Hackney charity to offer mental health MOTs for World Mental Health Day
PUBLISHED: 19:39 09 October 2020 | UPDATED: 13:00 13 October 2020
A Hackney mental health charity is inviting residents to “do one thing to protect mental health” in its Problem-Solving Booths this World Mental Health Day.
Mind in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest’s socially distanced booths will be at Narrow Way, Hackney on Saturday, October 10 between 11am and 1pm.
The public area has been chosen as it is a busy shopping parade and a place where there are visible mental health issues in the community.
The charity is working with its partners Find a Balance and Support When It Matters (SWIM) to invite people to come and take an MOT for their mental health.
READ MORE: SWIM workers raise awareness about Covid-19 in Dalston
Estimates suggest mental health issues have doubled in the last few months, with healthcare professionals, younger people and those from BAME communities most likely to be at risk.
Vanessa Morris, chief executive of Mind in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest, told this newspaper: “We thought it was important to do something public to celebrate World Mental Health Day.
“So much over the last few months has been about staying at home and people are more isolated.
“We wanted to do something quite public, but socially distanced, in an area where we know people are struggling.”
The booths allow people to help one another, with two members of the public sitting in a pair of chairs supporting each other, with guided provision to ensure everyone is safe and comfortable.
Vanessa added: “The idea is you don’t have to be an expert. We can all help each other.
“We particularly want to focus on people who might find it harder to talk about or face stigma around mental health issues, such as people from minority ethnic backgrounds.
“We particularly want to put an invitation out for people from African and Caribbean backgrounds to take out an MOT for their mental health.”
Mind conducted a research project with the London School of Economics on peer support a couple of years ago.
Working mainly with people from ethnic minority backgrounds, it found giving help to someone else was the “magic way” to improve mental health.
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Vanessa said: “Having a mental health issue can make you feel powerless and there’s still a stigma.
“Helping other people can help to make sense of your own experience and importantly, feel connected to other people.”
The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is mental health for all.
“We are in exceptional circumstances,” said Vanessa. “Isolation from other people and incredible uncertainty, with no end in sight.
“For some people, a genuine and awful experience of death, grief and mass unemployment.”
One of the biggest risk factors for mental health is employment, and thousands in Hackney and the City have become unemployed.
Vanessa wants Hackney residents to know there are psychological services ready and waiting for people who should not feel like they need to struggle through.
She said: “We are particularly welcoming people accessing psychological therapies.
“People who are thinking, ‘I’ll wait’ - it’s really important that people look after themselves right now.”
Mind in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest work closely with the NHS and other providers to get people to help as quickly and effectively as possible.
Dr Rhiannon England, lead GP for mental health at City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “There are lots of
things you can do to look after yourself if you’re anxious or need some support.
“Have a look at the 5ToThrive website for some simple steps that can have a huge impact on your mental health and wellbeing.
“And if you’re really stressed or struggling to cope, we can help. Just speak to your GP or refer yourself to Talk Changes who can give you help online or on the phone.”
She recommended anyone who is looking for more information should visit various websites.
This includes https://talkchanges.org.uk/ for referrals, Mind in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest at https://www.mindchwf.org.uk/, Irie Mind at https://iriemind.org/, 5ToThrive at https://fivetothrive.net/, Support When It Matters (SWIM) at https://www.swimenterprises.com/, Find a Balance at http://findabalance.org/, or Hackney Council at https://hackney.gov.uk/find-support-services
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