Quite often we hear people state that one of the issues with Mental Health is that we don’t talk enough about it. As we begin Mental Health Awareness Week I beg to differ. I don’t think we can say that anymore. Mental Health and Wellbeing IS being talked about. A lot. Just switch on the radio or television, sneak a peek and a few moments on social media, pick up a newspaper or magazine and you can even see the Royal Family William, Harry and Megan are Kate are using their voices to raise awareness. We are even at the point where celebrities are now being called out for talking about too much and using it for shameless publicity.

I have worked in Early Years and Education for over two decades and never heard such a buzz and conservation about staff Wellbeing and Mental Health.

My point is, we can’t say it’s a subject we don’t talk about anymore because that simply isn’t true, but we still have a long way to go, as the stigma and discrimination attached to Mental Health still continues to discourage people from speaking out about their own Mental Health when they need support.

If we can agree that Mental Health is discussed more widely now, then we have no choice but admit that individually we all have a part to play. To continue the conversation and ensure we take personal responsibility in further developing our own individual knowledge and raise awareness on the fluidity of our mental health and understanding the more complex nature of mental health illnesses.

That’s why weeks such as Mental Health Awareness Week are really important and give our sector the opportunity for professional development and personal development and reflection. Professional development such as preparing for the Ofsted Education Inspection Framework with the Leadership & Management grade descriptors of quality including wellbeing for the first time. Making staff wellbeing a key part of your philosophy is a preventive measure that safeguards Mental Health and not a reactive measures when staff are reaching burn out and crisis point. Personal development and reflection can be understanding our own stress signature and knowing the signs and symptoms of mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety and knowing how to support friends, colleagues or family members.

1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health issue over the next 12 months, that could be stress, anxiety, depression and yet people still don’t understand the difference between mental health and mental illness. We think of it as one and the same thing. There also seems to be a common held belief that it happens to other people. Although everyone IS talking about mental health and wellbeing and self-care are the buzz words of 2019 until we realise that we all have mental health and that we all have part to play, we will still need to have awareness weeks such as this one and need celebrities and advocates to keep up the conversation.

The Facebook group The Early Years Mental Health & Wellbeing Hub Group have created an event for Mental Health Awareness Week sharing, interviews, articles, blogs, videos and information to encourage personal and professional development and reflection.

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