This week Theresa*, who is one of our Futures in Mind volunteers, has written the following blog. She manages her bipolar and anxiety issues and wants people to realise that things are still possible even when dealing with mental health problems. Here, she talks about the various services and activities that are available in the local community which may be helpful to you if you are experiencing poor mental health, loneliness or low mood.
“Finding things to do when you feel like you have hit rock bottom, lack self-esteem and confidence, and find no joy in anything (even activities that you may have enjoyed in the past) is so overwhelming and daunting that many do not know where to begin.
It takes energy and research when, like me, your brain may feel like it has been scrambled. At one point, making a cup of coffee myself was a challenge.
Thankfully with time and being around supportive non-judgmental people, I am now in the position to outline a few activities that will help you make more friends, including ones that have experienced similar issues, in a friendly environment for a modest outlay.
Mid and North East Essex Mind and Phoenix Futures have partnered up to offer a service called ‘Futures in Mind’ which organises several “Welcome Cafes” which charge £1 or under for refillable cup of tea or coffee – often cakes and sweets too – for a couple of hours. If you feel that going on your own would cause you too much anxiety, Futures in Mind offer a befriending service whereby your befriender, who is matched up with you based on similar personalities and outlook, can go with you. However, as there is a heavy demand for this service due to the increasing number of people who feel isolated and lonely, it may take several months to allocate you a “befriender” but many feel it is worth the wait.
The Welcome Cafes are also staffed by Futures in Mind employees and volunteers who will take time to sit down and chat when they spot a new face. We all know that talking about your problems with someone who is willing to listen and not judge can make a great difference to our feelings of self-worth.
However, if you do not feel up to talking, it may just be pleasant to have people around you in a relaxed setting. There are newspapers to read and many take reading books or adult colouring books to take the focus away from their problems.
There are several Welcome Cafes – one meeting actually takes place in a Pub in Manningtree (everyone drinks sensibly of course)!
These are known as peer-led activities and the full details can be found on the Futures in Mind Website:
A few Welcome Cafes include (held weekly apart from UK holidays, which are advertised in advance):
- Brightlingsea – Tuesday 11am – 12.30pm, Brightlingsea Community Centre
- Clacton – Monday 2pm – 4pm, Salvation Army Cafe
- Colchester – Friday 1pm – 3pm, Quaker Meeting House
- Harwich – Thursday 11am, The Park Pavillion
- Manningtree – Thursday 11am – 12pm, The Crown Pub
For young people and parents there are two additional groups:
- Butterflies with Barnardo’s Parent’s Group – Wednesday 1.30pm – 2.30pm, Monkwick, Colchester
- Young People’s Cafe – First and Third Tuesday in the month, 2pm – 4pm, Firstsite, Colchester
Other social activities:
Mid and North East Essex Mind’s STaR team offer a Support and Friendship Group which meets every 2nd and 4th Tuesday from 2-4pm at the Minories High Street Colchester. You don’t have to be a service-user to come along to the group.
For further details please telephone 01206 764600.
Walking and Exercise:
Many know that exercise is helpful to relieve stress and moderate depression. Under the Outdoors section in Peer-led activities on the Futures in Mind website, there is information about several walk and talks offered throughout Essex for example in Colchester, Clacton and Harwich. These take place once a month and there is no charge.
You don’t have to be a fast walker – a wheelchair is available, and the group walks at the pace of the slowest member. Walks in nature can be especially beneficial – the Colchester walk runs through the Castle Park and there is a Clacton walk along the beach.
There are also several health walks which take place at Highwoods Country Park every other week:
Futures in Mind runs boxing sessions located under the sports section of peer led activities:
There are also various craft groups around the Essex area in the peer-led activities section.
Culture – Colchester Library – Feel better with a book:
The library is a peaceful environment; it has a café inside run by friendly staff. There is a book group which meets Friday morning every week apart from a few holidays such as Christmas and Easter. You are not under pressure to read in advance, unlike other book groups. It is very informal and you can turn up as and when you feel like it to read the short story and/or poem.
There is no cost and further details are provided on the web link below:
Silver Screen at the Odeon Cinema – for people aged 55 and over, which currently costs £3 on Tuesday and Thursdays for a coffee and film. Bargain! These screenings do not run in school holidays though.
For further details follow this link:
Lifelong learning is a key ingredient to mental wellbeing and there are free lifestyle courses available at ACL, previously known as the Wilson Marriage Centre:
There are other courses which are free or at a reduced rate if you are on benefits. It is beneficial to meet other people who may be experiencing similar issues as yourself as lack of confidence or difficulty in dealing with anxiety. If you search the web there is a host of free online courses available too.
For general things to do in and around Colchester such as events in the Castle Park, information about art galleries and museums, I suggest visiting:
Essex days out also is a useful site which provides details of beaches around the area for example:
As you can see, once you get going you are spoilt for choice!”
*Name has been anonymised