Brighter Berkshire is an initiative which evolved through many connected conversations about the growing issues linked with mental health in Berkshire. It builds on the desire by many to do something proactive and which would allow absolutely anyone to get involved. The initial group who now make up the Core Team of Berkshire people who

  • have lived experience of mental health problems
  • have cared for people with mental health problems
  • work or have worked in mental health services
  • are passionate about mental health and wellbeing

It was then initially supported by Healthwatch West Berkshire to get it off the ground and Newbury MP Richard Benyon.

We are embracing and helping the community desire to make a real difference for people who need mental health support locally. We think it is possible that by coming together in a variety of creative ways under this theme over a year, it can really make a big difference.

We also believe there is a huge range of things we can all do to help ourselves by looking after our mental health in the same way we do our physical health. Being able to live in a community which understands the vital importance of good mental health to every single one of us, is essential to this being successful.

There are many resources in all of us the community, which if mobilised and connected can make a massive impact across the county.

We will help bring people, ideas and activity together locally to

  • raise the profile of mental health
  • reduce stigma and
  • improve the support available to people who need it.

We will do this through encouraging, facilitating and supporting lots of open conversations around mental health, do creative things to engage a wider range of people in mental health than ever and also help increase funds to local mental health charities who provide so much early support for people who need it.


  • In Berkshire, reported suicides for those in contact with MH services has almost doubled last year from number of suicides in April 2013-2014 being 17 and April 2014-2015 29.
  • More people are affected by mental health problems than any other health problem.
  • 1 in 4 people are affected by issues linked to poor mental health but all of us need to look after our mental health.
  • Poor mental health increases poor physical health.
  • Building mental health resilience in early years is essential to prevent the longer term mental health issues – includes issues linked to poverty and abuse
  • Public services are being cut due to austerity – we have a collective whole community responsibility to think what can be done differently – together.
  • Stigma is still one of the largest barriers to good mental health & getting the right support.
  • It makes economic sense to focus on the across a system locally. People are more economically productive when they have good mental health.
  • There is resource, passion and capacity in communities which could help solve some issue but need support and to be connected better.
  • A sustained one year long initiative of connected county wide activities could really change a generation’s mental health.
  • Having a Berkshire wide year long initiative makes it easier for many to have conversations about mental health in a way at other times would not be easy.
  • It can generate activity in smaller local groups in a way not done before and an opportunity over the year to do this, for example school mums creating events to talk mental health because ‘its the year of mental health’ etc.

Planning Event 16th December, Newbury

78 people signed up to our planning event form a number of areas right across the county. They have helped shape the ambition and some activity ideas for the year and will be crucial on an ongoing basis to help this make an impact. Check out our write up from the day here


We have an ambition is to to make a long term difference to mental health through

  • Building the largest countywide network of diverse people, ideas and voluntary commitment to come together to improve mental health
  • Demonstrating that by coming together as a local community, we can all improve mental health and wellbeing of our population.
  • Develop a central online place for anyone in Berkshire to connect on mental health and wellbeing.

We will share all the types of things happening which we hope will inspire others to participate to make the difference. We will working through pledges, events, information sharing and supported by local media.

Contact us if you would like to understand what you can do or if you would like us to find someone to come and speak to your team or organisation about mental health or this initiative. An example of what pledges could look like…

  • Businesses could sign up to make a pledge to improve the mental health of your workforce or create a work opportunity for someone with a mental health problem.
  • Schools make a pledge to talk more about mental health or hold an event to raise awareness.
  • Individuals make a pledge to make a difference to your own or someone else’s mental health. Have a conversation, send an email, fundraise for a local mental health charity.
  • Health and Care Services could pledge to support this initiative in some way through encouraging their staff to talk in their communities about mental health, sharing what they do do support mental health generally or for their workforce.
  • Politicians could make a pledge to make a difference through the work or campaigning they do, increase any visits to areas promoting mental health or ash people when meeting them what they are doing to support mental health.
  • Local Mayors could pledge to spend a set proportion of their engagements on mental health and helping to raise awareness of the may issues linked to mental health.
  • Local Media could pledge to promote a regular piece on mental health and help share positive messages and information to a wider population to help with having a Big Conversation.

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Year of Mental Health 2017

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