The NHS has launched a new national campaign using the iconic Beatles song ‘Help!” to encourage people struggling with their mental health to seek support. Staff from Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), which provides specialist mental health services across the region, are supporting the campaign and encouraging anybody experiencing anxiety, depression, or other common mental health concerns to come forward and see how talking therapies can help them.
‘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.
Through my own personal experience of when I had therapy on the NHS, it did so much for my emotional well-being.Laura MvulaSinger-songwriter
Since the start of the pandemic some 2.3 million people have come forward for NHS talking therapies. New figures show that over 50% of people were concerned about their mental health last year, and around half were also experiencing stress, anxiety, low mood, or depression. But the majority of these people are not seeking professional help – and many could benefit from talking therapies on the NHS.
NHS mental health talking therapies are a confidential service run by fully trained experts. People can refer themselves for support directly, or go via their 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, launched the campaign with a speaking rendition of the song – encouraging more people to seek ‘Help!’.
Singer-songwriter Laura Mvula has praised the impact NHS therapy had on her life: “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.”
I’ve had points in my life where I struggled with my mental health, but what was so important for me was opening up and starting to talk about how I was feeling.Craig DavidSinger-songwriter
Craig David added: “I’ve had points in my life where I struggled with my mental health, but what was so important for me was opening up and starting to talk about how I was feeling. I now know that real courage and strength isn’t in trying to do it alone, but instead being able to share our feelings in a safe space with people who can help”.
One of those who has sought treatment is Kath*, who referred herself to the Sunderland Psychological Wellbeing Service, led by CNTW, for help last year.
Kath had struggled for some time with anxiety, and a family bereavement brought things to a head. “I went to the Sunderland Psychological Wellbeing Service and just said, ‘I need some help – I don’t know what help I need, but I need something.’
“To anyone who feels like I did before starting this journey, I’d say – you absolutely do deserve the help. Our brains can be our worst enemies a lot of the time, and tell us lies about ourselves. But needing to reach out and get support if you are having a tough time is nothing to be ashamed of.
“I’m actually living my life properly now – I’m well, for probably the first time in 30+ years.” You can read more of Kath’s story here.
Richard Thwaites, Lead Consultant Clinical Psychologist at First Step, the NHS talking therapies service for North Cumbria run by CNTW, said: “It’s normal to feel low at the moment; the pandemic has affected so many of our lives and has led to many more people needing support for their mental health.
“Over a million people already use NHS talking therapies every year, but many more people still don’t know that we are here to support them, and that is exactly what this campaign is all about.
“If you are experiencing problems with anxiety such as chronic worry, panic attacks, obsessions, or are stuck feeling low, it’s important you know you are not alone and that it is okay to ask for 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 this campaign and encourage people to get the support they need.”
If you want to refer yourself to for support, please visit nhs.uk/help for more information, or talk to your GP.
*Name changed to protect anonymity