An image of a Brain with flowers and trees covering it

Great Mental Health Day

Published: 17 January 2024
Filed under: Health and wellbeing

Great Mental Health Day is on Friday 26 January 2024. This year’s theme is focused on meaningful connections and highlighting the power of relationships, and social networking for your wellbeing.

Studies show that connecting with people and having strong, supportive relationships, whether with your family or wider community, is one of the best ways to achieve happiness and mental wellbeing.

This Great Mental Health Day, why not take the first step into building connections and developing a relationship with others? Check out some inspiration, tips and resources to help you. 

Reach out to others

This might sound obvious, but sometimes our daily lives are so busy that it can be difficult to make time to reach out to others and keep connected especially for those who work from home or are on a career break. 

Asking a friend or colleague how they are, spending some time calling or visiting a loved one, sending out a quick text to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, or committing to attending a community event or a festival in the upcoming days are all easy steps you can take.

This can not only help you foster connections or make new ones, but you could also be a positive connection for someone you didn’t even know needed it.

Starting small

Going out and creating new connections can feel a bit daunting. While having close friends is undoubtedly important, research also shows that building networks of casual acquaintances and building "weak ties" can boost happiness, knowledge and a sense of belonging. Some chit-chat with your regular barista, taking part in a yoga course, saying hi to a neighbour, or a curt-nod and a smile to your fellow commuters, can all be ways to build ‘weak ties’ and boost your mental health.

Five Ways to Wellbeing

Five Ways to Wellbeing are five actions you can take in your everyday life that have been proven by research to support good mental wellbeing and happiness. Our Five Ways to Wellbeing directory has plenty of suggestions, such as taking part in a wellbeing walk, joining a course to learn new things or signing up for volunteering. And these can all be great ways to meet new people and connect with others.

Local offers, activities and events

In Waltham Forest there are plenty of places, events and activities that can help you meet new people who have similar interests to you, and they can also offer opportunities to do something with your friends and loved ones.

  • Have you visited one of our libraries lately? You can borrow books, of course, but you could also take part in a film club, get one-to-one support on digital issues and devices, attend an English conversation club and even join a reading group.
  • If you’re a parent, why not join your local Family Hub? They offer plenty of activities and support for children and their families, including play-and-learn activities, Flourish sessions supporting new mums’ mental wellbeing or specific activities for dads to spend time with their children and meet other fathers and father figures in the borough.
  • Our Welcome Hub hosts a range of activities, advice and support for people who are new to Waltham Forest and the UK, including migrants, refugees and people seeking asylum.
  • Want to learn something new or want to update a skill? Check out the Waltham Forest Adult Learning Service, offering plenty of courses to help you upskill, get a professional qualification and even find a new job. A great way to meet new people with similar interests while you learn together.
  • There is a rich programme of cultural, arts and exhibitions happening at the lovely William Morris Gallery including Radical Landscapes events which are a series of wellbeing events in the beautiful green spaces of Waltham Forest. 

If you’re looking for more, from music festivals and garden parties to events for children, families and adults, there are events, music, art, and culture in Waltham Forest for everyone to be part of.

Community and Interest Groups

Being part of an interest group or community that does things you enjoy such as walking, cycling, baking, knitting, climbing or even soap-making, can be a way for you to socialise and make great connections with people who do and enjoy the things you do. 

Whatever your interest, you can search for a local group one by:

  • Joining a local Facebook group and asking if anyone knows about relevant interest groups.
  • Heading to your local library, cafe or supermarket and leafing through the noticeboard.
  • Use a global meeting platform like MeetUp or Eventbrite to find nearby activities

Volunteering in Waltham Forest

Volunteering is a powerful way to make an impact in something you are passionate about and make a difference to residents, while also meeting like-minded people, making meaningful connections and developing your skills and career.

  • Community Health champions help residents stay healthier, more connected, and active. They help us tackle inequalities in the Borough, by having open conversations about health and wellbeing with our residents, organising and supporting community activities and signposting residents to the health & wellbeing support that they need.
  • Our Digital Champions provide friendly face-to-face digital support to our residents at our library drop-in sessions. There is no need to be a digital wizard. The most important qualities for being a digital champion are patience, and the desire to support fellow residents to overcome the barriers and improve their confidence and their basic technology skills. 

Mental Wellbeing Events this Month and Next

Time to talk day

Connect and talk about mental health over a cuppa 

  • When: Thursday 1 February 
  • Time:  12pm to 2pm 
  • Where: The Snug, 4 Greenleaf Road, Walthamstow, E17 6QQ
  • Book your space through Eventbrite

Empower Our Mums

A group for single mums to connect with other mums and talk about strengthening their bonds with their children.

  • When: 11 February 2024 and every 2nd Sunday of the month
  • Time: 1pm to 3pm
  • Where: Outset Centre, Grange Road. E17
  • Contact:

Do you look after a family member, partner or friend?

Do you care for someone who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without support? Many carers don’t see themselves as such, but their physical and mental health can suffer as a result.  

Research shows that carers are more likely to have poor mental health due to the strain from their caring role. If that sounds like you, remember you’re not alone and there is support available.

Being part of a community with people with similar life experiences as you is a great way of connecting and building supportive relationships and looking after your mental health.

  • Carers First provide services for unpaid carers on behalf of Waltham Forest Council including group and one to one practical and emotional support, information, guidance and training to carers, including financial support and other benefits you may be entitled to. 
  • Waltham Forest Young Carers Programme for carers under 18 can give you access to activities and opportunities, to provide you with respite from your caring role and responsibilities, and help you meet other people with a similar experience as you. 

Reaching out to a professional

Sometimes it’s important to speak to a professional who can help us understand how to make and foster those connections. If you feel like you need to speak to a trained professional, options are available.

Adult Early Help Service 

If you’re experiencing situations that can affect your health and wellbeing (such as bereavement, break up, or loss of connections) causing you low mood, anxiety, and other mental health issues, our Adult Early Help Service can support you to get your life back on track. You’ll be allocated one of our professional link workers who can support you from an early stage to prevent things from getting worse. 

Counselling and Talking Therapies

Residents over 11 years old can get access to one-to-one support as well as wellbeing groups. Talking therapies and counselling support range from general mental health to specialist support, such as parenting-specific groups, young people sessions, or counselling for those who are experiencing a bereavement.