This Mental Health Awareness Week Dr Phil Moore, chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners, Mental Health Commissioners Network talks about services that help us to thrive not just survive … 

We all want to survive … but is that enough? Most of us wish to feel we are thriving in life with a zest for living! Sadly, poor mental health can rob us of that privilege and leave us only surviving, often by the skin of our teeth, or, worse, giving up on survival.

The key is having services that help us to work on our mental wellbeing not purely services that help once when we are struggling. 

Don’t get me wrong. Those are important and we know most of us will recover once we get the support we need. But the truth is that the sooner we get help the better. The difference first-class services can make when they intervene early to help us when we are struggling with our mental health is striking and rewarding.

More than that, we can follow through the early recovery by working on the aftercare, getting us back to normal life as soon as possible. This phase is increasingly in evidence but is not yet universal. Once we get back to feeling part of our social group and in work it helps build our future resilience.

Resilience needs to be an ever-bigger focus. Our ability to hold through the tough times with the help of others around us is vital. All political parties agree on this and people, from royalty to you and me, being prepared to talk about it will help us all be more open without fearing being stigmatised.

This focus on mental wellbeing is of such importance it should be embedded in our lives from early school years to secondary education (when we are becoming more independent from family) to relationships to childbirth to work-life balance to mid-life to aging and dying! The focus can be on thriving with what we have – there are many ideas out there that can support us in happiness in life. We need to see the language of resilience embedded from a young age

So, we want to push hard on the promotion of good mental health. This is entirely in line with plans for mental health arising from national politicians of all parties, from local councils and from the NHS. 

To thrive and not just survive, we are prioritising promotion of mental wellbeing and early intervention when we start to struggle. These are unquestionably priorities for the members of NHS Clinical Commissioners’ (NHSCC) Mental Health Commissioners Network, committed and passionate people from all around the country determined to see mental health promoted equally alongside physical health.

Our most recent report, Support from the start, was themed around this. It centres on four excellent projects across the country, which focus on different aspects of early intervention in mental healthcare: resilience in school children, perinatal mental health, support for those bereaved by suicide and early intervention in psychosis. One of the programmes specifically tells about boosting the resilience of school children in Hounslow, enabling children to communicate about their inner responses and acquire an emotional language to help them build resilience in life.

It has felt like a long time coming but the importance of good mental health is now finally being recognised. The tide is turning and we can keep the momentum so that we are all provided with the services they need and deserve to help them not simply survive, but also to thrive.