Community of Practice Projects Shine this Mental Health Awareness Week

This mental health awareness week, local NHS Trust, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership (CWP) are raising awareness of the importance of good mental health and reaching out when you need support.

As part of the NHS Long Term Plan commitment to improving community mental health services, the NHS has joined together with Social Care, and the Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise (VCFSE) sectors in Cheshire and Wirral to form the Community Wellbeing Alliance.

One of the top priorities for the Alliance is improving access to wider practical support in the community to tackle issues which contribute to poor mental health including loneliness, support with welfare issues and improving physical health and fitness.

CWP medical director, Dr Anushta Sivananthan, said: “For most people with severe mental illness, the diagnosed problem isn’t all they need or want help with. People need mental health services that go beyond symptoms and illnesses, that sees the person rather than the  diagnosis; and that everyone works together to promote wellbeing.”

“Through the Alliance, I’m delighted that we’ve been able to fund 15 additional community projects across Cheshire and Wirral to really get the root of some of the issues that contribute to  poor mental health, including loneliness. Loneliness ,which is the theme for this year’s mental health awareness week, impacts millions of people in the UK.  Research has found  loneliness has sadly  increased  due to  the COVID pandemic.”

In Cheshire, one of the projects is being run by local third sector organisation, Bridge Community Wellness gardens in Ellesmere Port. ‘Growing Better Lives’, aims to recruit a number of people into work placements in both the gardens and the café, providing an opportunity for personal development and skills and confidence building.

Clair Johnson, general manager, Bridge community farms said: “At Bridge Wellness gardens we encourage outdoor therapies and alternative therapies for dealing with mental health issues. Outdoor activity in a safe, friendly, family environment is so beneficial. Our holistic approach to mental health has proven to be successful. Mediation, mindfulness, relaxation along with breathing exercises help to calm moods, lift spirits and teach coping mechanisms.

Another one of the projects in Macclesfield is being run by Reach Out and Recover (ROAR) who have already seen a vast improvement in people’s mental health and social connection through their work. They work with groups and individuals to help them connect with others to build a sense of self-worth and share positive experiences.

Dr Sivananthan continues: “The Cheshire and Wirral Community Wellbeing Alliance is committed to widening access to mental health support. Early intervention is just as important for mental health as it is for physical health conditions, so please reach out if you or a loved one are struggling.

“If your mental health has quickly gets worse, this can be called a mental health crisis. Our urgent mental health helpline is open 24 hours, 7 days a week and is open to people of all ages – including children and young people. Please call 0800 145 6485 and our dedicated local staff will support you to access the help you need.”