Suffolk Mind marks Mental Health Awareness Week by encouraging you to connect with nature
During Mental Health Awareness Week (Monday 10 May – Sunday 16 May 2021), Suffolk Mind are releasing tips and advice to encourage people to connect with nature to improve mental health.
Suffolk Mind data shows the number of local people at risk of stress and mental ill health has more than doubled since before the coronavirus pandemic, so it is more important than ever to raise awareness of mental health.
More than half of us (55%) are not, on average, meeting our emotional needs – the key to avoiding stress and maintaining good mental health. This is up from 24.2% before the pandemic.
Throughout this week, Suffolk Mind will be encouraging people to plant seeds on their windowsills, make bird feeders, join a nature trail, pledge to take on the 100 Miles for Suffolk Mind challenge, create a bug hotel or join a movement session based around our book character, Sammy the Sea Squirt.
They will also be supporting other activities, organised by partner charities, like the Take 10 reading challenge, and the East Anglian Daily Times Welcome back to Wellbeing online event on 12 May.
Ezra Hewing, Head of Education at Suffolk Mind said: “Mental Health depends on meeting emotional needs which include the needs to share attention, to have privacy, so we can calm down and reflect, and to have meaning and purpose in our lives. We can meet these needs when we connect with nature.
“Getting away from busy lives and demands can be hard when we’re surrounded by screens and distractions. Connecting with nature can give us the privacy to be free to relax. Attention is precious, and giving attention to nature can help us slow down and return to a relaxed state.”
During the Awareness Week, our GreenCare allotment projects will be reopening after pausing in December 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions. Sarah Manton-Roseblade is the manager: “It’s been around 5 months since we stopped this service to keep people safe, but we are really excited to get back to supporting people in the open space.
“Our four allotments across Suffolk are places where people can feel like they really achieve something; they see the seeds that they plant, grow into beautiful flowers, fruit and vegetables. They also have the chance to chat to other participants and volunteers whilst having a well-earned cup of tea.
“We’re look forward to welcoming anyone to our groups. For more details, visit our website: www.suffolkmind.org.uk/greencare.”
The organisers of the awareness week, the Mental Health Foundation, set the ‘connect with nature’ theme after their research showed that 45% of people reported that being in green spaces has been vital for their mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic.
For tips and advice on how you can connect with nature during Mental Health Awareness Week, click here.
Author: Kristina Brinkley
Posted on: 10th May 2021
People across Suffolk invited to Take 10 to Read!
Children and adults across Suffolk invited to take part in national #Take10toRead challenge at 10am on Monday 10 May, as part of a new literacy campaign created by the National Literacy Trust in partnership with Suffolk County Council.
Schools, businesses and local organisations across Suffolk are invited to drop everything and read for just 10 minutes, which research shows is all that is needed each day to benefit mental wellbeing. National Literacy Trust research also shows that reading has been a source of escapism for young people over the past year, supporting their mental wellbeing and enabling them to dream about the future. Children and adults are invited to pick up a book, comic, magazine, or newspaper. All participants are invited to share photos on social media using the hashtag #Take10toRead, joining a national moment where over 100,000 people are expected to take part. Many organisations across the county are already making plans to get involved including campaign partners Suffolk Libraries and Suffolk Mind.
As part of this literacy campaign, schools can sign up to a virtual visit at 9.50am from award-winning local author Anthony Horowitz to introduce the challenge.
In the virtual event, Anthony will share his love of reading and writing, explaining what reading means to him and how he uses it to escape from everyday life. He’ll also talk about his favourite places to read, then introduce the #Take10toRead challenge at 10am.
Jon Neal, chief executive of Suffolk Mind, said: “Research shows that reading reduces stress levels, calming down our heart rate far more effectively than some of the other comforts we might turn to, such as making a cup of tea or zoning out by watching films or TV shows.
“Through reading or listening to fiction, we connect emotionally and build rapport with the characters we read about. We then practice the skill of entering other people’s lives by exercising empathy – an essential skill for forming and sustaining relationships. And, as we see the world from the viewpoint of a character with a very different outlook to ourselves, we learn to see the things from other points of view; regaining the flexibility of mind which low moods or depression can rob us of.
Find more information and register for the Take 10 event here.
Author: Kristina Brinkley
Posted on: 6th May 2021
Ipswich Town Football Club promotes the importance of mental health for charity match day takeover
Suffolk Mind will be joining Ipswich Town on Sunday 9th May 2021 for a special match day takeover to promote the importance of mental wellbeing.
The charity hopes mental health-themed match days like this will raise awareness and encourage conversation among football fans about their mental health, and raise vital funds for the services they provide in the local community.
Though the charity and its volunteers won’t be able to interact with fans face-to-face at the match, they hope that by working with the club to do a virtual takeover they can raise awareness about the support they offer and raise funds at the same time.
As part of the takeover, Ipswich Town players have appeared in a video highlighting the importance of mental health support during a difficult year for many people.
Players will also be sporting Suffolk Mind t-shirts while they warm up. They will be using their platforms to promote mental health, and Suffolk Mind will be making a special appearance in the match-day programme, including support information.
A dedicated Ipswich Town giving page has also been set up for people to make any donations here.
The virtual charity match day comes as part of Mind’s partnership with the EFL (English Football League), which has already seen the squiggle of Mind’s logo appear on the shirts of Ipswich Town’s players. Over the course of the partnership Suffolk Mind has built closer links with the club by delivering training and support to help bring a lasting legacy around mental health in football.
Mind’s national charity partnership with the EFL launched at the start of the 2018/19 season and has since been extended to run until the end of the 2021/22 season. Working with all 72 EFL clubs across the country it aims to:
o raise awareness of mental health with fans, clubs and staff
o raise funds to deliver life-changing support
o help improve the approach to mental health in football working with other partners in the game.
Lizzy Tuthill, Community Fundraising Coordinator said: “Every year, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem. That could be one person in every family, hundreds of football players and many thousands of football fans. The effects of the pandemic have undoubtedly made things more challenging.
“We know that many fans have been particularly affected by the pandemic through missing out on the camaraderie and community spirit felt by being together on match days. Through this virtual charity match day, we want to let fans know that although we can’t all be together for the match, we are still here for them if they need support.
“We are proud to be working with Ipswich Town over the course of the partnership to raise wider awareness about mental health among fans and within the local community, as well as raising vital funds for our services.”
Dan Palfrey, Ipswich Town’s PR manager said: “We’ve worked closely with Suffolk Mind for three years now, and are delighted to continue supporting them and raising vital awareness of mental health amongst our fans through initiatives such as their matchday takeover against Fleetwood.”
For more information about the charity match day and to donate, click here.
Author: Kristina Brinkley
Posted on: 6th May 2021
Local organisations help Suffolk Mind to fund book for every four-to-five-year-old in Suffolk
A number of local organisations have joined in Suffolk Mind’s project to fund a book linking exercise to mental health for every reception aged child (four-to-five-years-old) in Suffolk.
Suffolk Mind launched a Crowdfunding appeal on World Book Day (Thursday 4th March) and have raised £6,675 so far. They are hoping to reach a target of £40,000 to be able to publish 8,000 books teaching children about the benefits of exercise on their mental health, in a fun, colourful way.
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. Public Health Suffolk have organised the distribution to the school children.
The East of England Co-op are backing the Crowdfunding campaign and have pledged to give 10% of whatever is raised.
Niall O’Keeffe, Joint Chief Executive for the East of England Co-op, said: “The past year has highlighted the importance of wellbeing and physical activity for people of all ages. This storybook is an engaging and fun way to encourage children to think about how they can be more active, and provides parents and carers with an opportunity to start conversations about wellbeing, which will also help them in later life. Getting a copy of this book to all four to five year olds is something we’re very proud to support.”
TREATT PLC are among other local people and organisations to support the project, having pledged £1,000 to help Suffolk Mind reach their target.
Ezra Hewing said: “We want say a massive thank you to these organisations and any other person who has donated to our Sammy the Sea Squirt campaign. This is a very important project, to educate children on how to look after their mental health now and into adulthood.
“Movement and exercise makes the heart and body strong and healthy, but it also burns off harmful stress hormones to stop them damaging children’s brains when they are at their most vulnerable. Help us to support our future generations by getting our Sammy the Sea Squirt book into the hands of every four-five-year-old in Suffolk.”
To support the Crowdfunding campaign, and receive a number of rewards, visit our Crowdfunder page here.
Author: Kristina Brinkley
Posted on: 1st April 2021
Working together to provide better care for everyone
The last year has demonstrated how communities pull together at times of crisis, when lots of people need support in many different ways.
Life has changed for everyone – whether furloughed or not…working from home, or working in an environment that’s busier or much quieter than usual. For all of us, the way we meet our emotional needs and stay well has been different.
As we start to look towards a time when things change again, Suffolk Mind has joined together with other local charities and public sector bodies to support the Integrated Care Academy at the University of Suffolk.
Our involvement stems around our desire to make Suffolk the best place in the world for talking about and taking care of mental health. To achieve this ambition, we’re always keen to recruit others to the cause – we can’t do it alone.
So it makes sense to want to create a future in which people come from all over the world to Suffolk to learn about the best way to deliver integrated care.
For us, this means delivering care that enables people to meet their emotional needs, rather than putting up barriers – and it means everyone delivering care to people is skilled in identifying unmet needs and coaching people through spotting the barriers and coming up with solutions.
Working with the University of Suffolk, we hope to raise more awareness of our approach, and train people who deliver services to be able to help the people they see in a more holistic way. If we’re all using the same language, and working towards identifying unmet emotional needs, then we stand a better chance of keeping people at the wellbeing end of the mental health continuum.
You can read more about our suggested approach to health in this paper.
Author: Kristina Brinkley
Posted on: 29th March 2021
Suffolk Mind launches appeal to fund a book for every four-to-five-year-old in Suffolk
Suffolk Mind has launched a crowdfunding appeal on World Book Day (Thursday 4th March 2021) to fund the creation of a book, based around the benefits of exercise on mental health, to be given to every Reception aged child (four-to-five-years-old) in Suffolk.
Movement and exercise makes the heart and body strong and healthy, but it also burns off harmful stress hormones to stop them damaging children’s brains when they are at their most vulnerable. Figures show that 35% of children and young people said their mental health had got worse during the Covid-19 pandemic, so the need to make the link between movement and brain health is more important than ever.
Ezra Hewing, Head of Education at Suffolk Mind, tells a tale in Suffolk Mind’s EARLY Minds primary school’s training of a Sea Squirt called Sammy who moves with ocean friends to look after their memory and emotions. Supported by Suffolk’s Most Active County programme, this tale has now been turned into a picture book. A local children’s illustrator has brought the characters to life, and Public Health Suffolk are organising its distribution to school children across the county.
Ezra Hewing said: “This is such an important project, to ensure that children from a young age know the benefits of exercise on their mental health. We want children to learn the skills to be emotionally resilient as they continue to grow into adulthood.
“Nobody wants their child to experience poor mental or physical health. But what can parents and carers do to protect their child? How can they support them to grow up to be positive and emotionally resilient adults?
“We’re appealing to parents, grandparents, businesses and anyone else who has an interest in our children’s future, to help us fund the book to give to every four-to-five-year-old in Suffolk. The story has been written and the characters have been created, now all we need is the support of our local community to be able to publish more than 8,000 copies.”
Dennis Stevenson, Suffolk Mind patron and former Chairman of Pearson Plc, is supporting the campaign. He said: “Having been involved at a national level in mental health policy, I know how important it is that we educate our children and young people about how they can stay well.
“What Suffolk Mind has done is to use an entertaining and engaging story about a sea squirt to make a serious point about the relationship between movement and mental health. I’ve made a contribution towards this crucial project and hope others will follow suit – donating whatever they can afford – to try and get this book into the sticky hands of as many four-to-five-year-olds as possible.”
Prior to the pandemic, figures showed that three in five young people (11-19 years of age) had either experienced a mental health problem themselves, or were close to someone who had and half of all mental health problems had been established by the age of 14, rising to 75% by the age of 24
Research from the University of Essex published in 2018 showed that the decrease in childhood fitness in the past two decades has been so great, the least fit child in a class of 30 tested in 1998 would be among the five fittest in a class of 30 children tested today.
Cllr James Reeder, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Prevention, said: “We know that physical activity helps children to build strong muscles and bones, helps build their confidence, improves their ability to learn and helps maintain their mental and emotional wellbeing.
“Suffolk’s Most Active County campaign is therefore delighted to endorse the Suffolk Mind crowdfunding appeal for the ‘Sammy the Sea Squirt’ book, which will provide parents with an exciting and engaging way of talking to their children about the importance of movement, through storytelling.
“It would be wonderful if we could provide a Sammy the Sea Squirt book for every four-to-five-year-old in Suffolk. Please do support it if you can. Together we can give Suffolk’s children the best start in life.”
Emma Graham the Illustrator working on the project said: “It is wonderful to be asked to work on such an important project. I love illustrating children’s books, and bringing Sammy and friends to life from Ezra’s story has been fun. I look forward to creating the finished illustrations and book, as I know Sammy’s story will encourage children to move, exercise and have fun, and keep their brains healthy too.”
To mark the launch of the Crowdfunding appeal and World Book Day, Suffolk Mind is hosting a Facebook live event at 4.30pm on Thursday 4th March 2021. This will include a sample of the Sammy the Sea Squirt story and an exercise session for all the family. Please visit our Facebook page to access this session: @SuffolkMind1.
For details about our Crowdfunding appeal please visit: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/sammytheseasquirt.
To watch our animation video explaining the project, visit our YouTube channel by clicking here.
Author: Kristina Brinkley
Posted on: 4th March 2021
Suffolk Mind offers support to Suffolk’s LGBTQ+ community
Suffolk Mind are offering free courses and counselling to support the mental wellbeing of Suffolk’s LGBTQ+ community during LGBTQ+ History Month.
The independent mental health charity has secured funding to offer free Your Needs Met and Sleep Well, Be Well courses as well as counselling sessions. Figures from Healthy Suffolk in 2018 shows that 88% of people who identified as transgender and non-binary have (had) depression . During the pandemic, research from Suffolk Mind indicates that those who are non-binary were one of the worst affected groups for meeting their emotional needs.
Suffolk Mind’s Your Needs Met course explores how people can stay mentally well by looking after their emotional needs. Sleep Well, Be Well explains how important sleep is to an individual’s mental health. Insomnia and poor-quality sleep are linked to physical ill health as well as mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
During the pandemic, research by Suffolk Mind shows that more than half of people in our county have struggled to get a good night’s sleep.
Suffolk Mind are offering the support over the telephone and Zoom to ensure it is accessible for everyone who needs it during this time.
Corrina Hanley from Suffolk Mind has Coordinated the project: “Anyone can experience a mental health problem, but those who identify as LGBTQ+ are more likely to develop problems like depression and anxiety. Reasons for this could be homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, stigma and discrimination or social isolation and exclusion.
“Suffolk Mind has always offered support to Suffolk’s LGBTQ+ community, but we want to make it more accessible by offering a tailored support service. We want to ensure people have somewhere to go when they are struggling with their mental health”.
People can self-refer for this support here.
Author: Kristina Brinkley
Posted on: 11th February 2021
Suffolk Mind and East of England Co-operative Group announce ground-breaking collaboration
Building on a relationship that has been growing over the last few years, the East of England Co-op and mental health charity Suffolk Mind, have come together in a collaboration that the two organisations believe will break new ground in retail sector wellbeing.
Like all employers, the East of England Co-op want to provide the best support possible for their colleagues in the region’s largest independent retailer. The Coronavirus pandemic, subsequent lockdowns and the new ways we are all doing business have presented extra pressures and strains for everyone.
The new collaboration will see Suffolk Mind embed an employee with the East of England Co-op team for two years, initially, to support colleague wellbeing and help develop a new, organisation-wide strategy to prevent mental ill health from occurring.
Doug Field, Joint Chief Executive of the East of England Co-operative, said: “Colleague safety and wellbeing is our top priority. We recognise we need to do more to help our colleagues and working with Suffolk Mind on this ground-breaking collaboration will be a great leap forward”
Jon Neal, Chief Executive of Suffolk Mind, added: “The East of England Co-op has always been supportive of Suffolk Mind and our colleagues in other local Minds in the region.
“This new collaboration will see a member of our team embedded within the organisation, ensuring colleagues know about the support available to them, as well as training teams to be able to look after themselves and those around them better. They will improve skills to ensure managers feel more confident, equipped and empowered to support mental health at work.”
Suffolk Mind uses a particular approach to mental health called the Emotional Needs & Resources model. This approach encourages employers to create workplaces that enable people to meet emotional needs like Control, Security, Attention and Community.
Jon Neal continued: “There is always more we can all do in enabling people to meet their emotional needs. Whether it’s creating space for people to get away from distractions, or encouraging teams to work together, the model we use can help identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement.”
For more details about the new role, click here.
Author: Kristina Brinkley
Posted on: 2nd February 2021
New mental health support service launched for health and care staff
A new support service for health and care staff across Norfolk and Suffolk has launched to help them cope with the immense pressures of working during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Norfolk and Suffolk COVID-19 support service; run in partnership by Suffolk Mind and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) will give all health and care staff rapid access to mental health support from local mental health specialists.
Health and care staff can call the confidential COVID-19 support service on 0300 123 1335 Monday to Friday 09:30 – 16:30
Specially trained Suffolk Mind call handlers will offer emotional support, signposting and referral into the dedicated COVID support clinical team run by NSFT if treatment is needed.
Diane Palmer, a lead nurse at NSFT said: “I feel privileged to be developing and leading this important new service, which will provide rapid access to psychological support for frontline health, social care and care staff who have been supporting the response to the COVID-19
Tony Wooderson from Suffolk Mind said “We are so pleased to be offering this service to the amazing professionals who are doing such a vital job on the frontline. We want to ensure they are receiving the support they need during this incredibly challenging time.
“We are here to be a listening ear, offer emotional support and signpost wherever necessary”.
Jonathan Warren, chief executive at NSFT said: “Every one of us in the health and care system has been affected by the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this incredibly difficult time, our health and care staff continue to provide the highest standards of care to the people in our communities, and it’s vital that we look after them while they care for others.
“This funding from NHS England provides us with an opportunity to enhance the existing national and local support on offer to these staff, improve the resilience of teams, and crucially help to keep our staff well and able to continue their fantastic work across the health and care system.”
Author: Kristina Brinkley
Posted on: 26th January 2021
Connect with each other during lockdown to halt decline in mental health
Suffolk Mind has issued a plea to local people to write letters, telephone people they haven’t spoken to for a while, shout to neighbours over garden fences, or do whatever they can to connect with others to try and halt the decline in our mental health due to lockdown.
For those that would like to participate, the charity is launching a Suffolk Mind PenPals scheme. People can write to Suffolk Mind and a volunteer will write back within two weeks or so. For more details click here.
Suffolk Mind has released data that shows the proportion of the local population at risk of stress and mental ill health has more than doubled since this time a year ago – before the coronavirus pandemic.
More than half of us (55%) are not, on average, meeting our emotional needs – the key to avoiding stress and maintaining good mental health. And it may be people that have never experienced any kind of struggle before that are doing so for the first time.
Jon Neal, chief executive of Suffolk Mind, said: “We look at mental health through the emotional needs we all have that must be met to stay well. The biggest fall has been in feeling part of a wider community – this fell in the first lockdown, but has continued to fall.
“This may seem obvious, with people unable to see anyone else, but it’s the rate of decline that’s concerning us most. And with little certainty as to when the current lockdown will end, it means wellbeing is unlikely to recover for some time.
“Around two thirds of us now say we do not feel part of a wider community. An increasing number of us don’t feel that we have meaning and purpose in our lives, and more of us are feeling like we have no control, we’re not making choices for ourselves.”
Suffolk Mind has updated the resources on the Covid19 section of its website, providing more tips, videos, blogs and infographics to help people understand their mental health and enable them to do something to help.
We are also providing Suffolk’s Needs Met sessions to the public, a virtual training course with information about how people can meet their emotional needs to stay mentally well. To attend, people just need the coupon code ‘snmopencourse’ when they book here.
“The one thing all of us can do is connect with another human being in a meaningful way. Write a letter, make a telephone call, have a conversation over a fence at a big distance. Do something to connect with people. You might not think you need it, but you probably do. And even if you don’t, there are plenty of people out there do.
“This should be our equivalent of clapping on a Thursday night to respect key workers. The need now is to connect with each other so we all feel part of a community again. We’ve got lots of resources on our website to inspire you with writing suggestions, toolkits and advice. And if you can’t think of someone to write to, write to us and we’ll write back.”
Author: Kristina Brinkley
Posted on: 22nd January 2021