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05 October 2023

World Mental Health Day 2023

This month, we celebrate World Mental Health Day on 10th October, raising awareness of the importance of protecting and valuing mental health and recognising the challenges that people face. Liz Waters, Engagement Programme Manager and Mental Health First Aider, talks about how Overcoming MS is supporting the community with their mental health.

This year, the theme is: ‘Mental health is a universal human right‘.

“Mental health is a basic human right for all people. Everyone, whoever and wherever they are, has a right to the highest attainable standard of mental health. This includes the right to be protected from mental health risks, the right to available, accessible, acceptable, and good quality care, and the right to liberty, independence and inclusion in the community” – WHO 2023

Mental Health and MS

Mental health risks are significantly higher for people living with MS, or other long-term conditions. The MS Trust report ‘Life changing: mental health and MS‘ found that 56% of survey respondents reported that MS had impacted their mental health moderately or severely. 

This year we worked with other UK MS charities, including MS Society, MS Trust, MS-UK, Shift.MS and MS National Therapy Centres to understand the lived experience of mental health within our communities and to propose recommendations on what can be done to ensure everyone can access support when they need it. 

The report identified key themes such as grief and illness perception at the time of diagnosis, isolation, impact on relationships and peer support and made recommendations including improved access to talking therapies for people with MS.

At Overcoming MS, we are committed to supporting the mental health of our community and understand the importance of having safe spaces to talk and people to reach out to. Our Community Engagement team are qualified mental health first aiders, skilled in recognising and responding to a mental health crisis. We also recognise the impact isolation and lack of peer support can have on mental health and wellbeing in people living with MS, and we are deeply committed to creating opportunities for our community to connect with others.

Supporting your mental wellbeing: Connecting with others

Engaging with others on the Live Well Hub and being part of a Circle can offer an opportunity to meet with other people living with or supporting someone else with MS. This can have a significant positive impact on your mental health.

We are welcoming hundreds of new members to the Live Well Hub, supporting people living with, or supporting someone else living with MS to live healthier, happier lives by following the Overcoming MS Program.

The Hub offers a safe and supportive environment to connect with others, share stories and learn new things. We also host our Circles spaces on the Hub, where you can connect with others in your local area or those with a shared interest. Our Circles support each other on their MS journeys, led by an Ambassador who understands the Overcoming MS Program and supports others to follow it.

“I just sat down with this group of people living with MS who I could connect with on so many levels, and a lot of them were a lot further down this journey, and to see that hope was amazing” – Overcoming MS Circle member

Supporting your mental wellbeing: Events

Our award-winning Pathway course offers a space to share experiences with others whilst learning more about the Overcoming MS Program. Our first cohort reported a 36% increase in self-reported mental health and wellbeing:

“I really liked being able to meet and see different people living with MS this has been so key for me as I’m yet to meet anyone with MS. It really helped my mental health and my positivity outlook on my diagnosis. Thank you all very much.” – Pathway course member

Find out more about our Pathway course by emailing [email protected].

This year, we were also delighted to be able to deliver our Healthy Boundaries training to our volunteers and Ambassadors. This training provides solutions and suggestions for managing the stresses and strains when supporting others.

We are here to support you!

“We understand that living with MS can be challenging, and we want to promote good mental health to our community at every opportunity. We are here to support people living with MS at any point in their journey, from newly diagnosed to living with MS for many years, and we are always looking for more ways to adapt and support people with their mental health. Our webinar Mental Health and Wellbeing | Overcoming MS can support you in understanding your mental health better and help you to recognise when you might need a bit of extra support. We also have other resources to support you including guided mindfulness and meditation activities.” – Liz Waters, Community Engagement Programme Manager

Support lines and services

Talking about mental health is important, so find someone you feel you can safely talk to such as a family member, friend or GP. There are also other support lines and services if you either wish to talk to someone you don’t know or need help more urgently.

Mental Health America (US)

Mental Health Foundation (UK)

Beyond Blue (Australia)

You can also find more support on our Mental Health Hub here: Mental Health Hub