TODAY is World Mental Health Day and this week also sees the launch of Public Health England’s new Every Mind Matters campaign, to promote ways in which we can all look after our own mental health.

With estimates that one in four adults will experience mental health issues at any one time, it is no surprise that most of us know someone who has experienced mental health problems or faced them ourselves. In County Durham, 12 per cent of adults report having a long-term mental health issue, while one in 10 children have a diagnosed mental health disorder. Most worryingly, across the country, levels of mental ill health are projected to increase.

If we are to tackle the problem, it is essential we work together to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health, making it easier for people to talk about their own experiences and, crucially, ask for help.

The Northern Echo:

On World Mental Health Day last year, we signed the Time to Change pledge, a commitment to changing the way we think and act about mental health at work. Since then, 14 other County Durham employers have joined us and today we’re encouraging more to do so.

As a result of our commitment, County Durham became a funded Time to Change Hub. This has meant we have been able to offer funding of up to £500 to support groups and individuals holding activities which challenge mental health stigma and discrimination.

As part of our strategic commitment to ensuring a healthy workforce across County Durham, we are also working with the SME sector to raise awareness of good mental health in the workplace and what employers can do to achieve and sustain it among their staff.

And our focus is not just on mental health at work, our Wellbeing for Life team has spent the past month spreading positive messages about mental health in the community, using everything from social media posts to beer mats. Meanwhile, organisations will come together this month at the annual County Durham Partnership event to talk about the work they are doing to promote good mental health, and look at how culture and the arts can be used to improve the mental wellbeing of our residents.

The modern world can be a hectic and confusing place, so it is incredibly important that we create a society where people are encouraged to speak openly about our mental health and seek help when it is needed.

Councillor Simon Henig is leader of Durham County Council