Mental Health Awareness Week – Effects of COVID-19

With it being mental health awareness week, we took the time to catch up with Angela from local charity ‘What’s Behind the Smile’ to find out what challenges they’ve encountered through the coronavirus pandemic…

Whats Behind The Smile Logo

‘What’s Behind the Smile’ has been born from tragedy and the need to address mental health awareness. The purpose of this charity is to offer help to those suffering mental health anguish. We want to help others. We want to make a difference.

Alongside our 24hr helpline, ‘What’s Behind the Smile’ provides a range of first aid training courses to encourage others to help to look for signs; to look out for others and let them know someone cares.

COVID-19 has been devastating for some people. When all of the establishments closed down for us this was tragic, our self-help groups were well established and attended.

Not only were the groups stopped but all face to face contact with the rugby clubs, their members, and the general public ceased.

What adaptations have you put in place to ensure the charity still provides the support needed.

We have taken the self-help group on-line. We now do a weekly group on a Monday evening 7-8pm. This has also been promoted to everyone as initially the focus was on men’s mental health and suicide prevention. Our counselling service is both on line and through telephony consultations. Face to face consultations can be done through zoom or Skype. Our computer skills are progressing very well so will not be beaten.

We have also taken Mental Health First Aid Training to an on-line service. We offer shorter interactive groups and sessions available through the Mental Health First Aid England platform. This is available to anyone who would like the training. The information is on our website and media pages.

Have you seen an increase in people needing help through the crisis?

Sadly, we have seen a huge increase in the need for the provision. Not only through the weekly meeting but with the 24 hr helpline. People are reaching out because they are lonely, worried and afraid of the unknown. Our media site contact has risen, more people are looking out to help each other any way they can.

There are lots of positives to take from the lockdown…people are showing how much they care about each other. People are helping others, standing up for each other, supporting causes and realising there is a world with us all in it and how wonderful it is to care…

Have your funding opportunities been impacted or affected by the need to social distance?

Yes, all of the funding opportunities we had in place have gone. We rely on fund raising to support the cost of counselling and the ability to offer free places on the Mental Health First Aid Training.

We need funding for the 24hr help line and of course to keep What’s Behind the Smile going.

What advice would you give to anyone reading this who is currently suffering?

COVID-19 affects us all. What’s Behind the Smile is here for everyone so please reach out to us. In the darkest of times, we promise to bring you hope.

You are not alone.

We're going to do our bit to help

After speaking with Angela and understanding the struggles that not only the people they help are going through, but also the ones they are encountering as result of COVID-19 – especially with fundraising.

That’s why we’ve decided that next week, as a team, we’re going to be completing a series of ‘keep fit and active’ challenges – 1 per day – in order to promote how keeping fit can support your mental health.

A full update will follow over the weekend, but at the end of the week we will be making our own donation to What’s Behind the Smile in order to support the great work they do! We’ll also be tagging other local businesses in the hope that they will get involved and help provide the additional support that is required.

To discuss your project needs get in touch with our team today

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