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Mental Health Awareness Week – BBC News presenter Julian Worricker blog

For Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, journalist Julian Worricker has penned a personal blog exclusively for Richmond Fellowship about his experience of a friend’s battle with mental ill health.

Julian is a presenter on the BBC News channel, Radio 4 and the BBC World Service.

“I have a photo on the window ledge of my study, and each time I look up from my computer keyboard it catches my eye. It’s a close-up of a dear friend of mine…she’s leaning forward, chin resting on her hands, smiling broadly, as she so often did. I look at her sometimes when I’m in need of a bit of wise advice – she was always very good at wise advice – and occasionally I look at her with a hint of envy because she remains ever youthful while I’ve added lots of grey hairs and a few kilos since we were last able to meet in person. You can probably guess where this story is going.

This dear friend – Sue – took her own life in 1998; a shattering blow to her partner, her family, and to all those of us who knew her. It was a horrible culmination of acute mental health issues that she wrestled with over a number of years, and it’s why shining a brighter spotlight on mental health has always been important to me.

I’ve been very fortunate, in that my experience of fragile mental health has been mostly seen through the travails of others. Like everyone I’ve had my ups and downs, my good days and bad, but none of those come close to the challenges faced by people like Sue. Her normally bright and bubbly personality could be transformed in a matter of hours by her illness. The shutters would come down, there’d be a blankness to her facial expression, and whatever you tried by way of casual conversation was met with a look of tiredness, indifference and confusion. I didn’t understand why, but you could tell she didn’t either.

I feel sure that if she were alive today, she’d be able to look back with pride at an increasingly successful broadcasting career…and still forwards, too, to more of the same. She’d still love a bit of gossip about the workplace, she’d never lose sight of some of the dafter aspects of what we do for a living, and she’d still be thinking of others before she thought of herself.

So I hope Mental Health Awareness Week can reduce the numbers of stories like hers.

The global pandemic has tested all of us, and it’s probably raised the issue of mental health in the minds of people who’ve not had to think about it a great deal before. The timing, therefore, could be serendipitous. Let’s make the push for greater awareness count, and ensure that our decision makers live up to their promises on this crucial issue”. – Julian Worricker.

You can watch Julian’s introductory video to Mental Health Awareness Week at Richmond Fellowship here and follow our social media channels across the week for more Mental Health Awareness Week stories.

Radio Sparky: May Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 video special

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, we’ve a special video episode of Radio Sparky, the podcast which shines the spotlight on the excellent work happening at Richmond Fellowship services across the country.

In May’s edition, Matt Webb, Communications and Marketing Officer speaks to John from our Cambridgeshire Employment Service and Leah from Leicestershire Life Links about how they’ve been Connecting with Nature as coronavirus lockdown restrictions begin to ease.

Mental Health Awareness Week – The Old Moat Garden Centre

“I have found coming to the Old Moat during the pandemic has helped me so much – it is the one place that I feel at peace. I can focus on taking care of the plants, learn about them and be with people who are just so kind, supportive and accept me for who I am whether I’m having a good or bad day. I am truly grateful for that.” Person we support.

How much do you know about Richmond Fellowship? You might well know that we’re a national mental health charity. Or that we’ve been going for over 60 years. But did you know that one of our services supporting people’s mental health is … a garden centre? 

If you didn’t then we can think of no better time to tell you all about it. Because this week it’s Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme this year is nature.  

But our Old Moat Garden Centre and Café in Epsom isn’t simply about selling people plants to brighten up their mood and home. It’s actually a social enterprise designed to help people living with mental ill health (re-)gain important life skills.  

At any one time the Old Moat is supporting around 50 people living with mental ill health. The support is rigorous and wide ranging.  They provide the people who use the service with a safe and secure experience of working in a commercial environment, and help them to identify what support may be needed to help them meet their future plans and aspirations.

Not only that but with the help of local organisations like the Workers’ Educational Association they provide courses in subjects like, stress management, confidence building, customer service and creative arts.

It’s not surprising that the service has won a number of awards – most recently the Good Retail Awards “Community Award” for the second year running! And this Mental Health Awareness Week we wanted to particularly appreciate the work that they do – not just this week, but all year through to support people’s mental health. As they say themselves – “Helping plants AND people grow”.

We asked people we support at the Old Moat to tell us in their own words how nature has helped them this past year and we leave you with these quotes and striking examples of the Japanese haiku.

 

Probably for me it’s being able to go out with Tilly (my dog) and just detox from all the noise in the world and the stress. Just to even go out into my garden and sit with no distractions or worries and just listen to the birds and the wind in the trees and feel as if even though the world may be in panic for now I don’t have to be.”

“I have had two plants for over a year and I look forward to watering them. The outside plant is in full bloom purple colours. And the inside plant is really green but small reddish flowers are starting to come out of the plant. I’ve enjoyed watering them even though I have no idea how many times a week I’m meant to water them. I think it was Jane that told me that if they look sad water them. Thanks for the advice it’s paying off!” 

Haiku by person we support

little butterfly

sits on my finger and blinks

to show me heaven

 

a dot in the sky

sends such beautiful music

it must be a lark

 

Pom Pom Dahlia

so precisely engineered

there must be a God!

 

two mute swans lift off

each wing clipping the river

to show me rhythm

 

the Ursa Major

looks like a huge question mark

in the midnight sky

 

miniscule midges

manically hovering

invite me to dance

 

the Earth is at work

producing wonderful things 

take time to ponder

 

a slug slowly slides

along the moonlit garden

and shows me the time

 

a murder of crows

congregate on a steeple

spelling out gothic

 

the feverish flies

find the carrion flower

pulchritudinous

 

the defeated moth

attracted into the flame

teaches me hindsight

 

flashing fire-flies

on a night to remember

tell me to shine bright!

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. It’s always an important one for Richmond Fellowship, but this year even more so. 

This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is Nature, and we know that as we come out of lockdown and enforced social isolation going outside and interacting with the wider community might prove hard for many. Richmond Fellowship and the wider Recovery Focus Group will be part of the recovery journey, offering advice on dealing with social anxiety and signposting to relevant services. We will continue to speak up about the stigma surrounding mental health and encourage people to seek support should they need it. 

Not only that but many of our services already focus on the positive mental health benefits of getting outside and engaging with nature – from the Old Moat Garden Centre to residential services’ gardening programs.  

Here’s what to expect this week:

• Shining the spotlight on our services offering support that engages with nature.
• Photos from our staff that have been getting outside, remaining active and connecting with nature these past few months.
• Hearing from staff and people we support about the positive impact getting outside and immersing with nature can have on our mental health and wellbeing in a special Radio Sparky Podcast episode.
• Top tips on dealing with social anxiety as some parts of our lives return to normality from Karl at our Kirklees Employment Service.
• We will be hearing from Julian Worricker, BBC News presenter who will be talking about the importance of removing the stigma around mental health and sharing a story about how mental ill health affected a close colleague and friend.

Make sure you are following Richmond Fellowship on Twitter and like our Facebook Page to keep up with #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.