How we’ve been supporting people during the pandemic
We set up our ‘Supporting Minds’ programme in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 lockdown. We had to suspend our face-to-face support and brought our services together as one team, whilst also changing to new ways of working to provide remote mental health support for people during this challenging time.
The response to our online offering has been extremely positive, and both Mind staff and people using the service have had to adapt to this new way of working.
We want to highlight some of the new ways in which we have been delivering our services, and how the activities have had a positive effect on those who attend.
Nature in the City
Nature in the City is an opportunity to access the great outside whilst staying inside. Participants join our horticulture tutors, Deena and Emma, to explore green spaces and share in the wonder of nature. The group looks at the remarkable complexity of the natural world and how each element performs a critical role in the overall sophistication of our landscapes.
As lockdown prevents us from being outdoors, Deena and Emma share a combination of video clips and discussion forums encompassing various nature-based systems and engagements. These interactive sessions allow participants to walk and talk in various urban landscapes, whether along a tow path, in nature reserves and parks, woodlands and heaths. They are introduced to plants of all sizes and shapes, insects, birds, and animals.
Deena explained, “Whilst coronavirus has prevented us from the physical activity of gardening, it has opened up an opportunity to explore a wide range of nature-based subject matter. From the appreciation of the oldest plant form on Earth, cyanobacteria whose fossil remains date back to 4,500 million years ago, to the understanding of how flight works and the symbiotic relationship between fungi and the rest of life – we are no longer constrained by a rigid teaching schedule. So, we can celebrate the natural rhythms of life from our own homes, and while our physical being may experience restrictions, our minds can expand in awe and wonder.”
Play for Today
The Play for Today group is a chance for people to come together in a relaxed environment and have some fun. Each session of our play-reading group is based around a short play; everything from murder mysteries to the traditional Panto. The group explores voice, character and connection using simple exercises, before reading the play together.
Emma, who runs the group, said, “Play for today is based on a short script. We have read Shakespeare, Agatha Christie and Mary Shelley. Participants enjoy creating sound effects and witty voices to match their characters. One participant said it is the highlight of the week! Reading Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream was a wonderful experience. As participants read, the rhythm of the words brought the story to life. Whilst we all stumbled over a couple of lines, the magic was not lost. The group is supportive of each other and welcoming to readers of all levels.”
Arts and Culture
This social peer support group helps participants to expand their minds and explore museums and art galleries from the comfort of their own home. Each week, the group virtually visits museums and art galleries and then has an open discussion on what they’ve seen.
Photography exhibitions and themes have included Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020, World Photography Day, Space and Night Sky Photography, Travel Photography, and British Photography Awards.
Art themes have included famous self-portraits, portraits of London, indigenous Aboriginal Australian art, as well as the works of a broad range of artists, including Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Kahlo, Rembrandt, and lots more.
Museums and galleries visited include the Guggenheim (Bilbao), Louvre (Paris), Dali (Spain & USA), National Gallery (London), National Gallery of Victoria (Australia), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), and Getty Museum (Los Angeles).
Group organiser, Stuart, said, “Our members have really enjoyed being able to ‘virtually’ visit museums and galleries anywhere in the world and to be able to discuss their observations and opinions of the works of art as we view them together online.
The online sessions have had a very positive response. Some people really like the online option due to the ease of attending (as opposed to having to go somewhere) and easier to cope with in terms of social anxiety. The groups have provided an opportunity to connect and engage with others during these times, especially if staying indoors mostly due to lockdown. Some have also said that they very much look forward to Thursdays and Fridays for the arts and quiz groups as they enjoy the activities, the group vibe, and attend each week as they don’t want to miss them.”
Upcycling is the practice of reinventing unwanted materials and transforming them into useful products. When you upcycle, you have the personal benefit of knowing that you are taking steps to promote a healthier environment. Upcycling is also a very creative process.
Through a series of interactive online activity sessions, participants can create their own upcycling project. We also provide them with a list of required materials that can be found around the home and a step-by-step guide to support activity sessions.
We also run several weekly Peer Support groups. These meetings are a great way of giving and gaining support from people who understand what it can be like to struggle with a mental health problem. The groups are being run virtually during this time, with everyone meeting via a group video call.
One member recently told us how much they appreciate the group: “I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy the Zoom meetings. They really are a lifesaver as they give me a reason to get up. The Mental Health Support Group helps me learn new ways of trying to cope with these very scary times.”
Find out more about our Supporting Minds programme here.
Author: Stewart Gillespie
Posted on: 10th December 2020