October 6, 2020
World Mental Health Day
It’s World Mental Health Day
It’s World Mental Health Day (10th October) and this year the theme is, ‘mental health for all’. At PSS, we’re super proud to provide lots of different services to support positive mental health and wellbeing for people from many different walks of life. This can be specialist mental health support in areas like domestic abuse, parental imprisonment or substance misuse in the family or support with anxiety, depression, grief and any mental health challenges.
We’re also big on wellbeing for our staff and volunteers. Our people give a lot and need looking after too. During recent times, ‘mental health for all’, has never felt so relevant as lots of us have faced heightened pressures as a result of the pandemic.
Today we’re giving you just a glimpse of the mental health support we provide to people, whatever life throws at them and how we might be able to support you too.
Group mental health support in Liverpool
Our Wellbeing Centres in Liverpool support people with various mental health challenges. The specialist team offer lots of group activities and sessions that fit around people and their individual needs and support them to gain new confidence and meet new friends in the process. Lots of these sessions moved online based on social-distancing guidelines but people have responded really well to this new digital way of doing things – saying a big virtual ‘hello’ to the friends they’ve made at the service.
This film created by the Liverpool Mental Health Consortium and Iron Lung Film Company looks at some of the amazing, much needed work offered by lots of mental health organisations across Merseyside. It includes a look at some of the most popular offers from our Wellbeing Centre team – Dutch Barn in Garston and our Strumbrellas ukulele group. Meet some of the guys we support from 7 minutes, 35 seconds in.
Dutch Barn, often fondly nicknamed the ‘barn of calm’, provides a tranquil hub set on an urban allotment space for sessions to take place. People love coming down and being at one with nature, getting a welcome break from the pressures of daily life and feeling serene within the green.
Our Strumbrellas are an awesome ukulele group who channel their emotions into music and sing to their hearts content. We’re so proud of the confidence they’ve gained from mastering their musical skills and performing at various community concerts and events through the years.
Digital mental health support for everyone
Jean* is 64 and uses our Wellbeing Centres. Jean has lots of physical health issues that she manages on a daily basis and struggles with her mobility. This can really impact her mental health and wellbeing. She also carries the weight of emotional and physical abuse that she faced at the hands of her mother from a young age. Jean has a turbulent relationship with her family but a supportive husband who is there for her. When lockdown restrictions eased, Jean was relieved to be able to visit the local pub for a drink with her husband but, based on the recent spike in cases, Jean no longer feels comfortable doing this. She also worries about people not understanding that she is mask-exempt because of her anxiety. She really urges people to recognise the legitimate reason why some people can’t wear a mask. ‘I have faced abuse because I am not wearing a mask and this is just not fair, I should have the same rights as everyone else’, she says.
Before the pandemic, Jean enjoyed coming to our Wellbeing Centres in Liverpool, meeting other people like her and channeling her challenges into a positive outlet. ‘We don’t need to talk about our illness, we just know that there are others around us who understand.’ Since lockdown was introduced Jean has really surprised herself by adapting to remote and online support and got a lot more digital. Our specialist teams have been providing online support and Zoom sessions. She’s got creative and has been writing poetry and reading this in online groups and she’s made even more friends through the sessions.
Our services and people have adapted so well to a remote way of interacting and, off the back of this success and new ways of working, we built www.UpbeatLiverpool.com in collaboration with Liverpool City Council. It’s a mental health resource that’s open to anyone and shares some of the same sessions and resources that Jean has found so useful to her positive mental health journey during lockdown. This really is a mental health tool for all. Jean recommends it to anyone facing heightened mental health pressures.
Full-time mental health support from a Shared Lives carer
Jenny is 37 and lives in Liverpool. She’s a bright and bubbly person who loves socialising and making new friends. Jenny has a learning disability and some mental health needs and grew up in foster care as a child. As an adult she didn’t feel ready to live independently so moved in with a Shared Lives carer who was able to support her to do the things in life she wanted to do. Her carer was always there for her when she was struggling with her mental health, she supported her to gain confidence and independence and to stay in touch with the people who were important to her including her mum.
In September 2019 Jenny’s mum sadly passed away. At this point Jenny’s mental health dipped and she felt unable to manage her emotions; the feeling of loss and grief was such a heavy weight on her. Jenny’s medication was increased as a result and she would call her Shared Lives development worker Janice every single day, tearful and lost.
Janice talked to Jenny about ways that she could feel happier and more mentally well and they discussed the idea of her joining the Shared Lives choir where she could meet other people supported by Shared Lives at our head office (before social-distancing restrictions). Jenny came along and singing got lots of positive endorphins flowing for her, she finally got a smile back on her face. And, best of all, she met Hilary who really struck a chord with her. Hilary is also supported by a Shared Lives carer and they had lots in common. They developed a very close friendship and supported each other through their shared experiences. Just before Christmas 2019 Jenny asked if it might be possible for her to move in with Hilary’s carer, she wanted to live with her best friend; the team made this happen. Now Jenny is happier than ever living with Hilary and their carers, Jacqui and Kevin. They love spending time together as a family and recently enjoyed a trip to Blackpool together. Jenny says that she wouldn’t be where she is without the support of Jacqui and Kevin. ‘They notice things about me that she I have never noticed and make my life better’, she says.
As a Shared Lives carer, you could support someone with mental health challenges and make their life better too, visit: SharedLivesCarers.com.
Specialist domestic abuse support from Ruby @ Turnaround
Mary* moved to the UK to be with the man who later became her abuser. Mary’s abuser would kick her out on the streets, leaving her helpless and then welcome her back into safety when she was at her lowest. This meant she constantly had the confusing experience of her abuser also being her saviour. Mary’s mental health was impacted and she questioned her own sanity as a result of this abuse. She got to the point of feeing that she didn’t want to get up in the morning and wasn’t sure if she even wanted to live anymore. Through counselling with our Ruby @ Turnaround service, Mary was supported to recognise the ways that her abuser would manipulate her emotions and ‘gaslight’ her. Today she’s moving on with her life with her child and feeling more mentally well.
Are you living in Merseyside and experiencing domestic abuse?
You can contact our Ruby @ Turnaround team on 0800 688 9990. Monday to Friday: 9.00am- 10.00pm and Saturday and Sunday 11.00am – 5.00pm.
Or by texting ‘Ruby’ to 60777
Mental health support for children with a parent in prison
The PSS Prisoners’ Families team are there to give support and advice to children when a close family member is in prison. A family worker from PSS will work with the child to help them to understand what is happening and feel happier.
This often includes support with their mental health and wellbeing which can be impacted as a result of these experiences. We’ve also worked with children to create a book all about managing everything you’re going through when a parent or family member goes into prison. The new ‘Don’t Worry’ book (in production) goes through every stage of this experience; from finding out, to visiting prison, to how it might affect you in school and how to feel if and when your parent comes out prison. All of these sections look at the emotions people may be feeling and how to manage these.
Like, Zainen* who’s eight years old and, after his mum came out of prison, didn’t like going to school and worried she might be taken away again whilst he was out. Zainen was very anxious after his past experiences but worked with his family worker to explore these emotions and rationalise them so that he could feel happier at school and more mentally well.
If you live in Merseyside and have a parent or close family member in prison you can get support from our Prisoners’ Families team. Talk to your parent, the person who cares for you, your teacher, social worker or anyone you trust about this. They can then contact the Prisoners’ Families team for you on: 0151 706 6701. Or, if you feel able to, you can contact the team yourself.