Well, there goes summer. 

After a promising start and a glorious June, the summer holiday period has been....variable, shall we say. We have had rain galore (useful for our garden projects) and sunny spells and someone in the office did say that they had (wait for it.....).....put the heating on at one point. IN AUGUST!

Despite the challenges, there has still been loads happening; new services, lots of engagement and community events and it seems that every day brings a new story about mental health services. We've heard about the Prime Minister thinking that mental health services are 'patchy', that Universities support for students with mental health needs varies widely and that for young people especially, online therapy can be as effective as face to face (although we think that more research is needed into this - whilst helpful as an option, a qualified and experienced therapist shouldn't be replaced with online apps).

The level of discussion, news and conversation about mental health is both encouraging and a bit worrying - the fact that it is so much in the news is brilliant and hopefully means that some of the stigma and discrimination that still exists around mental health is slowly but surely being stopped. The worry comes when you read some of the stories - long waiting lists, difficulty in getting support, higher levels of anxiety and depression in young people - we are talking about it more, but are things changing for the better in terms of what is out there?

Our CEO, Caroline Holman and Eamon from our Bedford group visited parliament to discuss these issues, talking with MP's and other local Mind groups. We hope that this will help ensure that the discussions continue and we keep improving services, funding and the help that people need, when they need it. 

The summer has also brought lots of events and activities with young people, especially those involved with the National Citizenship Service (NCS). With groups across our patch holding events, getting involved in things and raising money, they have been brilliant. From basketball events in Bedford to gardening in Luton, the various NCS Teams have been busy doing loads. And feedback has been great - 'I didn't realise how stress relieving gardening could be' was one comment. This shows the value of young people having a range of options in terms of managing their wellbeing, linking in with the Youth in Mind project. 

We have also seen the start of our new Peer Support service across Bedfordshire, the Digital Inclusion project continues to help people get online safely,the Wellbeing for Later Life conference happened and the Gullivers Fun Run resulted in Chris, one of our Peer Support Workers, running round Milton Keynes dressed as Batman. 

There really aren't ever two days the same round here!

And things don't really slow down. Today is World Mental Health Day, where the theme is depression. We know that huge numbers of people experience depression at some point in their life and having the right support at the right time can make a huge difference. There are LOADS of events happening around the area, from Laughter Yoga in Bedford to an evening of entertainment in MK and events across Luton. It is fantastic to see so much focus and discussion about mental health and wellbeing but it is important to remember that it's not just about today. People with mental health difficulties manage them every day. And reaching out, saying 'how are you', making people know that you are there when they need you is something that isn't just 10th October, but all year round. 

Many thanks to everyone who has been involved in our summer events and activities - keep watching for what come next (because there is always something new happening).