What does 2022 hold in store?

Could this be a year when we really get to grips with what is meant by mentally healthy communities? In the past two years, the experience of the Covid pandemic has surely highlighted the importance of neighbourliness, kindness, community action and social cohesion for our collective mental health. It has also exacerbated the impact of already existing social problems such as poverty, homelessness, domestic abuse and social care support for those living with illness, disabilities and emotional distress.

An overwhelming issue experienced by many is that of loneliness and isolation, especially when dealing with any of these social problems. The Mental Health Foundation has identified loneliness as the theme for this years Mental Health Awareness week in May, and reducing social isolation has to be one of the major steps towards a mentally healthy society.

Social connections are hugely important for our mental health, but its also possible to feel lonely even in the company of others especially when struggling with difficult circumstances or feelings. Sometimes loneliness can be eased simply through more social contact, other times its more about seeking an understanding from others, perhaps those who have experience of similar issues.

There is another less obvious prescription – that of using creativity to reduce your sense of isolation. As Martha Beck wrote:

“In the face of great sorrow or joy, love or loss, many human beings who went before me learned to express themselves sublimely through clumsy physical things: paint, clay, words, the movement of their bodies.”  

https://marthabeck.com/2012/11/when-you-feel-lonely

She advises us to seek art in any time or place, in any form, to connect with our deepest feelings, to find solace or inspiration, comfort or joy. Offering more opportunities for people to be creative in the broadest sense has always been a core mission for the Good Mental Health Cooperative, and in 2022 this takes on even more significance as we collectively seek to recover from the pandemic.

I’m not a great fan of New Year resolutions but for 2022 our aim is to help rebuild mentally healthy communities through social connection and creativity, and reduce loneliness and isolation where-ever possible.

If you’d like to help us with this aim, please do fill in this survey which we’ve been promoting for the last couple of months.

All best wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year!

More funding to continue Nexus Project

Great news from National Lottery Awards for All who have agreed to fund the continuation of our successful Nexus Project offering women support and wellbeing through creativity.

The project was initially funded through the Tampon Tax but delayed due to lockdowns, and eventually got started in May this year on zoom. In July, the group moved to a lovely spacious room at the Buckland United Reformed Church in Portsmouth, and has been meeting weekly since September going from strength to strength.

Creative activities have included collage, vision boards, free style drawing, leaf and pebble painting, macrame, music and photography, all provided by community artists. No artistic talent is needed, these are all activities that anyone can join in with and have fun.

We’re continuing to meet weekly until 7 December, and then will be back in action on Tuesday 11 January, thanks to Awards for All! You can join in-person or via zoom, and can just turn up to see what’s going on..

To receive regular updates on activities planned for the Nexus Project, you can register your interest via this webpage or ring 023 9310 6042.

In person and zoom involvement
Leaf painting

November events with Solent Connexions

Just Reach Out, art from Claire Holloway

If you’re concerned about an adult family member or friend because of illness, disability or emotional distress, you might be interested in one or more of these events coming up in November. Solent Connexions offers flexible online support with community chat, information about rights and resources, access to free creativity and wellbeing courses, and opportunities for 1-1 support. Why not join us?

Monday 1st November – online drop-in event with Sarah Haskett, from 6.45 – 7.45pm. An opportunity to ask questions, share your concerns, find out more about the support available. Click here to register your interest and you’ll receive an email with the online link:

Thursday 4 November – live event at Gosport Voluntary Action from 2-4pm to introduce Solent Connexions and other local support available. Click here for more information and to register your interest.

Wednesday 10 November – live event at Leigh Park Community Centre in Havant, from 1-3pm, again to introduce Solent Connexions and other local support. Click here for more information and to register your interest.

For both these events, you can join us in-person or via Zoom.

Friday 26 November – online drop-in event with Sarah Haskett, from 11am -12noon, as above. Click here to register your interest and you’ll receive an email with the online link.

October events for Solent Connexions

Do you look after or help support a family member, partner or friend because of their illness, disability or emotional distress? Are you feeling stressed, depressed or worried about this?

Why not join us during October for one of our weekly events to find out more about what kind of support Solent Connexions can offer?

Stories of Asylum Exhibition

Join us at Gosport Heritage Open Days for an exhibition about how mental health care in Hampshire developed over the last century, based on research and memory sharing by local volunteers. You can also access a virtual exhibition that focuses on stories of local mental health care during WW1

Help improve mental health services in Portsmouth

Creativity and wellbeing for women

“Why should we all use our creative power……?  Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money” 
Brenda Ueland.

The Nexus Project is a new creative and wellbeing group for women, set up in partnership with the Independence and Wellbeing Team at Portsmouth City Council, and funded through the Tampon Tax Fund.

Caring Thru Covid

Do you know someone who looks after or supports a family member, partner or friend because of their illness, disability or emotional distress? Are they feeling stressed, worried or depressed about this?

Find out more at our online event on Monday 17 May at 11.30am

Join us online to find out more about Solent Connexions. Backed by Solent NHS Trust, this new virtual initiative is offering a dedicated online space where those who are looking after or supporting someone else can find support themselves with their own mental health and wellbeing. There’s befriending support via Zoom or telephone, group support sessions, and 1-1 sessions.

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.”