We need World Mental Health Day more than ever this year. According to the charity Mind, 1 in 5 adults with no previous mental health problems say that they are suffering now.
In Croydon, overcrowded accommodation and poverty leaves many residents particularly vulnerable.
Although it’s good we’re talking about it this weekend, the lockdown can make it difficult to know what we can actually do to look after each other. None of us feel particularly empowered simply retweeting something with a hashtag on the day.
Luckily, here in Croydon we are blessed with an active community with loads going on.
Here are 10 ideas to get you inspired:
1, Take up free mental health training. Croydon Covid-19 Mutual Aid has teamed up with Croydon Council and other community groups to offer 1,000 fully funded places to any resident who wants training in “Mental Health First Aid”. It is run by MHFA England, fully accredited and runs online over four days. Simply email MHFA@croydon.gov.uk and ask for an application form.
2, Volunteer. Croydon Voluntary Association has compiled a great list of mental health charities and organisations doing great work across our borough. Take your pick!
You can also donate on the Charities Aid Foundation website, which lists more than a thousand groups in Croydon. Among them are Mind in Croydon, who are particularly seeking donations after having missed out on their fund-raising activities which had to be cancelled because of covid-19, and Off the Record youth counselling.
4, Start your own campaign. Croydon Voluntary Association supports residents to establish campaigns that matter to them. In one moving project from New Addington, a man suffering from cancer set up “Tea and Talk” to help support men with mental health problems continue to maintain family life. Although it was set up before covid, it now runs virtually and offers support for anyone through the pandemic.
5, Take the Employer Pledge. Introduce your workplace to this great campaign that provides an action plan for employers to help change how your workplace thinks and acts about mental health.
6, Speak out about your experience. It can take huge courage to open up about any personal experiences we’ve had with our mental health. There is still stigma to overcome, particularly if you come from a particular community that’s not used to talking about it or you have an image that doesn’t “sit well” with mental health issues. One of the most moving videos I’ve seen showing this courage is from Sonya. You can do the same.
7, Join a community conversation. There are loads that you can join, and not necessarily because you’re suffering. The hospice organisation St Christopher’s is running some amazing conversations on loss and bereavement.
8, Educate yourself. This doesn’t mean you have to sit alone with an academic text. The Mayor of London is running a festival this weekend with loads of energetic and insightful activities that you can sign up for here.
9, Walk a Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes. This campaign, run by Shawmind, started this week and encourages people to do gentle exercise for a month while raising funds and awareness around suicide, mental health and wellbeing.
10, Phone a friend. Most of us know someone who is more isolated than most at the moment. That personal relationship is invaluable. We know we should give them a call. So let’s do it.
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