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Celebrating London Great Mental Health Day

At the London Violence Reduction Programme, we recognise that engaging the power of communities is a critical part of the work we do.

For too long services have offered niche solutions without fully understanding the real determinants of poor mental health or violence risk. Communities have been blamed, stigmatised, and disempowered instead of being invited to use their knowledge and understanding to shape solutions to the challenges those affected by violence navigate on a daily basis.

As mental health service providers and institutions, we now need to be humble and listen to communities, who already possess the wisdom about what needs to change in a manner that empowers rather than diminishes.

We should do our utmost to support our young people to shape their own destinies by becoming leaders themselves, not just in spaces where decisions are made about what should be done but beyond that, to imagine what could be done.

Listening and being heard can be the beginning of healing for both communities and institutions, who need to acknowledge that the assumptions that drove the errors of the past lie with all, and that recognising and forgiving those misconceptions is a critical step in forging a better future.

We are part of the communities we serve, and by working together we have a real opportunity to really learn and understand the drivers of violence risk and find solutions that can make a difference in the long-term.

Our role is to help create a framework for communities to come together, engaging the curiosity and kindness that exist, from a position of being supported and empowered to make the changes we all want to see. This way we may be able to move away from a stigmatising culture to focus on being well and staying well for our young people and communities.

Martin P Griffiths CBE DL, Clinical Director London Violence Reduction Programme, Consultant Trauma Surgeon Barts Health NHS Trust

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