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Feel Real York encourages increased openness about emotional health

Published Monday, 23 November 2020

A new campaign is asking us all to talk more about how we are really feeling during the pandemic, and to share and use resources to support our wellbeing.

Recent data from Our Big Conversation consultation, which asked residents to share their thoughts about the pandemic, identified that nearly 50% of residents felt less emotionally healthy as a result of covid-19 with 57% less optimistic about the future.

To address this, partners across the city are encouraging more openness to help make talking honestly and openly about our mental health or difficult emotions more usual. The campaign, called #FeelRealYork, aims to signpost available support whether for ourselves or others to help benefit or maintain our mental fitness.

The campaign will share the city’s mental health champions’ hints for emotional fitness and will encourage residents to share their own top tips for improving wellbeing as together the city responds to the impact of the pandemic. A single pool of resources from a range of experts are shared on the Live Well York website. They include support from the NHS and national campaigns such as time to change, as well as tailored resources for York including the Tees, Esk and Weir valley Foundation Trusts, York and Selby IAPT and Recovery College Online.

The campaign partners include mental health service providers Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV), the Vale of York CCG, Time To Change York, city partnership LiveWellYork, higher education providers, North Yorkshire Police and York and North Yorkshire LEP.

Councillor Carol Runciman, executive member for heath and adult social care at City of York Council, said:

Nearly half of us in York are struggling with our emotional health and, with so many great resources available to help, we are prompting city-wide healthy conversations about how we are really feeling.

"#FeelRealYork is about opening up about how we really feel and signposting resources that provide practical tips and advice, together with showing how normal it is to feel challenged by the very different circumstances we are now in.

“Like many grandparents, I miss my grandchildren. I know too that I should spend less time following the news. So I’m making the effort to limit my news intake, keep up my hobbies and make more time to chat more often and more openly with friends and family – and my grandchildren, of course.

“Just as we stock up our medicine cabinet, I’d recommend talking to your friends, family, neighbours and using these resources to build or maintain your mental fitness during and beyond the pandemic.”

Naomi Lonergan, Director of Operations for North Yorkshire at TEWV, said:

Looking after our mental wellbeing is important at the best of times. This year has been an exceptionally difficult year for everyone and most people will have been affected in some way by COVID-19. It’s important people know that it’s okay to not feel okay and to understand that sometimes it’s good to talk about how we feel.

“We are really pleased to be able to support this campaign by providing essential advice and guidance, along with signposting to some of our services across the city that can support people during this time.”

Emma Williams, Project Coordinator for Time to Change York said:

We believe that no one should feel ashamed to talk about mental health and that is why we are partners of this campaign.

"A small conversation about mental health has the power to make a huge difference. We know that the more conversations we have, the more myths we can bust and barriers we can break down, helping to end the isolation, shame and worthlessness that too many people with mental health problems are made to feel. 

“You don't have to be an expert in mental health to start your conversation - simply asking your friends, colleagues, and neighbours how they really are and listening to their thoughts without judgement or trying to fix things can make a really positive impact. For more tips on how to have your conversation please visit the Time to Change website."

York’s colleges and universities in a joint statement, said:

The pandemic has changed the way we all live, work and study and the impact on our mental health and wellbeing can affect anyone, at any time.

“In these extraordinarily challenging times, the #FeelRealYork campaign is an opportunity to take stock of how we are all feeling, have open conversations about mental health and share resources and support that make all the difference.

“We all have a role to play in looking out for each other when times are tough and this campaign is a great way for the whole of our York community to take positive steps towards improving emotional health.”

Superintendent Lindsey Butterfield, York Police Commander, said

It is really important that we come together and support each other in these difficult times. I believe this initiative is a fantastic way to encourage the communities of York to look after and check in on each other, and to make sure that those in need of additional support know where to turn to.

“North Yorkshire Police are still here working around the clock to keep local residents and workers safe. We know Covid-19 has resulted in some people feeling more isolated than they would usually do, and understand that this can impact on how safe they feel. If you are concerned about your personal safety, then I would encourage you to call us by dialling 101.”