On October 10 of this year, the World Federation for Mental Health sponsored the 30th annual World Mental Health Day campaign.
The theme for this year was simple, yet powerful: “make mental health for all a global priority”.
We interpret this to mean that everyone’s mental health matters – regardless of an individual’s age, race, nationality, gender, occupation, social class, or past experiences.
However, we know that truly prioritizing mental health for all is a tall order. No country or community is perfect, and there are a number of cultural and societal forces that are just simply out of our control. Not only that, but we also know that budgets for well-being programmes in the public and private sectors are tight in the aftermath of Covid-19.
So as we reflected on this theme at Lily-Jo Project HQ, we were inspired to think about our own mental health community here in the UK. About all the dozens of organizations that work tirelessly to prioritize mental health for individuals at every walk of life – whether that be through education and awareness, immediate crisis support, or government campaigning and advocacy.
Through our reflections and research, we started to see the big picture. And we were blown away by the progress that continues to be made by nonprofit organizations – progress that can only be achieved when we work together.
It Takes a Village
Individual mental health journeys are unique. And in order to support everyone exactly where they are, it takes a whole cast of charitable organizations with unique approaches and services.
For example, some charities, such as Mind or the Mental Health Foundation, act as advocates and educators; spreading awareness of mental health challenges and promoting change at the highest levels of government. Others, such as Samaritans and Shout, offer immediate telephone and digital support to individuals in crisis.
On the other hand, organizations like Papyrus, Place2Be, and ourselves here at The Lily-Jo Project offer tailored services for children and young people, while charities like Education Support provide much-needed support for those who work directly with students.
Other charities tackle key mental health challenges like eating disorders (Beat), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD UK), and anxiety (Anxiety UK), while others support specific groups of people with shared experiences – such as Black Minds Matter which supports Black individuals and families and Mind Out which supports the LGBTQ+ community.
The list could go on and on… but in essence, it really does “take a village” to make mental health a priority for everyone.
The Power of Working Together
The nature of the mental health sector is complex. We all have mental health, but our mental health needs are shaped by things like our biology, brain chemistry, current circumstances, and past experiences. This means that when it comes to providing mental health support services, there really is no ‘one size fits all’ solution.
The National Health Service already does an incredible job of supporting the UK’s most vulnerable individuals – but it is simply not enough. In fact, it is estimated that 8 million people in England alone still cannot get access to the help they need. That’s why, as charitable mental health organizations, it is our job to stand in this gap and help ensure that everyone has access to the support they need exactly when they need it.
However, no single charity can accomplish this on its own – it’s just not possible or realistic!
So in order to provide the best support, we must work together. We have to play to our strengths, offer support where we are the best fit to do so, and collaborate with each other to create unique solutions that make a long-lasting impact.
Case Studies: The Lily-Jo Project’s Collaboration With Minds Ahead and Signposting for School Communities
Collaboration with Mind’s Ahead
We are always keen to collaborate with other charities and social enterprises on special projects. That’s why we were so excited to cross paths with Dean Johnstone, founder and CEO of Minds Ahead, at a #BeeWell initiative meeting. After a few conversations, we realized that we were a good fit to join forces on a project to develop a unique online qualification in peer mentoring for teens.
Thanks to Minds Ahead’s background in qualification development combined with our own digital platforms and network, we are now on track to offer this programme nationwide in early 2023.
The programme, now in its early trial stage, will provide high-school and college-age students with the opportunity to receive a Level 2 Qualification in Mental Health Peer Mentoring, awarded by the Royal Society of Public Health. It also gave us the chance to establish a blueprint for creating similar online certifications for students in the future.
Signposting Support for Schools
Sometimes working together with other charities can be as simple as signposting or directing people to the right resources.
One example of this is when, after speaking with a number of schools and local councils, we realized that there is some confusion about the types of mental health support that is available to school communities.
This made us realize that outside of our mental health bubble, it’s not always clear which charity does what and how they can help.
To support these schools, we developed a guide outlining all the different ways that mental health charities may be able to support their school community. To ensure the guide was accurate, we reached out to the 40+ UK-based mental health organizations mentioned and asked them to verify their information. This enabled us to not only better understand the specific services that they offer, but to also establish relationships with their relevant marketing, communications, and press teams; laying the groundwork for potential collaboration in the future.
The finished guide can be downloaded here: Stronger Together: An Overview of UK-Based
Mental Health Organizations & How They Help
Fortune-500 companies already know that success is achieved when we come out of our silos and work together. Diversity is a known driver of innovation, and progress can happen much more efficiently when we collaborate and lift each other up.
This is often much easier said than done though in the nonprofit sector. Resources are limited, and it’s easy to see other charities as “competition” with every passing grant application and fundraising campaign.
However, if we want to see a world where:
- The stigma of mental health is completely eliminated.
- Individuals are equipped with the right tools and techniques to maintain good mental health in their day-to-day lives.
- Individuals know when to seek additional support and where to go if they are struggling.
- The services that can support those who are struggling can offer support in a timely manner without being placed on a waiting lists.
Then we must work together. It’s not an option, it is an imperative.
About the Author: Shelby Hale
Shelby has been with The Lily-Jo Project since 2018, serving as the platform’s Content and Communications Manager. Having lived in four different countries throughout her young adulthood, Shelby is passionate about the positive impact new experiences can have on mental health.
When she’s not working with The Lily-Jo Project, she supports other projects through her creative agency, Hale Marketing and Communications. If you’d like to stay updated with Shelby’s story, you can find her on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.