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Our stories – London’s Great Mental Health Day

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust is supporting Great Mental Health Day, taking place on Friday, 26 January 2024.

Great Mental Health Day is a chance for us to talk about our mental health and wellbeing and to help break that stigma that so often exists around the subject. It is an opportunity to share awareness of the great local support services that are available. As well as acting as a reminder that we can all do our bit to spread hope and kindness, and to help each other.

Here are stories from three of our staff members.

John Lawlor, Chair

John looking at the camera with a neutral expression

“I’m passionate about improving our mental health – as a person with lived experience and as Chair of the Tavistock and Portman Trust.

I have lived with severe depression for 25 years now. I spent years believing it was just me and nothing could or would help.

But thanks to three people – a psychiatrist, a psychologist and my wife, Julie, I have been proved wrong. Thanks to these three people’s determination, skills and support, I have largely been free of severe depression for over 5 years now. 

I believe we can all be helped to live well, despite our mental health challenges. Talking about it certainly helps, as does support from professionals, friends and family.

Let’s come together to improve people’s mental health across London.”

Gem Davies, Chief People Officer

Gem smiling at camera with a group of runners waving behind her
Gem with her running group

“For me, exercise and connecting with nature are the most important ways I can maintain good mental health. After the death of my husband, I started taking long walks over the park, pushing my son in his buggy, and chatting to him about the birds and squirrels we could see. On heavier days the uphills were great for releasing mental tension! I later took up running (enjoying running outside or on trails the most), and now I really notice if I haven’t been able to exercise for a few days. I also give back by volunteering and run directing at my local parkrun (see photo) and so many participants talk about the boost it gives them mentally.”

Alisha Nurse, Communications and Engagement Manager

Alisha looking at camera with a neutral expression

“People always tell me they admire how open I am about my mental health. I know why they say it but I still don’t get why it’s a big deal. I’ve lived with depression, anxiety and trauma my whole life and it doesn’t take away from my greatness, my talents, or the love I have to give. If anything, it’s made me more empathetic, and really opened my eyes to the need for empathy in the world.

It’s really hurts when people try to diminish you, discredit you or put you at a disadvantage because you have mental health problems. But that won’t ever stop me from being open about mental health. It actually gives me conviction that openness and empathy are needed more than ever.”

How to get involved in London’s Great Mental Health Day

Graphic saying Great Mental Health Day in London

You can get involved by exploring the Great Mental Health Day interactive map on Thrive LDN’s website, join an online event, or use the hashtag #GreatMentalHealth to share their own stories, experiences and plans for the day across all social media platforms.

Dr Rachel James, Clinical Services Director at the Trust said: “Great Mental Health Day serves as a vital reminder to pause, reflect, and prioritise our mental wellbeing. By exploring the significance of connections, we aim to inspire a citywide conversation that promotes understanding, empathy, and support.

“We encourage all Londoners to get involved in Great Mental Health Day 2024. Whether it’s participating in community events in Camden, joining discussions, or simply reaching out to friends and neighbours, every action counts.”

For more details about the day visit Thrive LDN’s website or search ‘Great Mental Health Day London’.