You will have seen that it was Mental Health Awareness Week a couple of weeks ago – the theme was ‘nature.’ The Mental Health Foundation, the charity hosting the awareness activities, chose this theme in recognition of how important the natural world is in helping support people’s mental wellbeing. Something I know we have all appreciated in the past months.
Rightly, this topic was put into the limelight for a few days. I believe we should be talking about mental health all year round.
Whilst we are lucky in Mendip to have nature on our doorsteps, this is not something everyone has been able to enjoy. The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on our mental health across the spectrum of anxiety and depression, to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Loneliness is strongly linked to worsening mental health – connecting with other people helps us all cope better with our difficulties. The current crisis has therefore had an impact on almost everyone. It’s clear that many people are feeling fractious – others are exhausted as restrictions lift and we start being able to socialise again. It’s so important we take care of ourselves, and each other, to keep our spirits lifted.
At Mendip we have been doing everything we can to support people in the district and have designated mental health champions to support the council’s workers as well as our residents. We have also been working closely with mental health charity Mind in Somerset on a creative arts project in Frome.
A series of poems have been written by the staff at Mind, as well as the people who are supported by the charity from across Somerset, brilliantly capturing the thoughts and feelings from an extraordinary year.
The poets were inspired by the stunning photography displayed on the hoardings at the Saxonvale site in the centre of Frome, taken by Frome photographer Tim Gander, installed some months ago at Merchants Barton Car Park.
The poignant words have been displayed alongside their corresponding photo panels for local people and visitors to read and enjoy.
As the Saxonvale development evolves, it will offer a new way of living and working in the heart of the town, and we envisage it will become a central hub for arts creativity too.
And back to the importance of nature mentioned above, as one of the poets Leanne Hibberd puts it better than I can:
“Abandoned, rusting and left without care
But wait… what’s that? There on the ground
A tiny green shoot, the earth is not bare
Nature reclaiming, resilient, new life!”
Take care of yourselves and as always, do get in touch either on my email [email protected], or my Facebook page @Ros.Wyke.
Written by Cllr Ros Wyke, Leader of Mendip District Council
Please get in touch either on my Facebook page @Ros.Wyke or you can send me an email: [email protected].