Washington Mind is a well-established local Charitable Incorporated Organisation who have been delivering mental health and wellbeing support since 1981. We are affiliated to national Mind and are one of around 130 Local Mind Associations across England and Wales, we are all independent charities and responsible for our own fundraising. We know that we are facing the greatest test of our mental health to date and mental healthcare providers like us are bracing themselves for its impact.
Our mission is to work in partnership with our community to promote recovery and improve mental health and wellbeing. We deliver a range of mental health support for people aged 11+ who are experiencing or are at risk of developing, mental ill health and/or emotional distress.
We moved to our current premises The Life House in June 2013, providing a much needed wellbeing resource centre for the community. The bigger premises enabled the organisation along with key partners to deliver a wider range of wellbeing services, develop new partnerships and provide a healthy environment for service users and our staff and volunteers to work in. Our support is built around choice and current activities include: information resources (including websites and digital resources), counselling, alternative therapies, telephone support, therapeutic group work, psycho-educational sessions, wellbeing activities, training and volunteering opportunities. We are one of the few BACP accredited services in the North East.
Genuine service involvement is at the heart of all that we do and we endeavour to challenge and reduce stigma and discrimination.
Our work helps to break down barriers for people accessing our services; we work to reduce discrimination around mental health issues and encourage more people to seek support. We host the Sunderland Time to change hub https://wellbeinginfo.org/about-us/sunderlandhub/ In normal circumstances we do a lot of work out and about in the community, we fundraised earlier in the year to purchase a campervan to make mental health mobile and reach the hard to reach. We can’t wait for restrictions to end so that we can use it at local events and engage with those people who wouldn’t feel able to approach a mental health service.
As we approach the build up to the Christmas holidays charites such as Washington Mind often see a very different side to the high street version of Christmas. People often contact us at the lowest point of their lives and this year we have all struggled more than most. Not all of us are surrounded by family and friends, with scrumptious food and presents galore. If you are your loved one are struggling with a mental health issue, if you have financial difficulties or are coping with bereavement joining in with the Christmas festivities can be just too much to bear. For tips on coping with Christmas, based on the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, click here.
This year our service user Christmas party will take place on online in order to keep everyone safe from 12pm until 2pm on Tuesday 29th December which will be available on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/washingtonmind.
If you live in Washington and your family has been affected by COVID and need extra support this Christmas, please email us at: [email protected]. Support includes:
- Wednesday 23rd December 2020
A Christmas Hamper will be delivered to your door including a £15 voucher to spend with local traders
- Tuesday 29th December 2020
Virtual Christmas Party
- Friday 15th January 2020
You will receive an afternoon tea either at The Life House or delivered to your door.
Please note that The Life House (and Washington Mind) will close on Wednesday 23rd December 2020 at 5pm, with phone lines closing at 2pm, for the festive period and we will reopen on Monday 4th January 2021 at 9am for business as usual.
What’s been happening at Washington Mind since lockdown:
Coronavirus is dominating headlines around the world. While the media focus is on the impact on people’s physical health and what’s being done to prevent the spread of the disease; anxiety about the virus can also have an impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing. Several organisations have released useful articles to help you look after yourself during this time, which include helpful and practical tips to help you with everyday life visit: https://wellbeinginfo.org/coronavirus-mental-health-and-wellbeing/ for more info:
- Washington Mind have followed the NHS’s guidance on how we should be responding to Coronavirus. In the light of this advice, we decided that, as in March we should suspend providing all face-to-face services to people, including all Life House groups and activities. We did try to stay open to the public as long as possible because we know Washington Mind is a lifeline to some people, especially those who are very socially isolated.
- Since then we have offered support via the telephone, text and online support through email and our social media platforms. All staff are currently working from home and have collectively dealt with over 80,000 enquiries since the end of March 2020.
- We re-started face to face work in July working in team ‘bubbles’ and adhering to guidelines around social distancing, face masks and handwashing/sanitising.
- Our telephone lines have remained open on our usual number 0191 4178043 (manned by staff home working) we are responding to requests for support and signposting to appropriate support e.g. food deliveries.
- We launched a new Live Chat and this online chat service is available between the hours of 2pm till 4pm weekdays. Visit: https://www.washingtonmind.org.uk/live-chat/ to find out more.
- The take up for telephone support seems to have been very well received with counsellors continuing to meet their target through telephone counselling support. Adult Counselling Team currently shows an average of 80% take up for telephone support across the team.
- All new referrals are being assigned a care coordinator, whereby the client will be offered regular telephone check in support if needed whilst on the waiting list
- Social support service users are also being supported by face to face group work and telephone. Additional groups via social media are working very well (over 140 members on the social support group) doing activities on line such as quizzes/arts& crafts/quizzes/exercise/film and book clubs.
- Our Young Peoples Project are working with partners to offer online groups. ‘Let Out the Noise’ singing group, You’re Not Alone and Rainbow Renegades. Washington Mind blog and creative space is available, as well as our zine, and soon to be launched mental health zine library. The Young People’s team are now back in schools and offering outreach work.
- We have delivered training sessions virtually and have some short videos available for workplaces until we are able to get back to face to face training. We have been able to use the time to design and develop new training including a new approach to working with grief. We know that complicated grief is a real issue given the losses people have faced in this pandemic, especially where they have not been able to be with loved ones.
- We know suicide is on the increase and on Suicide prevention Day (September 10th) we launched ‘Rays corner’ an area of our building that anyone struggling with their mental health can come in and get information about support and crisis services. We would love to see other ‘corners’ across the City. The social media posts reached over 34,000 people on WSPD with our Ray’s Corner post reaching over 22,300 people
- In November, we shared our new Reasons2 app update. Version2 of the app provides new and updated features and an improved way of navigation to help you manage your wellbeing. Covid-19 and lockdown can affect our mental health and wellbeing. That’s why we’ve updated the app to bring you one, positive place, one click away where you can log your Reasons2; smile, feel better, keep going, get out of bed, live. Visit your device’s app store to download or update today, or visit: wellbeinginfo.org/reasons2 to find out more
- Our regional website wellbeinginfo.org has welcomed almost 80,000 unique visitors since the end of March 2020 who have been able to access up to date, reliable information on health and wellbeing. Our Coronavirus page continues to update as information becomes available. Through this we are sharing information on; Changes to services, dangers of misinformation and how to avoid sharing it. Looking after your mental health and wellbeing, keeping up with government and NHS advice, Information from local Councils and more. Full details are available on the page: https://wellbeinginfo.org/self-help/corona-virus-updates-and-advice/