Mental ill health can have a significant negative impact on every aspect of life; from social inclusion to employment or education. In addition, the stigma and discrimination associated with it can make things even more difficult for people that experience mental health issues.
The pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns have only worsened the situation: In a recent survey from YoungMinds, 67% of young people believe that the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health.
In Islington, we have some of the highest levels of mental ill health in the UK, and the highest levels of depression in London. That’s why improving mental health is one of our priority focus areas and has been since Islington Giving was established over 10 years ago.
For World Mental Health Day we wanted to shine a light on some local organisations we have supported over the last 18 months, which run projects that improve the mental wellbeing of people in Islington.
Local organisations supporting mental health
You Are Not Alone (YANA) project run by Body & Soul
In 2016, Islington Giving kickstarted Body & Soul’s ‘You Are Not Alone’ programme to save and transform the lives of young people who have attempted suicide. During the last 18 months, Body & Soul have had to adapt to the new circumstances.
“Life changing, life saving to be honest – I don’t just see a future for myself now, I’m excited for that future.” YANA participant
“The Covid-19 pandemic changed the lives of our members drastically overnight, and we saw the effects almost immediately to our community and the young people referred to us for support. With help from Islington Giving’s Mental Health Fund, we were able to quickly transition our services to completely remote, thus continuing to offer a space of weekly support for our members in uncertain times. We have also seen a community continue to develop, if from a distance. We recognised early on that our members who had already completed the Dialectical Behaviour Therapy programme would benefit from continued reminders of what was addressed in their time of the programme. Thus, we created the MindSET initiative – a weekly, live streamed podcast co-hosted by graduates of our programme and our lead DBT therapist. This podcast quickly grew into an entire programme of its own, and over 20 YANA graduates have volunteered in the service since its inception in April 2020.
Image from Body & Soul’s ‘You Are Not Alone’ website section
Delivering differently – Stuart Low Trust
Stuart Low Trust provide safe spaces and community activities focusing on arts, nature and wellbeing. Thanks to funds from Islington Giving’s Disability Fund they have been able to create resources which are accessible to those with visual and hearing impairments.
“The engagement has been considerably higher than previous years, highlighting the need for extra mental health support and interaction due to the pandemic. A further 1150 participants received extended telephone support which had a huge amount of positive feedback. A series of Mindfulness/Mindfulness in Nature videos were made so participants could have something to support them, day or night. These were then produced as 3 DVDs for those who do not have access to technology, the first posted as a Christmas gift, the third adapted for the hard of hearing with subtitles and signing. The aim is to attract people with deafness to attend SLT sessions, increasing accessibility. Additionally, we know nature benefits mental health so SLT has partnered London Wildlife Trust and Mildmay Community Centre, enabling us to extend our Nature Programme.”