It was great to have another sunny weekend attending local events including the West Grinstead Ploughing Match - held in Partridge Green in its 150th Anniversary Year - and Balcombe Fete, this weekend is busy again with many events taking place including the Barns Green Half Marathon.
While many are relishing getting “back to normal” I appreciate that for some, after time spent in lockdown and with the ongoing (albeit reduced) risk of infection, this remains an anxious and difficult time.
The same anxieties will be felt by some young people returning to school with the social pressure that can bring - its another issue of which I know teachers have been very conscious as the academic year resumes.
We all remain extremely focussed on providing support for young people in the area - including on issues around mental health.
I recently met a local team of psychologists working in Horsham to discuss the issues they are seeing and how we can better support those young people struggling with their mental health as so often this comes down to encouraging more people to come into what can be an incredibly rewarding area of medicine.
Across the NHS more staff are coming on board with 6,500 more doctors, almost 10,600 more nurses and over 18,700 more health support workers compared with a year ago although demands across the NHS are increasing (hence the recent controversial but necessary additional investment in the service to help the NHS tackle the looming Covid-induced backlog of cases). However few areas have such a increase in demand as mental health services.
Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust recently launched a new careers portal, showing the vacancies they have available: https://careers.sussexpartnership.nhs.uk/ and encouraging those with suitable experience to consider what is a hugely necessary and valuable role.
On the voluntary side I was pleased to speak recently with the Chief Executive of Shout, a free 24/7 mental health text support service.
Shout relies on volunteers to answer text messages from people struggling with their mental health. Volunteers work with service users to help them stay calm and to explore the issues they are facing. All conversations are overseen by a clinician and each conversation is risk assessed.
As our habits in lockdown changed, Shout saw more people texting later at night and recruited a large number of volunteers in New Zealand to meet this demand.
I know many local people are keen to know what they could do to help people in distress. The Samaritans is one invaluable service reliant on trained volunteers and Shout will also be re-opening their volunteer recruitment next month (https://giveusashout.org/volunteer-shout/).
Shout is available on 85258, is free to texters and does not show on phone bills.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Quin at the Balcombe Fete and at the Ploughing Match