World Mental Health Day is this Sunday (10 October), and at Co-op we’re taking a look at how we bring communities together across the UK to support mental wellbeing. Director of community and shared value Rebecca Birkbeck shares how Co-op’s partnership with Mind, the Scottish Association for Mental Health and Inspire is having a positive impact on people’s lives.

Did you know that one in four of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year?1 That’s around 14 million people in the UK – and the pandemic has had a huge impact, with 65% of adults and 68% of young people reporting that their mental health got worse since the first national lockdown, as Mind told us as part of our Twitter Q&A.

On 8 October, I took to Twitter, with the help of the Co-op team, to speak to our partners about some of the community mental wellbeing services Co-op has been supporting. I’d like to share the highlights of the discussion here.

Our support for mental wellbeing in communities is made possible through the amazing fundraising efforts of our colleagues, customers and members. Together we have already been able to raise an incredible £6 million of our £8 million target, and have supported 3,000 people across the UK through our partnership mental wellbeing services. Our partnership presents a unique opportunity to respond to the specific needs of local communities, from interactive workshops and group support sessions to a digital wellbeing platform. Here’s what we’ve been up to in the community.

SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health)

SAMH told us about the real difference we are making in Scotland: ‘We’re able to deliver services like Let’s TALK, which supports young people to improve their mental wellbeing through interactive workshops and training.’ One user of the service, aimed at 10- to 14-year-olds, said it has helped them learn ‘how to deal with stress, which helps a lot as I’m going to high school’. 

Bereavement support for local communities is another big focus, given the impact it has on our mental wellbeing. One person supported by the service said, ‘Being able to relate to people who have been through similar trauma has been especially beneficial to me. Just knowing that it’s okay not to be okay and to feel the way I do is very reassuring. You guys are truly a light in these dark times.’

Inspire

Inspire has launched a new digital wellbeing platform called i-Connect, which provides instant access to information and tools to support mental health and is available 24/7. ‘i-Connect is a great wellbeing platform,’ one user said. ‘I have found it useful for tracking my mood and I have developed some new healthy lifestyle choices, including improving my sleep, which i-Connect has helped through some of the suggested podcasts and meditation guides.’

Mind

Mind, which delivers services across England and Wales, has seen great improvements in the young people who have been supported through our partnership. One young person, who attended a session by Tameside, Oldham and Glossop Mind, said, ‘I was informed about Mind from school, as I was always stressed, tensed up and upset a lot. I felt like I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. I found the services really helpful. I got a lot off my shoulders, I felt a weight lifted off me.’ 

I was delighted recently to be able to visit one of the services our partnership supports, Young Rainbow Minds, along with our CEO Steve Murrells, to find out how they’re helping young people from the LGBTQI+ community in East London and Greater Manchester with their mental wellbeing. You can see more from Steve here.

The visit really made me think about how isolated young LGBTQI+ people felt during the pandemic and how critical services like these on the ground really are. There will always be more to do to help, but thanks to all of you and our members and customers, I could see the difference we are already making. 

Wondering what you can do to support and celebrate World Mental Health Day?

  • For ways to support your own and others’ mental wellbeing, download the Be Kind to Your Mind guide here.
  • Make a donation to our partners at the till in our Co-op stores or via your Co-op Deliveroo basket on the app. Your donation will help bring communities together to support mental wellbeing.

Mind is a registered charity in England & Wales no. 219830. SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) is a registered charity in Scotland no. SC008897. Inspire is a registered charity in NI no. 103470

1. McManus, S., Meltzer, H., Brugha, T. S., Bebbington, P. E., & Jenkins, R. (2009). Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007: results of a household survey.

Author: Rebecca Birkbeck
Community & Shared Value Director

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