Today is World Mental Health Day. In the UK, one in four of us will deal with a mental health problem each year. However, despite this being a widespread issue many people are suffering in silence and as a result are feeling more and more isolated and alone.
Sometimes, the biggest hurdle is opening up and speaking about how you are feeling, as well as finding people you can connect with who may be feeling the same way. That’s why we found Angela’s story particularly inspiring and as a result why we have chosen to award her with our Good Neighbour Award 2018.
Perhaps you know someone who could use a little help? If so, we hope Angela’s resourcefulness and courage can inspire you too.
Angela’s anxiety and panic attacks begun in February 2014, however it took close to a year to receive a proper diagnosis and then came the struggle to find support and resources nearby to her home in Cumbernauld. This is when Angela began her campaign to improve mental health awareness and support, which began with lobbying Parliament on improving the standard of mental health treatment and diagnosis in Scotland.
Angela courageously decided to take matters into her own hands; if there wasn’t an accessible support network in her hometown, then she would create one and with that Peace of Mind was born.
Seeking advice from a local Councillor, Angela was able to apply for a grant to help her get the support group up and running.
When she received a postcard invitation through her letterbox inviting her to Nextdoor, she knew it would be the perfect place to reach out to those in her community looking for help and support.
Nextdoor made it really easy for her to connect with her neighbours and share her local help group to the community. Now she posts regular updates about the drop in sessions, shares useful information and advice as well as polling local residents to find out their opinions and concerns on mental health resources in the area.
With mental health struggles of her own, Angela knew what type of environment she wanted the group to be. She wanted the group to be a warm, welcoming and inclusive space, where no one would feel judged. A safe place where individuals, couples, families and carers could come together to share their experiences and gain support from one another.
Other groups have strict attendance policies but with Peace of Mind, Angela recognised the need of flexibility. Drop-in sessions helps to eliminate any underlying worries of having to commit to weekly sessions and allows members to be in control of the sessions and on their own terms.
Angela also recognised the role of fun and laugher in improving her own mental health and so decided activities would be a great way to instil this into the sessions for the benefit of the other members.So far they have enjoyed a variety of activities that have no only helped them to learn new skills but to also form new and strong connections with one another.
Angela’s support group has been invaluable to those who attend. It has provided a safe space for people to open up and share how they are feeling with people who understand and care. For one member it has given purpose back to their life and for another it provided the opportunity to bring their partner along so they could better understand mental health issues.
Angela truly deserves the recognition of being a Nextdoor Good Neighbour Award Winner. Speaking out about your own mental health is hard and can be a daunting experience, however Angela’s courageous actions have inspired others to have the strength to share their mental health struggles. We couldn’t be more in awe of Angela’s incredible story and journey.
Angela is the third profile in our Good Neighbour Award series and we hope her story will inspire neighbours across the UK to use Nextdoor in new ways to bring people together and make a difference to people’s lives. Keep an eye on our blog to read about the two remaining winners.
Don’t forget, if you have a good neighbour story to share with us then we would love to hear from you.