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MP nominates influential Hertfordshire mental health campaign for NHS Award

Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has nominated Hertfordshire’s Just Talk campaign for an NHS Parliamentary Award in recognition of the unprecedented influence that the campaign has had in raising awareness of young people’s mental health.

Just Talk is a positive mental health campaign jointly co-ordinated by Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group, East and North Herts Clinical Commissioning Group and Hertfordshire County Council, delivered by a network of partner organisations. 

It is designed to raise awareness of mental health in an equitable way for boys and girls, raise awareness of self-help techniques, increase consistency of mental health language and reduce the stigma associated with talking about mental health. It also aims to equip schools and other agencies with the tools needed to actively promote mental health and wellbeing.

Mr Afolami nominated the campaign for the ‘The Excellence in Mental Health Care’ award which recognises teams who have worked across organisational boundaries to develop new and effective services to help people living with mental health problems in their community.

The NHS Parliamentary Awards were set up last year in celebration of the 70th birthday of the NHS. The 2019 awards will take place on Wednesday 10th July in the House of Commons, and all shortlisted nominees will be invited to attend.

Bim Afolami MP met the Public Health team and Sarah Hobson-Riley, from one of the Hertfordshire schools involved on Friday 14 June.

Bim Afolami said:

“I wanted to nominate the #JustTalk campaign for this award because of the significant contribution it has had on attitudes to mental health, not just in the Hertfordshire area but also at a regional and national level.

“The #JustTalk network ran activities in local schools, and to support this, they launched a high-profile social media campaign. The social media campaign was hugely successful, reaching over four and a half million people in the first month of the campaign.”

Kathryn Magson, CEO of NHS Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group and Chair for the Hertfordshire Emotional and Mental Wellbeing Board said:

“Bim Afolami’s nomination of the campaign for an NHS Parliamentary Award is well deserved. In 2016, Hertfordshire’s Health Related Behaviour Questionnaire stated that 24 per cent of 12-13 year old boys in Hertfordshire kept worries about their mental health to themselves. Following the #JustTalk campaign in 2018, this figure had reduced to 20 per cent and boys were also more likely to talk to others if they were worried about tests, exams or school work. This is an impressive achievement.”

Executive Member for Public Health and Prevention at Hertfordshire County Council, Tim Hutchings, said:

“We are delighted that the #JustTalk campaign has received this recognition, Hertfordshire County Council takes young people’s mental health issues extremely seriously and has made a continuing commitment towards resolving such problems.  The campaign is a perfect example of how a partnership approach can achieve so much more than any one organisation alone, we are very proud to have played a leading role in such a successful campaign and prouder still of the many young people who participated, their positive approach has been inspirational.”

Sarah Hobson-Riley, Mental Health Lead at The Reach School, said:

“Introducing the idea of #JustTalk has hugely elevated the profile of mental health in our school and begun to normalise conversations surrounding mental health.

“Coupled with partnerships with the Watford Community Trust we have been able to deliver sessions to all year groups through our REACH time programme (PSHCE). We have also made use of the cross-curricular lessons for subjects such as PE which has created an awareness of how mental health connects to everything that we do and is not just a standalone issue.

This year we are taking the #JustTalk message beyond the four walls of our school and are using the #JustTalk resources at parent awareness evenings for mental health.”

Notes to Editors

Photo attached: L to R: Sarah Hobson-Riley, Mental Health Lead at the Reach School, Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden and Tim Hutchings, Executive Member for Public Health and Prevention at Hertfordshire County Council.

For further information about the campaign, please visit: https://www.justtalkherts.org/just-talk-herts.aspx

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