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Raising awareness of mental health and the services that we provide to our community is important. Here you’ll find our latest media coverage.

17th December 2021

Mental health and Covid at Christmas: what you can do to help

By Beth Gavaghan  @beth_gavs Reporter

Being there for your loved ones: Image sourced from Unsplash

Being there for your loved ones: Image sourced from Unsplash 1 comment

The effects of Covid-19 have been enormous on the way people live their everyday lives, and the concerns that have come with the latest variant; Omicron is the Christmas gift no one asked for. And it has put even more pressure on people as they plan their Christmas get-togethers.

Official statistics from gov.uk shows that mental health has deteriorated for lots of people since the start of Covid restrictions, but Christmas itself can be a challenging time for many, even without the pandemic according to Wiltshire Mind.

Community fundraiser at Wiltshire Minds Laura Oatley said: “Christmas can mean different things to different people and their experience may change each year.

“For many of us, Christmas can trigger feelings such as loneliness, stress or worry about money, and often someone may experience seemingly opposing emotions at the same time.”

One of the best ways to improve people’s mental health is to help them feel less alone by offering a helping hand. Laura suggested several ways in which people can make sure they are there for their loved ones over Christmas.

Igniting a meaningful conversation

She noted: “Try to avoid ‘cheering them up’. People feel most supported when they feel heard and that their feelings have been understood rather than needing someone to try and change them.

Phrases like “Christmas is supposed to be a happy time”, “Other people have it worse”, “Cheer up, it’ll be fine” can feel dismissive and minimise their feelings.”

Sometimes it can be difficult to break the boundaries when asking someone how they are.

If someone tells you they are fine, Laura advises: “Ask them for a second time how they are. We often treat ‘how are you?’ as a general greeting, but asking a second time ‘how are you really doing?’ shows you really do want to know.”

Helping prevent Covid anxiety

With more Covid restrictions being introduced, Laura added: “There is no right way to respond to a pandemic and all experiences are valid.

“Try to understand how others are thinking and feeling, and be respectful of that. For those you are spending time with over Christmas, it may be useful to check in with how they are feeling about COVID and what safety measures they may need to feel comfortable.

“Remember to take care of yourself and notice what things, in particular, lead you to feel stressed or anxious about COVID. For example, it may be useful to limit your time on social media or watching the news so that you aren’t overwhelmed.

“Try to focus on the things you can control rather than worrying about the things you can’t. If possible, try to find moments of joy and fun to help provide some respite from the difficult emotions you may also be feeling.”

Looking after your own mind

To be able to help others, mental health experts often remind people to make sure that they are taking the time to look after their own well-being.

Wiltshire Mind recommends using the ‘Five ways to Wellbeing’ as a prompt. These include: connecting with others, being active, taking notice of smaller things and being present, learning something new (even listening to a podcast counts), and giving back; which helps create a sense of purpose. 

For people who are struggling with their mental health at the moment, there are many support services available, and Wiltshire Mind urges anyone in crisis to seek help as soon as possible. 

Laura said: “Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding as you treat others. Be patient with yourself and others, and know that this time of year can be challenging for many of us, especially during a pandemic. 

“Be mindful of what you need and try to communicate this to the people around you, including setting any relevant boundaries such as topics you don’t want to talk about or events you don’t wish to attend. Consider talking to a friend or loved one about how you are feeling.”

She added: “For confidential crisis support, you can contact the Samaritans 24/7 on 116 123 from any phone. If you are a young person under the age of 35, you can contact the Papyrus HOPELINEUK by calling 0800 068 4141 or texting 0800 068 4141, they are open from 9am to midnight every day.”

Wiltshire Mind supports people all over Wiltshire experiencing mental health problems and is mostly dependent on funding from the community. The charity currently raising urgent funds so they can continue providing support to people who need them. To donate, you can visit their Just Giving page here. 

Over £4,000 raised for Wiltshire Mind and RUH

Story posted on October 26, 2021

A FUNDRAISING day of live music, raffles and a tombola held at The Pilot in Bowerhill raised £4,240 for two charities – Wiltshire Mind and RUH’s Forever Friends Appeal. 

The event on Saturday 16th October ran for almost 12 hours and had musical performances from local acts including The Rock Choir, Chloe Brewer, Emma Webb, Maxwell Walters, Band X, Plan of Action, Heather Kerr and The Vars. 

“It was amazing to hear live music again, they all kept us entertained!” said organiser, Tracie Winslow. “So many people supported us and came on the day, the weather was perfect and the atmosphere was lovely. 

“It was great to see so many families out enjoying themselves again. 

“We were joined by Joe McTiernan, a trustee of Wiltshire Mind. He made me aware just how much help the money will be, especially after the pandemic. 

“A big thank you to everyone who donated and helped on the day. Special thanks must go to Lisa Caine, Chloe Brewer and Paul Winslow for all their help throughout.” 

Over £4,000 raised for Wiltshire Mind and RUH

Children and Young People – BBC Radio Wiltshire interviews

On 17th February our Counselling Co-ordinator/Fundraiser Laura Oatley was interviewed by BBC Wiltshire for the BBC’s and “Make a Difference, Happy Heads” campaign about Children and Young People. Listen in here…

And as a follow during the “Make a Difference, Happy Heads campaign, Paul Mills was interviewed by BBC Wiltshire on 24th February:

Are you struggling? Wiltshire Mind offers online support

Story posted on February 3, 2021, Melksham News

MANY of us are struggling with our mental health, especially during the pandemic and local charity, Wiltshire Mind, is offering support.

Wiltshire Mind is an independent local mental health charity providing county-wide support for those experiencing mental health problems or emotional distress.

The charity report, “We will also be holding an evening group and Tidworth group soon. Tidworth will run on Thursdays at 10.30am and the evening group will run on Tuesdays at 6.30pm.

“To register your interest in attending our peer support groups, simply email supportgroups@wiltshiremind.co.uk with your contact details and the group you are interested in attending, and we will get back to you. Our peer support group sessions offer a safe, friendly place where anyone can find support and friendship.

“Our one-to-one counselling service is continuing remotely via Zoom and telephone. In addition to our adult counselling service, we offer counselling to young people from 11 years of age. To find out more, or to register for counselling, please email counselling@ wiltshiremind.co.uk

“We understand the impact that lockdown has had on people’s mental health, and we are here for you. We offer low-cost support so please do get in touch if you would like to access our services.

“To provide mental health services across Wiltshire we rely on the generous work of our supporters and fundraisers to raise much needed funds. If you would like to donate, please check out our page on Just Giving. https://www.justgiving.com/wiltshire-mind. Thank you.

Demand for counselling services rises as depression doubles during pandemic

Story posted on September 2, 2020 – Melksham News

Local charity Wiltshire Mind has experienced a ‘large increase’ in enquiries for its counselling services as lockdown restrictions continue to be lifted. 

And the charity is anticipating that the need for support will increase as the recession takes hold and more people face financial uncertainty.

The increase in demand for the charity’s services comes at a time when it has been reported that twice as many adults in Britain are experiencing symptoms of depression now, compared with this time last year. Figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest that one in five people appeared to have depressive symptoms compared with one in ten before the pandemic.

Counselling lead at Wiltshire Mind, Philippa Collins, told Melksham News, “We are saddened to read the recent statistics that rates of depression have doubled during the pandemic. 

“We initially noticed a down-turn in counselling enquiries during the first few months of the lockdown, however, we experienced an increase in enquiries for immediate telephone support through our wellbeing check service. The reduction in counselling enquiries was not unexpected as we believe many people were still coming to terms with the situation. Much like any crisis or trauma, it can take time to process the shock of what is happening and to have the capacity to process this. 

“Since July, we have experienced a large increase in counselling enquiries by comparison. We recognise that this links to the gradual lifting of lockdown. We are anticipating there to be an increased need for our services going forward as government financial support measures are wound down, and the recession takes hold.

“For anyone experiencing depression, we recommend talking to someone you trust about how you’re feeling, spending time out in nature, taking regular gentle exercise, having structure to your day, for example, planning at least one activity per day. We would always suggest talking to your GP if you are struggling.

“The pandemic has been a challenging time as all of our services are usually provided face-to-face and it took time to plan how to continue to support our service users in a safe way.

“Our one-to-one counselling service provides support to people who are suffering with stress, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem or emotional distress. We initially paused this service due to the restrictions. 

“We began offering telephone counselling for existing clients from April, and from June we have offered counselling using an online platform for both existing and new clients, which has proved popular. 

“We also offer a Young People’s Service which provides support to people aged between 11 and 18 who are experiencing mental health difficulties. This service operated over the telephone for existing clients from April and counselling for new clients resumed via an online platform in August. 

“We are now completing risk assessments to plan for resuming face-to-face counselling. We are aiming for October, but of course this depends on any changes to government guidelines. 

“We intend to have a phased return, meaning that we will offer both face-to-face and online counselling, depending on the individual client need. Our weekly peer support groups are offered across seven locations in the county, and provide a safe, friendly place for anyone experiencing mental health issues. We have been unable to continue these groups during the pandemic but have offered a new weekly wellbeing phone call to these service users. This has been well-received, particularly for those service users who are isolated or needed to shield. Again, we are risk assessing how we can resume our face-to-face groups in a safe way, which includes being guided by the individual venue and their own risk assessment.

“Our charity shop in Church Street, Melksham, re-opened in July. This not only provides much-needed funds for our service, but also offers volunteering opportunities to members of our community, enabling them to gain experience and also supports their well-being. We are currently accepting donations to the shop, however there are some limitations, so we ask that these are pre-arranged by calling 01225 704985.

“We usually offer a mental health awareness training service to local businesses, which enables them to recognise early signs of mental health issues in their team and take early action to support the employee. We are also able to arrange accredited mental health First Aid training. This is another source of funding for us which has been paused during the pandemic, however we are happy to take enquiries from local businesses to discuss future needs.

“Wiltshire Mind is a self-funding charity and, as with many charities, we have experienced a vast reduction in funding during the pandemic. We welcome any donations from the community and local businesses. People can donate online via www. justgiving.com/wiltshire-mind or contact us in the office for more details.

“For any enquiries about our services or to discuss fundraising possibilities, please contact our office on 01225 706532 between 9am-1pm, Monday to Friday.”