Planning Event 16th December 2016 Summary

A planning event was held in Newbury Rugby Club on 16th December to understand more what might be possible over the year of mental health and what was the level of ambition for the year. Almost 70 people turned up for the event from across Berkshire with every Council area represented.  More detail can be found on the website. 

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Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, gave a strong and passionate speech. He  made a clear commitment to work with a range of people over the year to make a significant local impact on this issue.

He said 'The aim of Brighter Berkshire is to bring us together to work to change the culture around mental health – to encourage that ‘big conversation’ and drive it up the agenda not just as far as the statutory agencies are concerned but out there in the community. And also to spread the word about the resources that are available already and to share good practice. This is all about networking and working together and this is why we are all here today – to commit to making a difference to mental health in Berkshire over the next 12 months. There is great commitment to Brighter Berkshire from all my Berkshire colleagues from Fiona McTaggart in the east to here in the west. The Prime Minister is also very supportive and wants to be involved in such a good endeavour from her Maidenhead constituency.' 
His full speech can be found here 

Lisa McNally, Public Health Consultant for Bracknell-Forest made a plea to focus on emotional and mental health wellbeing for young people, focusing on self-esteem  as an effective approach to the growing people needing mental health support. She also shared with us her personal story of mental illness as a student and something she manages daily through loving relationships and exercise. 

Angela Ryan, who has just set up the first Recovery in Mind College in West Berkshire, talked about her journey through severe mental illness, near suicide and her own recovery. She has had amazing results from her first group of students and is hoping to get 200 students through in her first year. 

Nicky Jeromme, talked emotionally from her own experience about how long anxiety and depression can go hidden and the damage to family and career this can have. She made a commitment last year to share her experience to help others while using knitting and running to help her own symptoms. 

Andy Bell, Deputy Chief Executive for the Centre for Mental Health took us through what other areas have found to be the most effective way of making a difference to this issue.

We enjoyed the power of music for ourselves with Vox Skool from Victoria Bee Bee who also shared her own journey through mental illness.
We are now building the team, network of people and activity to make this a success.

Summary of some discussions 

Aspirational ideas expressed included notions of community, working together in communities, towards a cultural shift that would see people in everyday places and activities talking about mental health. It would be necessary to generate momentum (in the practical ways described below) and take responsibility as people who use services, care for others, and as members of communities, to work with statutory bodies, political groups and professionals, in ways that support families and volunteers, and avoid relying on or exploiting goodwill. 

Places important to people includes schools, colleges, workplaces, social, leisure, sports, creative spaces, as well as the casual, familiar places we inhabit. 

A receptiveness to people talking about mental health would be evidenced by mental health friendly policies and practices in formal and informal settings, and in our relationships with each other. These would be informed by a deeper knowledge and understanding of both the negative effects of silence, stigma and exclusionary practices, and the positive power of openness, inclusiveness and an assertive approach to maintaining and promoting good mental health.

Practical ideas included formation of a steering group or committee, with dedicated roles, a series of events, aims and goals. Specific ideas have been offered and listed, with popular ideas including safe haven cafes, work with young people and their networks, more effective connectedness between helping agencies, education/training and social/leisure activities open to all. A new openness and visibility would characterise Brighter Berkshire’s A Year of Mental Health, particularly in everyday places and activities. Learning from others may include connecting with other regions, mapping resources, signposting and creating resources.   

The need for a narrative was expressed in order to help us make connections with other important societal contributors to mental ill health, to understand the importance of context, and to offer some ideas of how the future might be different. A narrative that challenges the dominant tendency to locate mental health problems with individuals and families is overdue; one that offers new learning and understanding of the role played by communities and organisations as well as by individuals and those in positions of influence. 

The importance of working with statutory partners, independent/third sector and charitable organisations was a given, however it was the perspective and insight of people with experience of ill health and of recovery/self management that enabled us to see mental health services in the most memorable ways.  

Launch Date 16th January 2016 

We will  be using the great opportunity BBC Radio Berkshire has given us of providing a monthly 2 hour slot for mental health which will be led completely by those with direct experience of mental health issues. The first of these programmes will be 11am-1pm on the 16th January, with some trailers on the Breakfast Show that day. Please tune in and share with as many people as possible that this is happening and provide the BBC with feedback on this initiative. 

Whats else is happening on launch day? 

We will be posting to the website all the commitments from people we have received so far and plotting this on to a map of Berkshire. We will also share how we will organise and we will publish the first set of events which have been identified to take place across Berkshire. This will keep and build the momentum for this throughout the year. Tell us what you will be doing so we can share too on the day. 

Ideas in Motion

Activate College in Reading will be helping with our brand and image, supported by people with mental health experience. They will also have a Mental Health project with a public exhibition for their students and plan on doing much more. 

Brighter Voices has been born where all things singing and music will come together around. Go to @BrighterVoices.

Berkshire Businesses are meeting with the core team to discuss what they could do including having quarterly coffee mornings, build an internal award for mental wellbeing, building mental wellbeing into leadership development programmes and better mental health support for young apprentices.  

Get involved now

Individual supporter – You support the initiative and pledge to do something to raise awareness or funds for mental health and share it with us.

Team supporter – You are a team who support the initiative and will as a team pledge to do something to raise awareness or funds for mental health.

Organisation supporter – As an organisation you support the initiative and pledge to do something over the year to raise awareness about mental health and improve mental health in your workplace.

Sponsor- As a sponsor you will pledge some resources to support the initiative.

Champion - You will do something within your sphere of influence to raise awareness about mental health, sign up to share information with your network or have conversations about mental health. You will then share how this is going with us.

Ambassador – You commit to be part of a network of people who are happy to go and talk with other people about the initiative and/or mental health depending on your experience as someone who has either. You will be supported in this role and you would share with us the feedback or impact you have made.


Partners – You are working along-side us with expertise and resources to help shape and develop the initiative. 

Advisors – You are someone with expertise or networks to areas relevant to this initiative and would be happy to provide some advice to us.

Core team- You will be delivering some support to the co-ordination and management of the initiative and will communicate and meet regularly as a team.

Event host – Put on an event to raise awareness or funds for mental health and tell us about it.

Share an idea – This may be something you think would be a great idea for the initiative or to improvement mental health or awareness. It might inspire others so please send it to us. 

Share your story This is a very powerful way to help others understand  through short story, blog, video, or other way you feel best we will try our best to share it and inspire others. 

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