Our Chief Executive, Wendy, has written a blog to reflect on what the organisation has achieved over its 40 years.

As we head into Winter, I have been thinking back to our Summer of celebrations as Health in Mind turned 40 in July.

We came together virtually and in person to celebrate what a special organisation Health in Mind is.

I am honoured to be the fifth Chief Executive since we were founded 40 years ago. I have worked in Health in Mind for over 20 years, and each day I feel motivated and energised by the people we support, our staff and volunteer team, our partners, and the communities in which we work.

In the lead-up to our 40th birthday, we experienced challenges like never before as we lived and worked throughout the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Health in Mind was able to provide remote support within days of the Scottish Government’s guidance to stay home and quickly access funding to support people to get online, overcoming the significant digital exclusion many people we support were experiencing.

During the pandemic, demand for our services had never been higher, and staff and volunteers continued to support people as they experienced uncertainty and loss in their own lives. 

We launched our current strategy in April 2020. Little did we know then that most of our strategy would be delivered while living with covid. 

Our strategy is our road map, but our values are the lifeblood of Health in Mind. Our values of compassion, integrity, respect, inclusion and realising potential are demonstrated daily throughout Health in Mind. They have been evident in our celebrations as community members shared their experiences working with Health in Mind.

As well as our values, it’s clear that several golden threads have run through Health in Mind over the last forty years.

The first thread is inclusion. We have a tradition of working hard to identify and overcome barriers to accessing mental health and wellbeing support.

Over the last 40 years, we have developed services to ensure that mental health support is accessible to everyone within our communities. For example, one of the first services we developed provided safe spaces to support women’s mental health and wellbeing. Another was mental health support for people from black and minority ethnic communities. These services remain as relevant today as they did when they were first established.

One of our biggest achievements over the last few years has been working with partners across Edinburgh City to design and implement Thrive Welcome Teams, which offer multidisciplinary support for people in Edinburgh – bringing to life the idea that there is no wrong door when seeking mental health support.

The second thread is supporting people who have experienced trauma. In the early 2000s, following our research study, Beyond Trauma, we developed counselling and support services for people who had experienced childhood sexual abuse.

Our expertise was recognised in 2016 when we became a partner in the In Care Survivors Alliance, supporting people who were abused or neglected in care in Scotland. This was the first Alliance in Scotland. We, with our partners Penumbra, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Psychological Service The Anchor, and the Scottish Government, have learned and shared a lot about supporting survivors of in-care abuse.

We share learning about supporting people who have experienced trauma through our trauma training program, which is delivered nationally throughout Scotland, and recently, we have even delivered training internationally.

The third thread running through Health in Mind is peer support and lived experience. Lived experience is at the heart of and runs through our organisation now, as it did when the organisation was founded. Ensuring that we fully involve and work alongside people with lived experience gives us the courage to take the right path even when it’s not the easy path.

The fourth and final thread is our focus on our people. As a team and an organisation, we hold people’s mental health at heart. A very important group of people within the organisation are our volunteers.

Each year we involve around 150 people as volunteers. Volunteers support us throughout our organisation – in fundraising, our support services, administration, and on our Board. Volunteers bring skills, knowledge, and diversity that can not be matched by our staff team alone.

That’s what makes Health in Mind such a fantastic organisation- our people. And it’s our people – people who trust us to support them with their mental health and wellbeing, our staff, volunteers, communities, partners, and funders- who will shape and drive our organisation as we enter a new era for Health in Mind through the development of our new strategy.

We hope to be able to share more about that in the Spring of 2023.

As Health in Mind says hello to 40, there is much to celebrate, but there is also much left to do.