Third Sector Updates: Mental Health Awareness Week

All over Leeds, individuals and organisations are coming together to support one another in these unprecedented times.  Third sector organisations are adapting, collaborating and working harder than ever to ensure communities and vulnerable individuals are supported.

In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, we want to dedicate this blog to organisations that offer mental health support, wellbeing services and promote ideas to maintain a healthy mind. Approximately 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year in the UK; this could include anxiety, depression, personality disorders, psychosis or eating disorders, amongst others. Treatment for mental health issues is varied and depends on the diagnosis and what works for the individual.

During the Coronavirus outbreak, it’s important to make an extra effort to look after your mental health. Let’s face it, being in lockdown can be hard sometimes and it can take its’ toll on your mental health.  Across Leeds, there is a wide range of services that provide mental health support and who do amazing work on a daily basis. Here is a small snapshot of some of those services; their fantastic work cannot be overestimated.

Many support services have done a fantastic job in adapting their projects to be able to continue to be there for people during this time. The Beck project offers wellbeing support for young people aged 4-18 in schools across Leeds. Before Coronavirus, the team would work with young people in their school to talk through a range of issues, from anger to self-esteem and healthy relationships to anxiety and stress. With the closure of schools, the Beck is continuing to support young people through delivering Wellbeing Packs. Those who receive these packs complete the activities inside, as well as receive weekly phone support from the Beck team.

The impact of exercise on your mental health can be huge. Even though you can’t get to the gym, there’s loads of ways to get moving in your living room or out in the fresh air. So many workout classes and exercise sessions are now available online; you can join in on these classes live or replay them afterwards in your own time. You don’t need fancy or expensive equipment to feel the benefits of exercise in the comfort of your own home.

Not only is looking after your body important for your wellbeing, exercising your mind is also a great way to support your mental health. Creative activities can have huge health benefits. The team at People Matters work to enhance the lives of those experiencing disadvantage, and in particular, those who are living with learning disabilities and autism. They have been encouraging their members to get their creative juices flowing during lockdown, with some beautiful results! Getting creative is the perfect way of relaxing your mind.

Your Space Leeds is a community, wellbeing and outreach service supporting residents across south and east Leeds. They usually offer wellbeing groups and creative activities for people to access support, meet new people, build resilience, learn coping skills and be signposted to other services.  With face-to-face contact being so limited, these groups have now moved online. Your Space is now providing community wellbeing Facebook groups, Zoom groups; including Chocolate, Chat and Chill, Journalling and #CreatetoConnect, and is working on online quizzes and bingo events, as well as a WhatsApp Wellbeing course. Make sure to check out these groups and look after your wellbeing!

Whilst it’s so important to be mindful of your own mental health, it’s also vital that we support one another. Thousands of people all over Leeds have been volunteering their time to pick up shopping, prescriptions, walk dogs, deliver emergency food parcels and carry out befriending calls for vulnerable and isolated people. Volunteering can have an amazing impact on your mental wellbeing, not only making you feel good that you’re helping others, but also making the people you are helping to feel supported and connected, when they may be isolating at home. You don’t need to be a formal volunteer to help others though; it can be as simple as asking your neighbours if they need anything from the shops or offering to take their bins out. Simple acts of kindness go a long way.

The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is Kindness. This means being kind to your mind, your body, to others and to the world. Mindwell have put together a week of kindness planner with some tips on how you can be kinder.

If you’re looking for advice around mental health, you can visit Mindwell; a website specifically designed for the people of Leeds to access support. Mindwell provides simple, accessible and up-to-date information and a place where you can explore advice if you’re struggling yourself, if you’re worried about someone else or if you’re a professional supporting others. There’s also a version of the website for under 18’s called Mindmate.

Stay safe, stay well, and be kind to yourself and others.

Post Written by Rebecca Mott

Project Worker at Voluntary Action Leeds

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