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Supporting your mental health over the Christmas period

Christmas can be a difficult time of year for many of us. This might trigger problems with our mental health, or worsen existing difficulties. Coupled with the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, it is important to take care of ourselves and our loved ones over this festive period.

Supporting others

If you are worried about the mental health of people in your life, it can be really helpful to just start an open conversation with them.

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. It is important not to make assumptions about how someone is feeling, but rather ask them how they’re feeling about Christmas this year and give them space to share their feelings and listen without judgment, and let them know it’s common to find things hard at this time of year.

If someone is struggling, 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 we use these phrases because we are feeling uncomfortable, but if you can instead sit with that and just be alongside that person in whatever they are feeling, this an can be really helpful.

We may find that when we first ask how someone is, they just say they’re ‘fine’. It can be really helpful to 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 genuinely do want to know. If they still aren’t keen to share how they are, respect that decision and just let them know you are happy to listen if they do want to talk at any time. If you find some things at Christmas hard, it can be useful to share that with them to help normalise this and let them know they aren’t alone in their feelings.

If you notice that someone is feeling a lot of stress at this time of year, you may want to try and help them. In this case, it is important to understand what each person might need rather than making too many assumptions. Try having an open conversation about what elements of Christmas they are feeling stressed about, and what might be helpful for them. This might include setting spending limits on presents, offering to help with childcare, understanding that people who have problems with eating might need support around mealtimes and so on.

Coping with COVID anxiety

Many of us are feeling lots of different emotions about the pandemic and we may be having different experiences from our loved ones. It is important to remember 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 maybe 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.

Taking care of our own mental health

Christmas can feel like a very busy time for many of us, but it is important to try and find time to take care of our wellbeing too.

We recommend using the ‘Five ways to Wellbeing’ as a prompt. This includes:

  • Connecting – spending time with people in a way that feels connecting and energising for you.
  • Be Active – take time to be active, even if just a short walk each day to get some fresh air. During the winter, it is especially important to get outside in the daylight.
  • Take Notice – try to be mindful and focus on the current moment rather than worrying about the past or future. Even just a few minutes of focusing on your breathing can help.
  • Learn – spend some time learning something new, even just listening to a short podcast can help keep your mind active.
  • Give – helping others can help give you a sense of purpose. This might include support a friend, volunteering in your community or just being kind to others when you are doing your Christmas shopping.

Remember to 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.

For information about what to do in a mental health crisis, or for details of other organisations who provide immediate support, please visit our Information and Support page.

Whilst you’re here

Wiltshire Mind is an independent charity and we receive most of our funding from the community. We know the country is in a mental health crisis, and we urgently need to raise funds so that we can continue to provide support to the people who need us. To make a donation, not matter how small, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/wiltshire-mind.

Help raise funds for better mental health in Wiltshire

Every week 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem. In Wiltshire alone, there are around 68,000 people experiencing some form of mental health disorder. These statistics are eye-watering.

Wiltshire Mind provides support to the many people locally who experience mental health problems or emotional distress. We provide low-cost counselling for adults, and free counselling for children and young people aged 11+. We also run peer support groups across Wiltshire, offering a safe a confidential space to share experiences and gain support and confidence. Last year, we delivered over 1400 counselling sessions, 63 support group sessions, in total helping 238 people in our county towards better mental health.

As a local charity we receive all of our funding from our community. We are not commissioned, so we don’t receive any statutory funding. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and fundraisers, we are able to offer accessible support for everybody. This year, our community raised £79,000 towards the cost of providing these mental health services.

Covid-19 has had a dramatic effect on the demand for our services these past 18 months. We have seen an increase in the need for support, and waiting lists have grown across all providers. To meet this growing demand, we need to raise £465 a day.

If you or your business are planning a fundraising event, thinking about a regular donation or planning on having a dedicated charity of the year, please do think of Wiltshire Mind. From corporate golf days to local cycle relays, cake and bake sales to raffles, live music events to sports competitions or even Christmas Jumper days, there are so many fun ways to raise much needed funds for mental health support locally. Check out our social media posts too for more ideas.

Why not email us today at fundraising@wiltshiremind.co.uk and find out a bit more about how you or your company can help make a difference in this mental health crisis. Every pound raised goes towards providing better mental health for our community.

Nobody should face a mental health problem alone. We need your help so we can be there.

If you’d like to donate to Wiltshire Mind, visit our Just-Giving page today. https://www.justgiving.com/wiltshire-mind.

Thank you.

We are recruiting for an Operations Manager, fixed-term contract (6 months)

We have an exciting opportunity for an enthusiastic and experienced Operations Project Manager to join our team at Wiltshire Mind, based in Melksham, Wiltshire. The successful candidate will join us on a fixed term 6-month basis working 37 hours a week.

Wiltshire Mind is an independent charity supporting people in Wiltshire who are experiencing mental health problems or emotional distress. Our services are accessible for everybody in our community, and we provide one-to-one counselling support for people who are experiencing mental health problems including adults and Children and Young People from 11+. We also run peer support groups across the county.

We are seeking an organised, highly motivated Operations Project Manager with experience in HR, H&S and Governance, to help design and implement appropriate and effective processes in our charity. We have recently been awarded a quality accreditation and want to continue to drive change and future-proof our ‘business as usual’ activities. The ability to work efficiently as part of a small team, influencing and implementing change, and working to our charity values will be key attributes.

Previous experience in operational work is essential, as is a passion for the work of our charity in supporting people who are experiencing mental health problems.

If this sounds like you and you want to make a difference to our community and help towards better mental health in Wiltshire – contact us today by emailing us with a covering email and your CV to office@wiltshiremind.co.uk. You should include a personal statement in your email as to your suitability for the role, based on the job description. This application is open until 15 November, and a DBS check will be carried out for the successful applicant.

Thank you for your interest in Wiltshire Mind.

We are recruiting for a Support Group Facilitator

We have an exciting opportunity for an enthusiastic and experienced Support Group Facilitator to join our team at Wiltshire Mind, based in Melksham, Wiltshire. The successful candidate will join us on a permanent basis working 9.5 hours a week over 3 days, of which the days can be flexible and will be discussed as a part of the interview process.  The role is made of face-to-face groups in Trowbridge and Melksham and an online Evening Group.  The successful candidate will also be expected to attend the office, once a week in order to complete administration tasks and build relationships with the wider team.

If this sounds like you and you want to make a difference to our community and help towards better mental health in Wiltshire – download the details and application form below.

Annual General Meeting 2021

Dear Members and Friends of Wiltshire Mind,

Notice is given that the 2021 Annual General Meeting of Wiltshire Mind will be held:

Date: Wednesday 10th November 2021

Time: 10.00-11.00am

Venue: St James Centre, Devizes

Register: By emailing office@wiltshiremind.co.uk (Please put ‘AGM’) as the email subject. (No entry on the day at the door without pre-registration.)

or call 01225 706532 Monday to Friday 9am-1pm.

All interested parties most welcome. There are limited spaces at the venue due to social distancing restrictions.

We hope you can join us at our AGM, where you can hear about our years work. We remained operational through the pandemic, thanks to our members, funders and supporters.

We will also receive the accounts for 2020-2021, and appoint our Independent Examiner. Appointment of Trustees will also be undertaken.

5 ways to get outside, and into nature this summer

Izzy Fry, age 15


Being out in nature and greenspaces is scientifically proven to be beneficial for both our physical and mental health.

Being out in the ‘wild’ or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear and stress and increases happy feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to you physical wellbeing, reducing heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones.

So why don’t you get outside and connect with nature – it will be good for your physical and mental health! Here are my top 5 ideas to get you outside in nature this summer!

MAKE A SOLITARY BEE HOUSE – I absolutely love making these bee hotels and all you need is a slice of wood and a drill! Drill multiple holes into the slice of wood (but be careful you don’t go the whole way through!) Solitary bees will use these holes to lay their eggs in – you will know when one has made it it’s home as it cover up the front!

STARGAZING – sleeping out under the stars is a great experience! Grab a blanket, find a cosy spot to lie down in and look up! The longer you gaze the more stars you’ll discover – you can use the app star walk to find the names of the stars your sleeping underneath!

WILD SWIMMING – wild swimming is such a fun way to connect with nature and be outside! Find a little river or lake (make sure you have permission) and go for a paddle or swim! There are so many benefits of the cold water – it boosts brain power, relives stress and its very meditative!

PLANT A WILDFLOWER MEADOW – wildflowers benefit lots of wildlife from bees and butterflies to mammals and birds; and they are also fun to make for us! Choose a suitable area in your garden – it needs to be somewhere open and sunny. Choose your wildflower seeds, some good mixes can include poppies, cowslips and ox-eye daisies (you can harvest the seeds yourself or buy a mix online!) Dig or rake the soil and sprinkle the seeds, water every few days and watch the flowers grow!

PHOTOGRAPHY – get outside with a camera or even a phone and photograph nature. From bees on flowers and birds on feeders to the tops of trees and landscapes. Photography is a great way to capture the beauty of nature and wildlife.

A colourful weekend!

The accounts team from Wiltshire based The Pension Solutions Group, made up of Katie, Pearl, Bethany and Alecia, participated in the Bath Colour Run last weekend, raising nearly £700 for Wiltshire Mind.

The event which took place at Bath Racecourse takes in 20 obstacles over a 5km run.

Appreciating how everyone’s mental health has been affected over the course of the pandemic, the team wanted to raise funds for Wiltshire Mind to enable us to continue to provide our services across Wiltshire.

Katie commented:

We had a fab day taking part in the Colour Obstacle Rush. It was tough work, 5k and 20 obstacles, all whilst people around you were throwing paint in your face, but it was well worth it to know we had raised money for such a good cause, and as far as runs go for fundraising, this one was particularly fun! We chose to support Wiltshire Mind because we know how hard the last year and a half has been for everyone. We are all in the same boat, but we have all experienced it in very different ways. Everyone’s mental health has been affected and it is charities like Wiltshire Mind that provide ample support.”

To provide mental health support to our communities across Wiltshire through 2021, we need to raise £465 a day. We rely on the generous donations of our supporters and local fundraising activity, which has been hit hard by the pandemic and the social restrictions.

If you would like to help raise funds for Wiltshire Mind to enable us to continue providing mental health support work across the county, please email fundraising@wiltshiremind.co.uk to see how we can support you.

We are an independent charity, and every penny fundraised allows us to extend our support to more people in Wiltshire. We really value your fundraising and would love to work with you.

We need your support please

Since the first lock down in March 2020, Wiltshire Mind has been providing Counselling for adults and young people and also running Peer Support Groups to those in need of mental health support. We have seen a big increase in demand again in recent weeks, and we have been able to offer counselling and support groups to people across Wiltshire.

Like many charities, we are seeing a decrease in our income though. We offer low-cost services, ensuring they are available to anyone. But this also means our current level of income is not covering our costs.

To provide mental health support to our communities across Wiltshire each year, we need to raise £465 a day. We do not currently receive any commissioned or statutory funding, so we rely on the generous donations of our supporters and local fundraising activity, which has been hit hard by the pandemic and the social restrictions.

1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem in our lifetime. We make a difference by offering hope through mental health support to our community. The Coronovirus pandemic is having a huge impact on our mental health. Help us be there for everyone in Wiltshire who needs us at this time.

If you can help in any way, please support us and donate today.

A year of ice baths?

You don’t have to be an elite athlete to support Wiltshire Mind.

Our supporters have fundraised for us in many different and unique ways, from video game-a-thons and bake sales, to undertaking a year of freezing showers!

Community fundraising is the life blood of Wiltshire Mind. We rely on our generous supporters to fund vital services county wide, which include counselling for both young people and adults, peer support groups, and mental health training for individuals and businesses.

So don’t worry if donning the Lycra or trainers isn’t your thing. Choose something you love to do and support the local charity that is here for you.

Wiltshire Mind – For better mental health in Wiltshire.

www.wiltshiremind.co.uk or email: fundraising@wiltshiremind.co.uk

One of our younger fundraisers!
Golfing to raise funds for Wiltshire Mind