After a challenging year, it’s more important than ever we recognise the important role nature plays in our lives.

Photo by Dimitry Anikin on Unsplash

The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘nature’. After a challenging year that has had huge impacts on many people’s mental health, two of our mental health workers have reflected on why nature is so important to mental health and how we can save space for nature in our busy lives.

Connecting to nature’s miracles can bring tremendous benefits

By Mark Peters

Connection to nature is fundamental to good mental health.

However, our busy lives keep us distracted from this in lots of different ways: the ever-pinging notifications on our phones demanding our attention to a screen, the concrete, tarmac and brick environments many of…

Diversionary schemes create better outcomes for young people and keep communities safer. Their time has come.

Photo by kevin laminto on Unsplash

By Jen Rushworth-Claeys, Head of Young Persons Service Delivery and Agnes Wootton, Contracts Manager — London and the South East

Diversion is a common sense approach that needs to be at the forefront of our thinking around young people in the criminal justice system for drug offences.

Between us we’ve worked in YP drug and alcohol services for nearly 15 years. We’ve seen first hand the ‘revolving door’ of low-level offending and short-term sentencing, and the disruption to treatment that it brings. We’ve seen the lost opportunities for engagement and support. …

After 6 years the Drink Wise Age Well programme is ending. These are the stories of people supported by the project.

Born in 2015, Drink Wise Age Well was a project, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, to support people over 50 to make healthier choices around alcohol. From training nearly 10,000 professionals to better supporting older adults, to holding 1,300 alcohol awareness workshops with people over 50, the programme has left a big imprint in communities across the UK.

But beyond the statistics, there are personal tales of lives changed and new chances. Here, four beneficiaries of the programme share their stories.

Alan: “I learnt a new language — a life without alcohol”

When my long term relationship broke down I ended up living alone in Glasgow. I started to…

With reforms to health and social care on the way, policymakers have a unique opportunity to embed and strengthen what we know works.

By Felicity Simpkin, Associate Director of New Business & Contract Retention

Commissioning health services is a complex task. How it is done, who is responsible for it, and how success is measured has changed many times in recent years. Navigating these changes in an era of long-term disinvestment and local variation in budget and service quality has been a big challenge for those who commission services.

Commissioning is also grappling with the impact of procurement processes that can undermine the success of the very services being delivered. Tendering can be resource intensive and lengthy, distracting from the day-to-day running and development of existing services. At its worst, this disruption can result…

Look beyond the celebrity and the singer’s traumatic childhood is very similar to many of the people I support

Image via YouTube.

By Adrian Riley, Team Leader at With You in North Somerset

On the surface, Demi Lovato’s story is a classic Hollywood tale. A child star who struggled growing up in the glare of the spotlight, she started using drugs as a way to cope, culminating in her much reported overdose in 2018.

A new four part documentary series released today explores the lead up and aftermath of Lovato’s overdose. While many people will struggle to identify with the exposure and stress of fame, not knowing what it’s like to be hounded by paparazzi or having your personal life splashed across the front pages doesn’t mean you can’t identify with Lovato’s story…

My work in Bournemouth over the last 12 months has highlighted to me that with concerted action homelessness isn’t inevitable.

Photo by Ben Sharples from Pexels.

By Iain Barnes, Recovery Worker (Outreach), With You in Bournemouth

Towards the end of last year, I was on an outreach shift when I came across a couple huddled together in a dingy stairwell. They were clearly in a bad way, the woman especially was dangerously thin and pale. I squatted down and started chatting to them, just simple stuff like asking their names and where they were from. Despite being on the streets and injecting they weren’t engaged with any services at the time. So, working together with St Mungos, we supported them to move into one of the hotels Bournemouth Council is using to house people experiencing homelessness…

Schools were our main way of reaching young people vulnerable to self harm. Since the pandemic, we’re finding new ways to support them.

Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash

By Sophie Beer, Service Manager of Mind and Body at With You in Kent.

It’s hard to imagine what life must be like for young people right now. They’re not seeing their friends or making new ones, they’re missing important life milestones, and they’re spending a lot more of their time alone. While it is too soon to say what the long term effects of this isolation will have, it’s fair to say it has been a tough year. According to a January report from Young Minds, 67% of young people believe the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health.

As service manager of With You’s Mind and Body programme…

Even during regular times our work is unique and challenging. COVID-19 has made it much tougher.

Richard Croft / Lincoln Prison / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Bev Ball, Service Manager at With You at Lincoln Prisons

Think about your experience of lockdown during the last 10 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now think about what your experience of lockdown would have been like if you lived in a 10 by 12 foot room with just a bed, a sink, a toilet and a small window.

This is the lived reality of the people I work with in my role providing drug and alcohol services at men’s prison HMP Lincoln.

People in prison are always in a version of lockdown. Even during a pandemic that has kept much of the UK in their homes I’ve found it’s…

I’m seeing more young people affected by their parent’s drug and alcohol use. We need to support these families through this difficult time.

Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas from Pexels.

By Alison Henderson, Family Worker at We Are With You in Lancashire

There is a passage in this year’s Booker Prize winning novel Shuggie Bain that really hits home. It’s a semi-autobiographical tale of a young boy growing up in Pithead in Glasgow with a mother who loves him and means well, but the hardship of her life leads her to take solace in ‘the drink’. At one point Shuggie returns from school and loiters outside, desperately looking for signs of whether his Mother has been on a binge before entering. The next morning he brings her a mug of warm beer when she wakes up to help quiet down ‘the shakes.’

Remote support has helped older adults with drinking issues during the pandemic but face to face is still key

By Dr Paulina Trevena, Researcher, Glasgow Caledonian University

After the death of his wife and an early retirement, 60-year-old John began to drink more than usual. Two years later he noticed that he couldn’t get out of bed without having a drink. After going through a specialist detox program John now feels in a very good place in his recovery. But at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak he thought “this could be the biggest test yet that I’ve faced” and decided to pour all of the alcohol he kept for guests down the sink. …

With You

We are one of the UK’s leading mental health, drug and alcohol charities. We provide free, confidential support with drugs, alcohol and mental health.

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