Final update from the Good Mental Health Coop

For those of you who have been following our fortunes, you’ll be aware that the Good Mental Health Coop closed down all our activities at the end of March.

However we’re lucky enough to have found partners who will continue a lot of the work we’ve been developing over the years, so I’d like to introduce these enterprises again to you.

Please scroll down to find more info and links to the work of Creatful, Sanpau Creative Wellbeing, and Creative Mental Health – three enterprises which share the values and philosophy of the Good Mental Health Coop.

The weekly Nexus Women’s Creativity and Wellbeing group, which meets on Tuesday mornings, will be continuing through another social enterprise, Creatful. Nancy Fellows started Creatful a few years ago in the Havant / Waterlooville area. She will be overseeing the future development of ‘Creatful Buckland’ along with regular facilitator Jane Moody.

The women’s group will continue as before with the same format after the Easter school holidays, on Tuesday 16 April, and you can click here to see the Creatful programme of activities for April.
To keep up to date with the latest news from Creatful, you can sign up on their website here:

Sandy Walker was a co-founder and leading influence in the direction and value of the Good Mental Health Coop.  She has started a new community interest company, Sanpau, with Paul Williams, and they have now moved into the Good Mental Health Coop office base at the Buckland United Reformed Church in Portsmouth.

Their programme of workshops is based on a similar philosophy to the Mental Wealth Academy programmes we ran previously – promoting creativity in different forms as a path to good mental health and wellbeing. Sanpau are keen to seek funding as well, and to work with other organisations in the city to deliver support accessible to all. 

To keep up to date with the latest news from Sanpau, you can sign up on their website here:

Sarah Haskett is a long standing partner involved in projects with the Good Mental Health Cooperative. Her enterprise is called Creative Mental Health, and she has hosted our Mental Wealth Academy workshops and courses as part of her website, as well as creating an online exhibition to showcase the work of our Stories of Asylum project. This online content will continue to be available, and Sarah also plans to redevelop the Books Alive! initiative in the future.

We’re delighted to let you know that Sarah is on maternity leave right now with her baby boy Jacob. However if you’d like to keep in the loop for when Sarah gets back to work, you can sign up to her website here:

The Good Mental Health Cooperative has now ceased trading as of 31 March 2024.

Discover Meaning and Values

“Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.” —Viktor Frankl

This is a quote from a psychiatrist called Viktor Frankl who wrote a book called Man’s Search for Meaning in 1946. He makes the case that those who deal best with the most challenging and difficult life circumstances are those who can find meaning and a sense of control over their environment. What makes his argument incredibly powerful is that he’s describing his own experience as a concentration camp inmate during the Second World War.

Reflections on Love, Loss and Covid 19

Waves of Loneliness

During the coronavirus outbreak we have all been through enormous change, and some of us are experiencing loss of different types. All of us have been affected one way or the other, through loss of personal freedoms, loss of income, loss of social connections, loss of health, loss of control, and sometimes the loss of someone we love.

The Mental Health Foundation says: 

“Whatever the loss, our mind and body will react to this change. Something or someone that was there before is no longer there. Something or someone we depended on as part of our lives has gone. There has been a change. This can shake our world, and how it does so, will depend on what has happened and what support we have in place to cope.” 

Spotlight on Carers

“An unpaid carer is anyone, including children and adults, who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support.”

Nationally, it is thought that 4.5 million additional people have taken on caring for older, disabled or seriously ill relatives or friends since the Covid-19 pandemic started.

Reasons to be Cheerful

Some of you may recall the late great Ian Drury. “Reasons To Be Cheerful, Pt. 3” was released by Stiff Records in 1979 and reached number 3 in the UK singles chart. The link takes you to an inspiring live performance with the Blockheads in 2010.

As 2020 comes to an end, there are indeed reasons to be cheerful, quite apart from the vaccines on the way. Its been a really tough year and next year will be even tougher for many people, but we’ve also seen waves of unprecedented compassion and courage which should be celebrated and valued in the future. Local communities have rallied to help people in need, whether through isolation, poor health, financial difficulties or bereavement. The pandemic has highlighted those essential services we depend on for a semblance of normality, and the courage of those who keep them going often at risk to themselves and their families. Not only hospital and health care staff, but also teachers and social care workers, supermarket workers, delivery people, factory and farm workers, hospitality and public transport workers.

Coping with a Covid Christmas

With the last minute restrictions on Christmas celebrations, perhaps this is a fitting end to a most extraordinary year. And 2021 promises to be another year of uncertainty and challenge. So I thought I’d share this very shortened version of an ancient Chinese parable to reflect on: 

History, health and hope

At the 11th hour of the 11th  day of the 11th month, the armistice was signed which formally ended hostilities of the First World War in 1918.  Remembrance Day is an opportunity to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts. Of course, the casualties that are often forgotten are those who experienced serious mental ill-health as a result of their military service, and also ordinary people caught up in traumatic events through these conflicts.

Never Give Up Hope

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come”
Anne Lamott

We’ve now reached another turning point in the Covid 19 pandemic with the re-introduction of further restrictions on close contact with others. So it seems timely to re-visit the idea of psychological resilience, and in particular the principle of hope.

Help Prevent Suicide!

At the weekend the University of Sheffield shared this series of 13 short films as part of their Festival of the Mind.

Based on the book Our Encounters with Suicide (ed. Fran Biley, Alex Grant, Judith Haire, Brendan Stone), Kathryn and Penny Capper’s films explore the impact of suicide in the wider community. Giving voice to diverse perspectives and experiences, the Suicide Monologues aims to challenge taboos and generate discussion around a complex subject that’s generally not talked about.

Time to Experiment with Change?

Among the many news and research updates I follow to try and keep myself up to date, is a national research programme seeking to understand the psychological and social impact of the Covid 19 pandemic. The research study is being carried out by University College London to explore the effects of the virus and social distancing measures on adults in the UK. Over 70,000 participants fill in a weekly survey to share their views and experiences.