For over 100 years, Buckinghamshire Mind has been a trusted charity working to support and represent people with mental health problems living across the county.
Where is your organisation based/what areas do you support?
We provide mental health services throughout Buckinghamshire and East Berkshire, with offices in Aylesbury, High Wycombe and Chesham. Services we offer include:
- Wellbeing and Peer Support Groups
- Older Adults’ Services
- Employment Support
- Counselling for Adults
- Suicide Bereavement Support
- Peer Support in Schools
- Education for Children and Young People
- Outreach Services in partnership with the NHS
- Training for companies and community groups
- Time to Change, a campaign to tackle mental health stigma.
What difference do you make to your clients/ services users?
Buckinghamshire Mind’s mission is to ensure that everyone in our community, with a mental health problem, gets the support they need. The services we provide are thoughtfully designed to create friendly, non-judgemental, and inclusive environments for our service users. Our priority is to reduce isolation, provide structured, mindful activities whilst building our participants’ confidence and self-esteem.
We believe in our service users’ recovery and are hopeful about their futures. We will not give up until everyone in our community with a mental health problem gets both the support they need and the respect they deserve.
How has the Covid19 pandemic affected/impacted your organisation?
As with most organisations, the current pandemic has had a significant impact on Buckinghamshire Mind. As an organisation, we have been put under considerable pressure from how to continue to run our services (as many of them take place in-person) to financial pressures on our funding streams.
We know it may be some time before ‘normal’ services are able to resume, however, Buckinghamshire Mind has been creative and adaptable with our approach during this challenging time. Our colleagues and volunteers have come together and have been instrumental in pushing forward with necessary change – collaboratively, collectively and positively.
Where possible, Buckinghamshire Mind worked hard to adapt and “reimagine” our services to ensure that we were able to rapidly offer remote versions of our services. We have been able to maintain contact with and support the users of our services and the community through befriending, employment support, peer support groups, outreach, perinatal, Safe-Haven crisis support and signposting, suicide bereavement support, counselling for adults and supporting children and young people via Buckinghamshire schools.
These mental health support services are taking form in the one-to-one phone and video calls, newsletters, social media closed groups, virtual activities, YouTube videos and posted care packages.
Our biggest challenge as a local mental health charity was how to ensure all our service members would remain supported and connected while working within the evolving Government social distancing and then lockdown measures and guidelines.
As a small charity that exists to give those managing a mental health challenge the help and support they need (no matter what the barriers), it became our mission to rapidly adapt our services to ensure we provide vital ongoing support and care.
We have endeavoured to keep true to our values, and as such have involved our service users in all the major changes that have had to take place.
How has the Covid19 pandemic affected the people you support?
We know many of the activities our service users’ access to keep well may no longer be available to them. Alongside this, the risk factors including isolation, financial concerns, job insecurity, family challenges and housing worries are increasing for some. As lockdown continues, some of our service users are reporting increased anxiety and depression or difficulties managing mental health conditions.
Buckinghamshire Mind are in regular contact with our service users, either one to one over the phone/video, through social media group and via care packages and emails. The feedback from all our service users is that this continued and regular contact from Buckinghamshire Mind has made a significant positive impact on helping to maintain positive mental health and feel less isolated.
We are pleased to have been able to continue our Safe Haven mental health crisis support, (although remotely by phone and video) 7 nights a week, offering further support for our service users and the wider Buckinghamshire community.