The Royal Borough is proud to support Brighter Berkshire as it today launches a year of focused events to raise further awareness on mental health.

The council hopes the programme makes a real difference to the mental wellbeing of its residents.

Brighter Berkshire is a county-wide collaboration that brings together local authorities, health partners, businesses, schools and the wider community to share experiences. This will raise the profile of how mental health can and does affect people’s lives and how they can be successful with the right support.

Launching today (Monday 16 January), the scheme will mark the start of a year-long series of special events. The council plans to support this by making sure its own policies and services fully respect mental health issues. This includes:
•    mental health impact screening of local policies
•    establishing a schools network to raise awareness in children and young people
•    offering mental health first aid training to council staff and local secondary schools
•    working with partners across Berkshire to launch a Berkshire-wide suicide prevention strategy
•    implementing numerous projects on reducing stigma.

Cllr MJ Saunders, mental health champion for the council and mental health patient, said: “The best way to begin improvements in mental health is to talk honestly. By starting this year in an open collaboration with the whole community, through Brighter Berkshire, we will engage with our residents and partner agencies.

“We want to lead by example here at the Royal Borough and will be offering mental health first aid training to our staff throughout the month.

“Incorporating respect and understanding of how mental health issues can affect people is at the core of how we think about residents’ health. I am proud to say we now include awareness of mental health in many of our plans and policies and want to see this adopted across the board.”

Cllr Stuart Carroll, cabinet member for public health, who has been involved in helping set up the initiative, said: “We cannot promote public health and wellbeing without talking about mental health. Across the council, we have adopted an approach that is clear that there is no public health without mental health. I am delighted we are supporting this initiative and will be taking a lead role in the campaign.

“It is so important that we talk openly about mental health, remove the stigmas surrounding it and treat it with the same importance as physical health and other conditions. Around one in four of us will be affected in some way by mental health issues and we hope that by shining a light on it this year, we can make a real difference for our residents and employees, and make 2017 the year of mental health.”