Changing the culture around mental health is a foundational building block of this strategy. Far too many of us still think of “depression” and “addiction” as shameful things that happen to other people and must be hidden at all costs. And far too many of us still don’t think about mental wellness the same way we think about physical wellness—as something that can be actively improved and strengthened as part of an everyday commitment to overall health.
The Lord Provost Frank Ross who is the Chair of the new Mental Health Assembly chaired the city’s firsts Thrive Conference. He spoke of how Edinburgh offers a fantastic place to live and work with a quality of life that is second to none. Boasting more trees and volunteers per head of population than anywhere else, our Capital is one of the greenest and most caring cities in the UK. Added to this, employment and educational opportunities are high. It's an ideal environment for wellbeing but when you scratch beneath the surface, there are still too many citizens who aren't receiving the help they need.
Perhaps this is down to stigma, modern city living or that help can be hard to access. With an aging population, loneliness can be a major issue while others might not realise they're struggling or know where to turn. It's time we got to the root of mental health in Edinburgh and to do this, we need to collaborate as a city. I want to see us take a closer look at the initiatives we're already undertaking to understand how far we've come and where we can collaborate further.
Following the conference, the Lord Provost chaired a new mental health assembly to explore ways of improving opportunities to support people in the Capital. Representatives from a cross-section of leaders from our city’s public services, academic institutions, voluntary and private sector the will meet three times a year over the next decade.
A wonderful performance by Strange Town Theatre Company brought to life many of the issues and emotions which were touched on throughout the day. Listen Think Draw encapsulated the day through their wonderful illustrative skills.
Preview the report from the Thrive Edinburgh Conference below:
This will comprise of more than 20 City agencies from every sector of government, including health, employment, law enforcement, education, youth development, employment relations, academia and culture, The Assembly will serve as a key vehicle for managing mental health initiatives, policy-making, and problem-solving It will also ensure that the City is effectively implementing these initiatives, especially those that involve multiple agencies, by tracking their progress and engaging in collaborative problem solving.
The Assembly will lead an effort to identify partnership opportunities, share best practices, and provide City agencies with the tools they need to help their employees and their programs contribute to our mental health effort.
If we want to make a real difference on mental health, we cannot shy away from addressing big issues like income inequality, racial discrimination, use of public space, and housing instability. The Thrive Assembly will be an entity to analyze these efforts through a mental health lens and determine where additional work is required. The Assembly will take on this role and work with member agencies to create new shared policies to advance Thrive Edinburgh.