‘Mindfulness’ is the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (11-17 May), and a number of activities are being organised across Gloucestershire to mark the week and encourage people to think about their mental wellbeing.

Alongside partners including Gloucestershire Police, the NHS in Gloucestershire will be meeting with employers such as Tesco, Gloucestershire Media and M&S to talk about the benefits of being mindful and thinking about mental health in the workplace.

The informal sessions will give employers an opportunity to reflect on their personal views of mental health and stigma and to pick up information and tips about how they can create a healthy workplace and reduce the risks of stress, anxiety or more severe mental ill health.

They will also be encouraged to be ‘mindful’ about how they handle feelings, which can help people to cope with life’s challenging experiences. Being ‘mindful’ involves paying attention to the present moment and becoming aware of thoughts and feelings rather than being overwhelmed by them.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Bean of the Public Protection Bureau at Gloucestershire Police said:

“Traditionally mental health has been something that people have shied away from and been reluctant to talk about, but the reality is that mental health issues can affect people from all different backgrounds and walks of life – it’s something that touches all of us. We all need to work together to improve things, reduce stigma and discrimination, and get it out in the open.”

Professor Jane Melton, Director of Engagement and Integration for 2gether, said:

“With one in four people experiencing a mental health issue at any given time, it’s vitally important that employers and organisations have an open and honest culture when it comes to discussing mental wellbeing. Mental Health Awareness Week provides the perfect opportunity to speak openly about these issues and tackle the stigma that still exists, and prevents some people from seeking the help available.”

Dr Helen Miller, Clinical Chair at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“We can help our employees to stay well, both physically and mentally with the right knowledge and skills. Sometimes all it takes is a simple reminder that you care, or an understanding ear.  Maintaining good mental health is really important, particularly in the context of a rapidly changing world and pace of life.

Looking after staff and working towards reducing the stigma associated with mental health makes organisations happier and healthier.”

Councillor Kathy Williams, Cabinet Member for Long Term Care at Gloucestershire County Council, said:

“It’s important that we all take the time to look after our mental health. The ‘mindfulness’ roadshows will offer people practical advice and information that could be life-changing, so I would encourage everyone to go along.

Organisations have a responsibility to look after their own staff, and at the county council we are firm believers in providing the support and services staff need to maintain their mental wellbeing.”

Mental health problems are common, but there is a lot we can all do to improve our mental health and there is help available for anyone who needs it.

Further information about Mental Health Awareness Week and ‘Mindfulness’ is available on the Mental Health Foundation website here.

Mindfulness sessions are also run by 2gether’s Let’s Talk service. To find out more about Let’s Talk and what courses are available, ring 0800 073 2200.