Today, the NHS will launch a new landmark campaign using the iconic Beatles song ‘Help!” to get the nation taking better care of their mental health.
Backed by some of the UK’s biggest artists, the campaign will encourage people struggling with their mental health to seek support.
‘Help!’, written by John Lennon in 1964, was credited by the superstar songwriter as one of his most honest and genuine songs and with lyrics like ‘Help me if you can I’m feeling down’, the song is the ideal soundtrack to get others thinking about their mental wellbeing.
Since the start of the pandemic some 2.3 million people have come forward for NHS talking therapies, but with new figures out today showing that over 50% of people were concerned about their mental health last year – and around half also experiencing stress, anxiety, low mood or depression, and the majority not seeking professional help – many more could benefit.
The NHS is encouraging anybody experiencing anxiety, depression, or other common mental health concerns to come forward and see how talking therapies can help them.
NHS mental health talking therapies are a confidential service run by fully trained experts and can be accessed by self-referral or through your GP.
And thanks to Sony Music and Apple Corps, who have donated the lyrics and melody of the Beatles classic to the campaign, top names from the UK music industry including Craig David, Girls Aloud’s Nicola Roberts, Tom Grennan, Laura Mvula, Ella Henderson and Max George, will launch the campaign with a speaking rendition of the song – encouraging more people to seek ‘Help!’.
Speaking of her experiences, Nicola Roberts of Girls Aloud praised the impact therapy made on her life.
She said: “I’m someone that has benefited hugely from talking therapy. I think there is such a taboo around it that people almost feel like they’ve failed or they weren’t strong enough to figure out a situation by themselves. But if you’re feeling like you can’t see the wood from the trees or light at the end of the tunnel, it’s imperative to reach out because you can’t always do it alone. It’s about saying this is what is happening to me, it’s not my fault, but my happiness matters and I’m going to put my hand up and say I need some help. I wouldn’t be where I am now without therapy.”
Laura Mvula, added: “Through my own personal experience of when I had therapy on the NHS, it did so much for my emotional well-being just to know that someone was truly caring for me on a regular basis. It helped me see that things are temporary and however bad and permanent your situation feels, reaching out and sharing with someone you can trust is so important. It’s okay to ask for help - everybody needs it.”
The all-star campaign, which will run across radio, social media, and on demand, is also being backed by a number of leading charities including Mind, Royal College of Psychiatrists, and AGE UK.
NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch said: “The pandemic has taken a toll on the nation’s mental health, and we know January can be a particularly tough month for many.
“Over a million people already use NHS talking therapies every year, but we know we can help millions more just by telling them it’s there for them and that is exactly what this campaign is all about.
“If you are experiencing anxiety, stress, or are feeling low, it’s important you know you are not alone and that it is okay to get help. No one should suffer in silence.
“NHS staff have pulled out all the stops throughout the pandemic to keep mental health care services open, and it’s fantastic to see some of the biggest names in music back our campaign and encourage people to get the support they need.”
One of those who has sought treatment in recent years is former police officer Paul, who says, “that it is not an embarrassment to come forward for mental health issues” and urges others to do the same.
Paul, a former police officer and rugby player, has suffered with his mental health since 2009 while serving as a police officer, and was diagnosed with PTSD.
As a six-foot rugby playing detective, he found it very difficult to admit to himself and others and over the next seven years that he needed support and had several breakdowns. In 2016, his poor mental health caused him to retire from the force and finally seek help.
After researching mental health services online, he self-referred himself to the NHS mental health services and undertook cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Of his experiences, Paul said: “When I first sought help through the NHS services, I felt that someone cared immediately. Just those first conversations over the phone, and when I walked in for my first appointment and was met by the receptionists’ ‘smiley eyes’, I felt comfortable and welcomed and that someone was going to listen.
“It is not an embarrassment to admit you have mental health issues. Even if you feel like you’re on your own, there are people out there who care. By contacting the NHS mental health services like I did, you will be given help and the tools to look after yourself. I urge anyone who is feeling low to ask for help”.
Through the NHS Long Term Plan, the NHS is boosting its community mental health services by £2.3 billion a year – improving access to services such as adult talking therapies for millions.
Statistics also show that the NHS is improving access to adult talking therapies, with more than 90% of patients starting treatment within six weeks of making a referral.
To support people with the effects of the pandemic, the NHS is also doing more than ever to deliver faster support – with every area of the country now benefitting from a 24/7 mental health helpline to help people in crisis get urgent care – two years ahead of schedule.
The rollout of local mental health teams in schools has also been accelerated, delivering more support for children and young people than ever before, with around 200 teams now in place for pupils at over 3,000 schools – and NHS services have supported nearly 630,000 children with mental health issues between October 2020 and September 2021.
Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “The pandemic has affected so many of our lives and has led to many more people needing support for their mental health.
“Anyone from any background can experience anxiety and depression and it’s important that people with these symptoms come forward to seek help.
“This campaign is vitally important and will help even more people get the mental health support they need from our fantastic NHS services.”
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s Charity Director, said: “This campaign could not be coming at a better time. The mental health of many older people has taken a real battering during the pandemic and we hope that this new initiative will encourage everyone who could do with some support to reach out and ask for it. ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ as they say - it's good to talk and there's no reason for anyone to feel embarrassed or ashamed because they are feeling very low. We've all been through a lot these last twenty months, many older people more than most."
Minister for Mental Health, Gillian Keegan, said: “The British people have shown great resilience and support for each other over the last two years, but it’s understandable the pandemic might continue to affect our mental wellbeing with people feeling anxious, low or worried – particularly in the winter months.
“It’s vital we look after our mental health and talking therapies provide great support for anybody experiencing anxiety or depression - you can self-refer or be referred through your GP.
“If you need help, I urge you to reach out for support - the NHS is here to help you 24/7.”
- Talking Therapies – also known as IAPT - can be offered in several ways including a self-help workbook with therapist support, as an online course, over the phone, via video-platform, or one-on-one or group therapy.
- Appointments with therapists are conducted in confidence and help is available in-person, by video consultation, telephone, and interactive text.
- More information about where to seek help and how to self-refer for treatment is online here.
- One of the videos for the campaign is viewable here with other campaign materials, including videos, posters, as well as a pictures of the case study Paul and celebrities involved are available online here. Any use of the video and pictures must be credited to NHS England and Improvement.
- A survey commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement carried out by Censuswide of 3,000 people published today (Monday) shows in 2021:
- 51% of adults in experienced stress, 50% anxiety, 46% sleep problems, and 45% low mood or depression.
- 54% of people were concerned about their mental health and 59% of people who had experienced of mental ill health did not seek professional help.
Other stakeholder comments in support of the campaign
Brian Dow, Deputy Chief Executive of Rethink Mental Illness and Chief Executive of Mental Health UK, said: “The pandemic has not only had an acute effect on those already living with severe mental illness but literally millions of people have for the first time experienced sustained bouts of low mood and/or anxiety in the last two years.
“As the New Year continues to challenge us, this important campaign is a timely reminder that psychological treatment is available via the NHS to help people who might not have felt they could access mental health support before. We’d really encourage people to heed the advice of this campaign and reach out for help.”
Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at Mind, said: “The pandemic has taken a huge toll on the mental health and wellbeing of the nation. Whether it’s the loneliness associated with lockdowns and self-isolating, the disruption to schooling, dealing with bereavement or worrying about job security, the last two years have been particularly challenging. Some of us have been more affected than others – with children and young people, those from different racialised communities, and people living in poverty – among those hardest hit. Many people tell us they’re worried about asking for help with their mental health because they don’t think their problems are serious enough to bother the NHS. But the sooner people start treatment for their mental health, the more likely they are to recover. Treatment becomes more intensive and expensive as people become more unwell.
“Talking therapies can be really beneficial for anyone struggling with issues like stress, anxiety and depression. It’s great that they are available for free in England, but waiting times can be long and can vary depending where you live. If you’ve been struggling with your mental health for more than two weeks or your symptoms keep returning, speak to your GP who can talk through the options available, including what you can do while you’re waiting for treatment which might include self-care tips like meditation, breathing techniques and exercise, or medication.”