Members of Headspace Bolton CIC's 'Headspace Comedy Collective' project record their monthly podcast.

This month, we’re highlighting how projects we fund are supporting the mental health of local residents.

Many people find that January can really challenge their mental health.

People living in areas experiencing disadvantage are significantly more likely to experience mental health issues. At the Trust, many of the projects we fund enable groups of people who have shared experiences, characteristics or common interests to come together and address health inequalities by taking action on issues that are important to them. During January, some projects funded by People’s Health Trust are encouraging people affected by their mental health to come together and share their experiences.

Shettleston Men’s Shed, is a project based in Glasgow offering a men’s shed facility for mainly retired men and younger men unable to work. It supports men in Shettleston and the surrounding area to take part in positive activities, regain a purpose in life, combat loneliness, and address physical and mental health issues. They are aware of the difficulties their members face during this month. Chairman of the project, Willie Smillie said “January is always a long dark month after the brightness of the Christmas festivities and I’m hoping some of the activities we do will alleviate some of the dull days.”

The project will be organising a weekly film show in the Shed for January to get all the members together and enjoying themselves – if they can agree on a genre! They’ll also be celebrating Burns Night on 25th January liaising with the local college for a Burns supper.

Willie said, “We set up to combat isolation in our community and we soon learned that loneliness and mental health issues go hand in hand for various reasons; losing a loved one, redundancy, divorce and ill health among others.

Some of our members have been referred by local health professionals or social work department who feel that the Men’s Shed can help them. We have witnessed the effect it has had and most of our members have benefited from attendance at the Shed.”

The Woodland Year, is a rapidly growing project run by Athelas CIC, based in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. It organises a programme of activities for adults with mental health issues, with members meeting in local woodland on a weekly basis to learn new skills and take part in different activities depending on the time of year. This could be anything from building habitat areas, planting trees or weaving baskets from willow.

Jennifer Scot, Project Coordinator said, “The benefits of participating in these activities are vast; improving your mood, reducing feelings of stress or anxiety, improving physical wellbeing, increasing confidence and self-esteem and helping to make stronger connections both with yourself and others.”

They are also involved with the local Recovery College to promote the programme on 'Blue Monday'.

Jennifer said, “We are really excited about this programme as we know it will be beneficial to the people of Wakefield.”

In the North West, Headspace Bolton’s Headspace Community Collective project is using peer led creativity to change the narrative of mental illness. During January, they’ll be hosting comedy improv sessions, which have already proved to be a huge success, as well as continuing to record episodes of their weekly comedy podcast. Comedy sketch writing and music sessions are all also on the agenda as well as musical theatre and spoken word courses.

Project Coordinator Ginny Allende said “Comedy is a really powerful way to talk about mental health issues. Members find taking part empowering as they are in control and can laugh about issues. We are also finding that when we work with other comedians, they are opening up about their own mental health.”

Stephen Pilling, Director of Headspace Bolton added, “As a peer with lived experience of mental health, I can definitely confirm that January is a difficult month. At Headspace we focus on getting back into creating art and content as soon as possible. In my experience getting back to the art forms and projects that people love, as well as working creatively with others, helps everyone to get back into the rhythm of the New Year after the festive period.”

To find out more about Mental Health resources this month, click here.

Are you planning to do something to support Mental Health this month? If so, we would love to hear from you. To send us your pictures and stories, click here.

To read more news from the Trust, click here.

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