News Archive December 2021
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