Mental Health Seminar

12th March 2022 Mental Health Seminar

Opening words from the Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro Jonathan Charles Whitaker.

Ladies, gentlemen, and brethren, it gives me great pleasure firstly to welcome you all here today and secondly to have the opportunity to introduce this seminar to you. I’m also proud to be able to thank the Trustees of our own Provincial Charity, the Masonic Charitable Trust, under the Chairmanship of W. Bro. Noel Voice, for sponsoring this event. As well as this event today, our MCT is also providing financial support for other activities designed to help in this field, namely our Bournemouth Holiday and Family break schemes.

I’d also like to welcome and thank those who have come along as representatives of support communities offering services on today’s topic,

  • Kath Betts from our National Charity, the MCF, a lady who works tirelessly for the members and families in our Province.
  • From SSAFA, Keith Gregory, a trained Mental Health First Aider and Adrian Smith, the local coordinator
  • Louise Fagan, from Hampshire County Council, showcasing their web-based services at Connecttosuporthampshire – with access to multiple support services and links to other unitary authorities, also accessible through our own Welfare pages, and two support organisations,
  • Andy Bishop from Mangang – a qualified Mental Health First Aid trainer, providing a local support organisation for men and finally,

Let’s set outline some general headline figures, based upon adults living in England from the Mental health organisation, Mind, and why we are here today:

  • 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England.

Let’s put that into context for the Province of HIoW membership:

  • 8,500 members, or rather 30,000 when considering members, their families, and dependents.
  • Which means 7,500 experiencing some form of mental health problem each year,
  • And to add to that problem reports from England & Wales suggest that only 1 in 8 adults with a mental health problem are getting any kind of treatment.

These figures have been exacerbated over the past 2 years by the impacts of Covid and the enforced isolation and therefore potential loneliness of individuals.  Also, considerable stress through loss of employment/earnings, for many members and their families, significant potential causes of mental health issues. As a result:

  • Our Provincial Charity made emergency grants totalling £65k between 2020 and 2021 supporting members who had lost jobs, or reduced income, because of COVID – a major contributor to stress related problems. The MCF support was also excellent and provided longer term financial and Counselling support to the sum of £4.7m
  • On a national scale, I am informed by our PGA that our MCF, Counselling Care Line has been actively used by several our members and our wider membership community. I would just like to stress here that this is a totally confidential service between the applicant and the allocated professional Counsellor.
  • Our Lodges/Chapters have been unable to meet, but are now starting to come back
  • Our 11 Amity clubs have also been unable to meet, but are now returning
  • We have a considerable number of ex servicemen within our organisation and issues such as PTSD are not uncommon. Our work, jointly with SSAFA, goes wider than just the local community here in HIoW. We have current shared cases with SSAFA in France, where we are supporting widows of ex-servicemen and freemasons.
  • In June of this year, the Province intends to sign the Armed Forces Covenant reinforcing the working relationship between our organisations.
  • But not let’s forget the non-military emergency services, such as Fire workers Police and the Ambulance service. We have such members from these communities who are suffering in similar ways.

Whilst today is geared towards Adult Mental Health, the MCF is currently also researching what offerings they may be able to provide to support Child Mental Health.

There can be little doubt that the subject of Mental Health is uppermost in the thinking of many organisations, at a time of great need and when the financial support for such endeavours is so restricted.

Hence, today, our small effort to raise awareness amongst our own community and perhaps to lay some sort of foundation for some potential future activities.

Thank you.