There’s never been a more important time to talk about mental health.
Not only has the Covid-19 pandemic led to people mourning loved ones all across the world, but there's been another less visible impact too.
Around one in five adults in Britain experienced some form of depression in the first three months of this year, more than double the figure before the virus hit.
I know that the rapid emergence of the Omicron variant, and the measures we've had to put in place to slow its spread, have been unsettling for people.
As we adapt to this next phase, it's really important that we talk openly about our mental health, and look out for one another.
The Daily Express By Your Side campaign has done brilliant work to raise awareness of this issue.
It's been encouraging to see more conversations taking place about mental health during this pandemic, and this campaign will help so many people.
During this festive period, it's really important that people come forward and take advantage of the help that's on offer.
There are so many resources out there that can help, like Every Mind Matters, which provides tailored advice to help you manage your mental wellbeing.
One of my priorities is breaking down the stigmas that are too often associated with mental health and to expand the support we're offering across the country.
I'm currently overseeing the broadest expansion and transformation of mental health services anywhere in the world.
We're investing £2.3billion to grow our services and reform legislation to put patient choice at the heart of mental health care.
We are also tackling the impact of the pandemic on mental health.
This year we invested £500million in our mental health recovery action plan to support the worst-affected groups, we have given over £10million to mental health charities to ensure their vital services can continue, and we have stood up additional 24/7 crisis lines in all NHS trusts in England to make sure everyone can access help at any time.
But there's always more to do, and so we'll be publishing a long-term Mental Health Strategy looking at what action we can take to help everyone to live healthier, happier lives.
We will be opening a consultation in the new year, calling on the public, charities, businesses and the mental health sector to share their views and help shape the strategy.
It's so important to me that mental health and physical health are treated with the same urgency.
While it is vital we all get boosted to protect our bodies, it's equally important we look after our minds. For anyone who is struggling, my message is clear - it's OK not to be OK. Please reach out, help is here.
You can read the full article in The Express online.