Mental health in an unequal world

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day and the theme this year is “mental health in an unequal world”. Obviously one topic that will occupy all our thinking across the globe is the impact of the COVID pandemic.

Here in the UK, while the worst of the pandemic has hopefully passed, the consequences carry on. There is evidence that the pandemic exposed existing inequalities, such as in health, and widened the gap on others, such as digital exclusion. Here in east London we are working with community partners with the support of our corporate supporters to address the COVID recovery priorities – and in doing so directly or indirectly, also impacting on the drivers of positive mental health.

A good job, giving fulfilment and financial security; a decent place to live, with access to green and open space; with good relationships in a community where everyone is respected and valued. All these are cited by public health colleagues as being among the drivers of positive wellbeing.

Without being too Pollyanna-ish – lots of people are really struggling just now – it’s good to see the extent to which people have reached out to help others. In the last year just under 6,000 business people have given their time to help people and communities in east London to tackle just those drivers of wellbeing. They needn’t have – after all, they had their own issues to deal with – but they did, and each act of kindness represented by those numbers has helped create a better environment where wellbeing can flourish -and volunteering itself has its own wellbeing benefits too.

It is an unequal world, in mental health as in everything else, but through simple, small acts of kindness and volunteering we can help to change our bit of the world.

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