By Naomi Hayes, Community Mission Manager (mental wellbeing)
Mental wellbeing is a key part of our vision of ‘Co-operating for a Fairer World’ and together with our partners Mind, SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) and Inspire, we’re bringing communities together to support mental wellbeing.
Our new research, Together Through Tough Times launched last week, shows the vital role of communities in supporting mental wellbeing, with networks of people and hubs creating strong community resilience, which in turn creates the conditions where both individuals and communities can prosper.
The research identified four themes for how community supports mental wellbeing:
- a strong network of community hubs and voluntary sector organisations
- open environments to talk about mental health and wellbeing
- opportunities to actively participate and make connections in communities
- a sense of community identity and belonging
The research also found that some groups have less access to the protective factors these themes provide and are at risk of being left behind, these groups included young people, ethnic minority communities and those living in poverty.
In addition, over a third of people agreed they didn’t have the tools to deal with the ‘ups and downs of life’ such as stress, pressure or difficult circumstances, with 8 in 10 saying that support in the community such as having spaces to talk, activities and services would help them.
The research also revealed the impact the pandemic has had on the nation’s mental wellbeing. Almost a quarter of respondents said they became more isolated from their community during the pandemic, resulting in a decline in mental wellbeing for almost two-thirds of those feeling isolated. Overall, just under a fifth of the population (10.6 million people) described their current mental wellbeing as poor, rising to almost three in ten amongst 16 to 24-year olds.
How we’re supporting mental wellbeing
Thanks to the amazing efforts of our colleagues, customers and members we have raised £6m of our £8m target for our partnership with Mind, SAMH and Inspire. We’re funding new mental wellbeing services in over 50 local communities across the UK that will help at least 10,000 people. These services draw on local community networks and many support young people in response to the findings of our research.
In addition, alongside Mind, SAMH and Inspire, we’re calling on governments across the UK to recognise the importance of community resilience in post-pandemic recovery policy making, and beyond.
If you need support or know someone who does
As a colleague, there’s so much support available to you for your wellbeing; from counselling with our provider Lifeworks available 24/7, to GP services via our partner Smart Health for you and your family. To find out more about the resources available click here.
Even a small improvement to your wellbeing can help you better manage your mental health. Download our ‘Be kind to your mind’ guide for ways to support your own and others mental wellbeing at coop.co.uk/charitypartnership.
As the research shows, helping others can have a positive impact on your own wellbeing. You can find things to do and groups in your area to support at coop.co.uk/mental-wellbeing.