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Coronavirus Advice Webinar 20 May - Mental health and social distancing 

We explored how we can support those whose mental health has suffered as a result of social distancing and the general climate of uncertainty, even of fear. Mental health services are harder to access and so we may find ourselves as individuals or churches called on to journey with those who are struggling. The webinar is a conversation between mental health chaplains Stuart and Nikki Jenkins, and Sarah Fegredo who runs a well-being cafe as part of her role as Baptist minister for Hugglescote Community Church. These discussions were set against a powerful and insightful recorded testimony from a Baptist Christian who suffers from depression and anxiety herself.
Mental health support for yourself
 If you are seeking support for your own mental health, please consider firstly contacting your GP. They remain open, so please do not think that will be ‘bothering them’ during lockdown by getting in touch. They are still the first place to go for help.
For more information about what will happen if you contact a GP or how you can get help for another person, please go to www.mind.org.uk
Mental health support for others
Someone who suffers from anxiety and depression has listed some simple ways by which others have helped them during lockdown. They are offered here not as a definitive list but to get us thinking of small, practical steps we can take to support others.  
  • Accessing church online – I can be there, but I can choose whether to put the camera on or not – there’s no pressure to speak. It gives some control in a world that feels out of control at the moment. 
  • Video calls like Facetime and Zoom remind me that people are still there – as long as it is understood that I don’t have to answer if I don’t feel able to. 
  • Texts with no pressure to reply – just knowing I am being thought of can break into the loneliness. Just say hello, or share an encouragement. 
  • Going old school and sending me a letter or card – it can be simple and just say hello.  
  • Leaving me a meal by my front door and texting me to let me know it’s there, so I can decide if I am up for seeing you. That wonderful action lets me know I have been thought of and not forgotten about. Plus, it really helps with trying to eat properly. 
  • Texts that tell me you are out walking past my house so I can at least wave from the window if I want to. 
  • An invitation to eat a meal together over Zoom. 
  • Having a purpose to my day helps, as long as I can say ‘no’ on a bad day. So I like it when I am asked to do something from my home and am given plenty of time to do it. It might be to proof-read the church newsletter; write cards to the elderly in the congregation; come up with a craft that the kids from church can do… things like this help give me value and purpose. 
  • It’s ok to ask me how I am as long as you accept that I might not be able to answer, as that is a huge question. So I guess it would be helpful to only ask it if you really are happy to receive the honest answer. 
  • Encouragement to keep a gratitude journal. You can check in every now and then with me to ask how it’s going.
  • Praying for me – for safety through this time, and the courage to not withdraw too much… but if I do, that I’ll have even more courage to reconnect when this is over. 
  • And lastly…but REALLY importantly…Don’t give up!  It’s hard to support someone with mental health difficulties, especially if you don’t get anything positive back.  Just please know that hanging in there with me is one of the most amazing things you can do because it completely goes against the negative thoughts I have of being no good and unlovable.  By simply being there and accepting me on the bad days as well as the good, you show a little bit of Jesus – shining a light in the darkness.
Renew Wellbeing 
If you are interested, once lockdown is relaxed further, in setting up a safe space for helping those hoping to manage their mental health, please see www.renewwellbeing.org.uk. The website gives you information about how churches can set up a Renew space and what resources and support are available.
Children, youth and family wellbeing resource links
 Young people can contact these organisations themselves and get access to phone support, text support, blogs, activities etc:
Young Minds

www.YoungMinds.org.uk Information, blogs and resources plus if you need urgent help text YM to 85258

www.kooth.com Online mental health and wellbeing community for young people with blogs, information, message boards, an online journal and a one-to-one messaging service
www.childline.org.uk/get-support/ Phone line, online discussion boards, games and activities
National Youth Agency
www.youthworksupport.co.uk/young-people/  A page full of links to all sorts of places
The Mix
www.themix.org.uk Online message board, chat and helpline
For families:
Your neighbour
www.yourneighbour.org  Various help during COVID including a helpline for 1-1 pastoral support. 

Young Minds
Runs a Parent helpline: 0808-802-5544 
For specific issues:
Eating disorders: 
Drugs and Alcohol:
www.autism.org.uk and www.autism.org.uk/services/helplines/coronavirus.aspx

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