Across Sussex, we have now delivered well over 20,000 booster jabs. These are being given to everyone aged 50 and over, frontline health and social care workers and those aged between 16 and 49 with an underlying health condition putting them at greater risk from the virus. The booster should be given six months from the date of your second vaccine and GPs are currently inviting those who are eligible. There are also hundreds of appointments available daily through the National Booking System website and by calling 119, so please do come forward if you are eligible, to make sure you’re protected ahead of this winter.
On Sunday we marked World Mental Health Day, which promotes awareness and education about mental health. Most of us will have had some personal experience with a mental health condition, whether our own or that of a loved one. Even more so over the past 20 months, as we’ve had to deal with long periods of isolation, economic uncertainty, lost learning, exam disruption, and in many cases grief at the loss of a loved one. For young people especially, it has been extremely challenging as the pandemic has clipped their wings just before their next adventure, whether heading off to uni, college, the workplace or even to travel.
Talking about mental health is really important so we can recognise issues and encourage people to get help when they need it, and remove unhelpful stigmas. As with almost all health conditions, early intervention and support often prevents a serious condition from developing. To help, the Government has appointed Dr Alex George, as Youth Mental Health Ambassador - for those that don’t know, he is a medical doctor, reality TV star, and a keen advocate for mental health prevention, following his brother sadly taking his own life.
Locally, there’s a huge range of help on offer. A great place to start is Chichester Wellbeing, where you can find advice, and links to a whole range of different support services. The Sussex Mental Healthline service is also available 24/7 for anyone who is experiencing a mental health crisis or for anyone worried about a loved one. They can be contacted on: 0800 0309 500
Nationally, we are keenly aware of these challenges and at the heart of the NHS long-term plan is the largest ever expansion of mental health services. Earlier this year we published the Mental Health Recovery Action Plan, which is backed by an additional £500 million, including £79 million to expand children’s mental health and eating disorder services for many more children and young people. I am looking forward to working to improve these vital services as the newly appointed Minister for Care and Mental Health.