Two local organisations join forces to increase participation in physical activity and improve mental health in Suffolk
Active Suffolk and Suffolk Mind have formalised their partnership in a joint effort to improve mental health through physical activity in Suffolk over the next year.
The latest figures released in a report from Suffolk Mind, indicates that the mental health of people in Suffolk has worsened since the Covid-19 pandemic, detailing that more than half of us are still not, on average, meeting our emotional needs, which means we are experiencing stress and more at risk of mental ill health.
The most recent Active Lives data release from Sport England, also indicates that the pandemic has resulted in a decline in the number of adults across Suffolk participating in regular physical activity, in line with the trends across the country.
Given the link between increased participation in physical activity and movement, and the positive impact this has on mental health and wellbeing, Active Suffolk and Suffolk Mind will be committed to working together in the hope of improving these local statistics.
Both organisations have agreed to collaborate and have signed an agreement, which will see them working at a strategic and operational level; sharing education, raising awareness, exchanging insight and research and seeking future opportunities which will make a real difference to the lives of those people living in Suffolk.
Gareth Davies, Director of Active Suffolk said:
“With the unequivocal link between physical health and mental health, Active Suffolk are delighted to sign this MoU with Suffolk Mind, further strengthening our existing relationship.
“The MoU formalises the natural synergies that exist between our organisations and allows us to mutually support each other’s goals of improving the physical and mental health and Active Suffolk are committed to continue to work alongside Suffolk Mind to support our communities both now and in the future.
“The pandemic continues to have a significant impact across the county, reducing physical activity levels and worsening our mental health and, as we are once again asked to work from home, now is a timely reminder of the importance of building any kind of physical activity in our daily routines to maintain our mental health”.
Jon Neal, Chief Executive of Suffolk Mind said:
“We’re delighted to be working with Active Suffolk, encouraging and enabling people of all ages to take better care of their mental health through movement and physical activity.
“Since Covid-19 and lockdown, rates of depression have doubled, and in Suffolk more than half of us are currently experiencing stress or low level mental ill health. We’ve also been exercising and moving less. These two facts are related and the answer to improving both is intrinsically linked.
“Through this MoU we hope, together, to grow the amount and effectiveness of support available to people in Suffolk.”
Active Suffolk and Suffolk Mind have worked together in the past to promote the 100 miles for Suffolk Mind campaign, where 14 This Girl Can Ambassadors signed up to take on the challenge.
This Girl Can Ambassador, Michelle challenged herself to complete 100 miles for Suffolk Mind in lockdown, after seeing her step count reducing from around 10,000 a day to 2,000. It also helped her through the difficult passing of her dad.
Michelle said: “Little did I know that when I started the challenge, it would actually become a saviour of mine during what has been, without a doubt, the most difficult time of my life!
“My dad lived in Barbados so in my 26th week of pregnancy, I flew there to organise and attend his funeral with my brother. We were required to quarantine in a hotel room on arrival until we received a negative Covid test result. I am not ashamed to admit that I struggled during that time, and I was even concerned about my own mental health in the final few days of being in quarantine.
“With nothing much to do except watch our tablets/phones, my brother and I decided walk up and down our balcony with the aim of hitting our daily step goals. I can honestly say that having that goal each day helped to pass the hours and gave me a real focus! During my time in quarantine, I am proud to say that I managed to walk 64,000 steps, approximately 27.2 miles.”
To sign up to take on 100 Miles for Suffolk Mind, click here.
Author: Ellie Winch
Posted on: 20th December 2021
Suffolk Mind encourages people to connect with each other this Christmas after continued decline in mental wellbeing
Suffolk Mind is encouraging people to connect with one another this Christmas after research shows a continued and concerning decline in people’s mental wellbeing.
The latest report from Suffolk Mind shows that around 70% of people in Suffolk are still not, on average, meeting their emotional needs. This means more than two out of every three of us are experiencing stress and are at risk of mental ill health.
Before the pandemic hit, one in four of us (or 25%) experienced a mental health problem in any given year – so this figure is nearly triple what it was before Covid-19.
The needs for community and emotional connection are being most affected at the moment, meaning people don’t feel as though they are connecting with others. Nearly half of people in Suffolk are not meeting their need for community, and nearly a third don’t feel as though they have a connection with someone who they can be themselves around.
Jon Neal, chief executive of Suffolk Mind said: “People’s mental health has worryingly declined over the past four months, since the summer, where around 50% of people were not meeting emotional needs, putting them at risk of mental ill health. That was bad enough, but it seems things have just got worse.
“But we can all do something about it.
“Two of the needs that are being most poorly met are community and emotional connect. Therefore, we want to encourage people to keep connecting with each other, to support their mental health.
“It doesn’t need to be meeting with others in person, it could be a virtual meal together, a phone call or chatting to your neighbour over the fence. It’s important to keep connected to others, to reduce loneliness and isolation, especially at Christmas time.”
Suffolk Mind is encouraging people to use their PenPal service – where you can write a letter and send it free of charge to the charity, and someone will write back. For more details about this service, click here.
The Suffolk Night Owls emotional helpline is also available over the Christmas period for people to call if they need to speak to someone. Registration for this service can be done here.
Author: Ellie Winch
Posted on: 17th December 2021
Suffolk Mind CEO to run 100 miles in 100 days
The CEO of Suffolk Mind will be taking on 100 miles for Suffolk Mind – in 100 days to raise money and awareness for the mental health charity, as well as supporting his own mental health and wellbeing.
Jon Neal is taking on the popular challenge, from January 1, 2022, to motivate himself to get moving throughout the winter months. Jon will be running a mile a day to get him to the springtime.
Jon said: “Like with many people, lockdown has led to my physical activity disappearing from my day-to-day life…not that it was particularly present before. So I need to motivate myself to get up off my chair, away from my desk and out in my trainers.
“A challenge like this – running a mile a day for 100 days – is the perfect way to spur me on to doing something whilst also raising funds to support people in our community.”
Research from Suffolk Mind shows that since the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns, more than half of us in Suffolk are still not, on average, meeting our emotional needs, which means we are experiencing stress and are at risk of mental ill health. Our report also shows that we have all been exercising and moving less.
Jon continued: “Movement and exercise is key to good mental wellbeing. Just 30 minutes of brisk walking three to four times a week – getting our heart rate above its resting level – is enough to trigger endorphin release which is equivalent in its effect to anti-depressant medication.
“We want to encourage people to get moving as part of our 100 miles for Suffolk Mind – in 100 days challenge to help people feel better during the winter months, whilst raising money to support our vital services.”
For more details about the 100 Miles for Suffolk Mind – in 100 days challenge, click here.
You can also sponsor Jon here.
Author: Ellie Winch
Posted on: 14th December 2021
Suffolk Mind GreenCare project inspires three participants to get their own allotments
A project run by Suffolk Mind has been so inspiring for three of its participants that they have been encouraged to get their own allotments, to benefit their mental health.
Suffolk Mind’s GreenCare project includes four allotments in Haverhill, Hadleigh, Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich which offer people the opportunity to learn about gardening and contribute to the creation of a thriving growing space that benefits everyone.
Sharon has been attending the allotment project in Ipswich for three and a half years. Before she came along to the group, she was unable to go out because she had bad anxiety. She said: “I was getting anxious and my life was going nowhere, I was too scared to go out and meet people, I couldn’t even go into town without having anxiety. I used to feel sick when I was in a crowd.”
“I read a lot about gardening and mental health, and I found the GreenCare project on the Suffolk Mind website. Since coming here, I’ve got the confidence to do things that I never thought I’d do. I still do have difficult days, but they’re not so common now, or as severe.”
“Coming to the group inspired me to get my own allotment as I felt so good after spending just a few hours here, I really wanted to do more of it. It is so amazing growing your own things, I feel so happy and am bouncing with energy after a few hours on my allotment.”
Claire is a volunteer on our Ipswich allotment project and feels such a great sense of achievement from coming along to the group to support others. She said: “I saw something wonderful on a television programme about the link between gardening and mental health and I wanted to get involved in something to make a difference. It’s great to see the magic of seeing things grow, you feel a real connection with nature.”
“We got our own allotment in May and it’s so peaceful, you are really concentrating on one thing at a time, so it’s a really good place to think things over or clear your head. Coming to the group helps too as I will get some advice on how to grow things and I then I go to my allotment to use those skills”.
Laura joined the allotment in Bury St Edmunds in 2019: “Attending the group has really helped my confidence. A friend spurred me to go with her, but I didn’t speak to anyone at the start, but being outside makes me feel safe. There’s no pressure on the allotment, if it gets too much, you can escape when you need to and go off and do some weeding. It is an ideal environment to get my confidence back.
“In the last three years everything has just changed, I’m working now, I have a personality and I can speak in front of people. Don’t get me wrong I still have some horrendous times, but I feel I have gained more confidence.”
Laura has put her name down for her own allotment in Bury St Edmunds. She continued: “Having my own allotment will be a good form of escapism for me and have it as my own project. There’s something in nurturing a piece of land and growing things, you feel attached to what you are growing.”
For more details about the GreenCare project, to self-refer to the service, or become a volunteer, click here.
Author: Ellie Winch
Posted on: 6th December 2021
Local actor speaks out about his mental health after featuring in film campaign for Suffolk Mind
A local actor has spoken about his own mental health struggles during a hard-hitting film released by Suffolk Mind.
The independent mental health charity has created the film portraying a fictional story, based around real struggles people go through. It’s to highlight the vital impact that support from services like Suffolk Mind can have on someone’s life. The video can be found here.
Paul Goldsmith, shared his own struggles during filming and wanted to communicate these experiences as part of the film, to show that anyone can face periods of mental ill health.
Paul suffered a nervous breakdown which had a huge impact on him and his family. He said: “I closed myself off to all around me, including my children. I didn’t want to hurt anyone, not physically but mentally. I didn’t want them to see me failing, to see me low, after all, I’m a daddy and I should be a superhero, right?
“This led me to go deeper and deeper into myself, which in turn allowed the demons to attack more as their voice became the loudest. I became a shell of myself, no confidence, no drive or motivation.
“It became a very dark period and one that now I know could have been completely prevented if I’d have just taken time for myself; to understand that self-care isn’t selfish, that it’s ok to not be ok. That it’s a power and strength to stand up and say ‘my world isn’t right, I need to make some change.”
Lizzy Tuthill, Fundraising Coordinator at Suffolk Mind said: “We are so grateful to Paul for speaking about his mental health as part of this video; unfortunately, Paul is not alone in his experiences.
“Suffolk has a population of 750,000 and typically almost 200,000 will need mental health support at some point. We want to be able to help all those who need us, and also reduce the number of people who need that support in the future. With the help of the Suffolk community, through donations and gifts in Wills, we can help each person not only now, but for years to come.”
This film will be shown at a webinar hosted by Suffolk Mind on Thursday 2nd December, 1pm – 1.45pm, which aims to show the huge need for mental health support in our county, and what impact services that Suffolk Mind provide have on our community.
According to a report from Suffolk Mind, the mental health of people in Suffolk has worsened since the Covid-19 pandemic; more than half of us are still not, on average, meeting our emotional needs, which means we are experiencing stress and are at risk of mental ill health. Before the pandemic hit, one in four of us experienced a mental health problem in any given year – so this figure is still double what it was before Covid-19.
Jon Neal, Chief Executive of Suffolk Mind said: “We are inviting our commissioners, fundraisers, donors and supporters to our webinar, to show them the increasing need for mental health provision in our county and how their vital support helps thousands of people.
“Our research shows that although restrictions have eased, we are still seeing more people struggling with their mental health in Suffolk, than before the pandemic. We will share the reasons behind this, and how we can continue to keep supporting the community of Suffolk.”
For support from Suffolk Mind, or to support the charity in our mission of making Suffolk the best place in the world for talking about and taking care of mental health, visit our website: www.suffolkmind.org.uk.
Author: Ellie Winch
Posted on: 23rd November 2021
Suffolk Mind shortlisted for a national award
Independent mental health charity, Suffolk Mind has been shortlisted for a coveted Investors in People Award 2021. The shortlisted category highlights the amazing work they have done in supporting people in a third sector organisation following what has been a record-breaking year for entries.
The Investors in People Awards celebrate the very best organisations and individuals from around the world across various organisational, people, wellbeing and leadership categories.
Suffolk Mind is an accredited Investors in People organisation which means that the principals and practices around supporting people are in place and everyone understands how to use them to make work better.
Jon Neal, CEO of Suffolk Mind said: “We’re really pleased to have been shortlisted for this award. Our team at Suffolk Mind works hard to support the people of Suffolk and each other making it a fantastic place to work. We ensure we practice what we preach supporting the wellbeing of our staff and volunteers so they feel a sense of meaning and purpose and achievement in their work.”
Paul Devoy, CEO of Investors in People, commented: “Now in our 8th year, it always makes me feel immensely proud to see so many fantastic organisations staking their claim to be the best. And every year, the entries do get more and more competitive and the judging even tighter. Reaching the final shortlist is a testament to the amazing commitment these organisations are making to make work better for their people, and they truly deserve this recognition.”
The Winners will be announced at an online ceremony on the 23rd November 2021.
For the full shortlist and more information about Investors in People please visit www.investorsinpeopleawards.com.
Author: Ellie Winch
Posted on: 28th September 2021
Suffolk Mind to be presented with a cheque for £5,000 to help support more people with their mental health
The Oddfellows friendly society are presenting Suffolk Mind with a cheque for £5,000 at an event to bring people closer together this weekend.
The Family Friendship Garden Party has been organised by the Oddfellows society as part of their friendship month. The aim is to bring people around the county together, to build friendships and tackle loneliness. It is being held at the Redwood Centre in Stowmarket on Saturday 18th September between 2pm and 5pm. As well as the cheque presentation there will be live music and entertainment for the whole family.
Each year the society makes donations to various charities; in 2020 they raised over £184,000 for charities across the country.
David Randall, Immediate Past Grand Master of the national Oddfellows society said: “We are pleased to be in a position to assist a number of charities each year in our area and it gives us great pleasure this Friendship month for Oddfellows Nationally, to make this donation to Suffolk Mind in the sum £5,000.
“We understand how important it is to care for our own members, friends and family and we recognise the outstanding contribution that Suffolk Mind has played, in our community in the support and wellbeing of venerable members of our society, particularly as we continue through these most difficult of times.”
Lizzy Tuthill, Community Fundraising Coordinator at Suffolk Mind said: “Our CEO, Jon Neal and I are really looking forward to attending this event on Saturday. We are so grateful to the Oddfellows for donating an amazing £5,000 to Suffolk Mind, which will help us in achieving our mission of making Suffolk the best place in the world for talking about and taking care of mental health.”
Author: Ellie Winch
Posted on: 16th September 2021
Suffolk Mind supports new parents with their mental health through a free course and counselling sessions
Suffolk Mind is offering support to new parents who are experiencing mental health challenges in the perinatal period.
The independent mental health charity is hosting a Mums Matter course which has been designed for mums who are suffering from symptoms such as worrying thoughts, anxiety and postnatal depression. It is a six-week, online course which is part of the Me, Myself and Baby project being run by Suffolk Libraries. It will help people to develop different tools and strategies for managing and coping with their mental health. It is suitable for women who are pregnant or with babies up to the age of 2.
Suffolk Mind is also offering either parent six, free sessions of counselling to explore issues that are presenting in life and causing difficulties. Counselling is a process people seek when they want to change something in their lives or simply explore their thoughts and feelings.
Lee Harger, Courses and Counselling Manager at Suffolk Mind said: “It is important that we are here to support new parents who are struggling at the moment. Over the past 18 months, new parents have had a difficult time, with not seeing friends and family who they may have relied on for emotional support. We want to ensure people have somewhere to go if they are experiencing mental health challenges”.
People can self-refer to our Mums Matter course or free counselling sessions by completing our online referral form here.
Author: Ellie Winch
Posted on: 19th August 2021
A Suffolk Mind service to help people with mental health issues to gain or retain employment has been extended for a further two years
A Suffolk Mind service to support those with mental health issues to gain or retain their employment will continue to run for a further two years, thanks to funding from the National Lottery.
The independent mental health charity, Suffolk Mind launched Suffolk Work Well (SWW) in March 2019. It was funded to run for two years, however, due to the success and demand for the service, it has now been granted extra funding to continue until 2023.
Since its launch, Suffolk Work Well has supported more than 250 people to gain or retain their employment. The free service provides a supportive back-to-work system, one-to-one support sessions with a dedicated Case Worker and better in-work support through a Personal Wellbeing Plan.
Almost one in three people have experienced mental health problems while in employment and mental ill-health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK. (1)
Tony Wooderson, Suffolk Work Well Co-ordinator said: “We are so pleased to have received this funding from the National Lottery to continue running this much needed service in Suffolk. When we first launched the service, it was based in Ipswich and Felixstowe, but now with the help of online technology, we have been able to expand our reach to everyone in Suffolk.
“We know that appropriate work, combined with the right support, is good for people’s mental health. With everything that has happened in the last year, we want to ensure people feel supported in the workplace or whilst they are job hunting”.
To self-refer or for more information click here. You can also be referred through your Jobcentre, your HR Team, your GP, Support Worker, Care Coordinator, Psychiatrist or Mental Health Practitioner via our online referral form.
Author: Ellie Winch
Posted on: 6th July 2021
Suffolk Mind raises enough money to publish a book about the benefits of exercise on mental health to give to every four-to-five-year-old in Suffolk
Suffolk Mind have confirmed that every reception aged child (four-to-five-years-old) will receive a free storybook in September, teaching them about the benefits of exercise on their mental health.
Independent mental health charity, Suffolk Mind launched a Crowdfunding campaign on World Book Day in March to raise enough money to publish over 8,000 copies of ‘Sammy the Sea Squirt’. With the help of many supporters including Suffolk County Council, the East of England Co-op, Treatt, and the arc in Bury St Edmunds this can now become a reality.
The picture book is based on the character Sammy the Sea Squirt, who moves with ocean friends to look after memory and emotions. Head of Education at Suffolk Mind, Ezra Hewing, has written the story, and a local children’s illustrator has brought the characters to life.
Ezra Hewing said: “We are so grateful to everyone who supported this campaign so we can deliver a very special book to all four-to-five-year-olds in Suffolk during their first year of school.
“We want to ensure that children know the benefits of exercise on their mental health from a young age to help them to learn the skills to be emotionally resilient as they continue to grow into adulthood.”
A number of schools supported the campaign by hosting their own Sammy the Sea Squirt fundraising day on Friday 28th May by dressing up in colourful clothes and taking part in lots of fun, education activities.
Suffolk’s Most Active County Partnership and Public Health Suffolk have also supported the campaign throughout and will be distributing the books to children when they return to school in September.
Cllr Andrew Reid, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Public Protection, & Communities, said: “We are delighted to see this project come to fruition. It’s a really imaginative way of helping children and families understand how important it is for our children’s physical and mental health that they are active from a young age and build strong foundations for being active throughout their lives.
“Hearty congratulations to everyone involved in the successful fundraising campaign and I look forward to seeing the finished version of the book distributed to all reception age children in Suffolk later in the year.”
The Crowdfunding campaign will close at midnight tonight (Friday 11th June 2021).
Author: Ellie Winch
Posted on: 11th June 2021