid have had a huge impact on many people. But we have also seen communities come together and the power of that connectivity should never be underestimated. By following the simple steps set out in this report, we can all make a difference and reduce mental wellbeing inequality in Walsall.”

In the report, Walsall’s Director of Public Health sets out his top three recommendations to help look after our own mental wellbeing:

  1. Make a commitment to putting yourself first, even just for a while.
  2. Find out where you can get support if you need it.
  3. Make a (realistic) positive routine.

One person who has followed the recommendations is 54-year-old Elizabeth from Walsall. Elizabeth was feeling stuck in a rut, had put on weight since the pandemic started and was feeling fed up. She asked her doctor for help and found out about the support available from One You Walsall Lifestyle Services

Elizabeth says it’s changed her life: “I have taken my time to add in small changes and they’ve made a huge difference to my life. I exercise more, eat a much healthier diet and I feel so much better. I had been stuck in a rut, had put on weight since lockdown started and I’m pleased that I looked for support before things got worse. Admitting you need to do something is the first step, but it can be hard to do. I feel so much better for having done it, though, and would definitely recommend others to do the same if they can.”

In the report and recommendations, Walsall Council and partners are encouraged to develop positive mental wellbeing across Walsall by working together on initiatives, strategies and opportunities to promote, support and encourage better mental health and wellbeing across the borough. A mental wellbeing strategy for the area is currently being developed, with details to follow in due course.

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