Plymouth Thriving for Mental Health Awareness Week

The focus of Mental Health Awareness Week this year is stress.

People across Plymouth are sharing examples of how they help themselves and others to thrive as we approach Mental Health Awareness Week (14 – 20 May 2018).

This year Thrive Plymouth focuses on mental health and wellbeing, and individuals and organisations across the city have been working with Plymouth City Council on a range of initiatives to improve wellbeing. Thrive Plymouth is the city’s ten year programme to improve health and reduce health inequalities in Plymouth, led by the council but working in partnership with public, private and third sector organisations in the city.

The theme of the national Mental Health Awareness Week – led by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) – this year is managing stress. Research has shown that two thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes, and stress is a key factor in this. The MHF recommends a number of ways of managing stress, including taking a break at work, doing something you enjoy, staying active, and talking about your feelings. The MHF has a range of resources to promote the week which are free to use for everyone, and can be downloaded here:

Dr Ruth Harrell, Director of Public Health for Plymouth said: “By tackling stress, we can go a long way to tackling mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

“It’s fantastic that so many partners across Plymouth are taking mental health and wellbeing seriously and I’m impressed by the variety of ways people are doing this.

“From making the workplace a nicer place to getting outdoors and enjoying Plymouth’s beautiful natural environment, to joining a local choir or dance group, there are so many things people can do to make themselves and others feel better.”

In particular, the focus of Thrive Plymouth this year is on the five ways to wellbeing (or CLANG) which are:

  • Connect – link up with the people around you
  • Learn – explore something new
  • Active – discover an activity you enjoy
  • Notice – be curious about the world you enjoy
  • Give – share something with others.

Local events

During the week events will be taking place in Plymouth, including a Creative Life event at the Jan Cutting Centre for Healthy Living on Tuesday 15 May from 11am to 3pm. This is a free event on tackling stress and improving mental health, organised by the charity Heads Count. The event is free and open to all and for more information call 01752 563492 or email

Support in Plymouth

Local examples of the five ways to wellbeing in action

Plymouth City Council has been recognised in a number of ways this year for its work around mental health and wellbeing. Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England chose Plymouth for the South West launch of the Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health in March, while the council was also the 100th local authority nationally to be selected by the Centre For Mental Health to have a mental health member champion. At the launch Duncan Selbie said: “I’m delighted so many local authorities, like Plymouth City Council, are using the prevention concordat, working across a wide range of sectors to improve the mental health and wellbeing of their populations.” You can watch a short video from Duncan Selbie’s visit to Plymouth here:

The Council also signed the Time To Change pledge to promote mental health and wellbeing to staff including an action plan to train managers and staff on mental health awareness, improving HR policies and guidance, and working to promote open and honest conversations at work with the support of staff Wellbeing Champions.

More information on Thrive Plymouth and CLANG is available at

Active Neighbourhoods, part of the Council’s Nature Plymouth project (working with a range of other partners), has been using CLANG in a number of ways, from helping to connect people with their local environment and notice the great outdoors to promoting learning about nature to giving their time through volunteering.

Over the past two years, Active Neighbourhoods have engaged with 2,631 people in Plymouth while residents have volunteered 3,270 hours of their time, and 98 per cent of participants said they felt better after taking part in Active Neighbourhoods initiatives.

Jemma Sharman, Active Neighbourhoods Project Coordinator, said: “It’s been an exciting two years with Active Neighbourhoods and we’re really starting to capture and evidence our impact on the health and wellbeing of people and nature. As we look to the future, we’re confident that Active Neighbourhoods will continue to flourish and help deliver a naturally healthy Plymouth.”

Here is a short video about Active Neighbourhoods:

Street Factory which was established in Plymouth in 2007 encourages young people to express themselves using elements of Hip Hop such as dance, DJing and theatre, as well as other activities such as boxing, to improve their confidence, social skills and general wellbeing.

Toby Gorniak, the founder of Street Factory, said: “We empower our staff to become strong role models, understanding the importance of positivity, love and support.

“We encourage people to grow into strong individuals…to use the ten elements of Hip Hop as a way to free their minds and channel the internal fight into something positive. Sharing knowledge, passion and interests with others is something that inspires us, to grow as a company and as individuals. It feeds a desire to ensure that every young person, no matter their background, has a chance to be the best they can be; doing something they love.

“We have found young people just want to feel engaged and valued, being able to make a difference and in some cases make tomorrow better than today.”

You can watch Street Factory’s video here:

Livewell Southwest and Plymouth Argyle are working together to address male mental health through sport. It’s a Goal addresses the problem of depression and other mental health issues in men aged between 16 and 35 – a group traditionally hard to reach by the usual routes.

More than 300 men have benefited from the programme since it was first set up ten years ago. During the sessions, males work as a football team and work through their issues all based around football. After the sessions, everyone participates in a coaching session to help improve mental and physical fitness. Rewards such as tickets and healthy living demonstrations are also in place to help progress participants’ well-being. It’s a Goal also has a small-sided team, which participates in regular tournaments.

More information on the It’s A Goal project is available here 

You can follow all national Mental Health Awareness Week messages on Twitter by searching #MHAW18 and locally by searching #MHWeekPlym

You can also find more local case studies on our Thrive Plymouth web pages here.