This Saturday, 10 October marks World Mental Health Day 2020. COVID-19 has tried its best to separate us from the ones we love and from living a normal life, but what we’ve seen at Nextdoor is communities across the UK coming together to show that they are stronger than ever.
Mental health charity Mind’s latest research revealed that more than 60% of adults and over two thirds of young people (68%) felt their mental health deteriorated during the pandemic and lockdown, so encouraging conversations around our own mental health and that of others has never been more important.
We wanted to share with you an example of what a Nextdoor member in Glasgow has been doing to help her neighbours who might be struggling with mental health in her area. Meet Melissa Gillen, a Nextdoor Lead for her Oatlands neighbourhood, which is just south of the River Clyde.
Melissa has lived in the area for 30 years and works as a self-employed wellbeing practitioner and studies Community Development at Glasgow University, as well as training as a mindfulness teacher with Mindfulness Scotland. During her career and studying, she has met many people with mental health-related illnesses. She is passionate about helping those who are suffering and providing them with the tools they need to be able to cope. “I want to help people to help themeselves” says Melissa, “it’s now more important than ever to be connected with everything going on, we need real-life in-person human connection”
As it’s difficult to meet with one another indoors, Melissa decided to post on her Nextdoor feed to see if anybody would be interested to “meet up in Glasgow Green (local park) for some socially distanced walks, chats with a little bit of mindfulness practice thrown in”.
So as the lockdown eased, three times a week, free of charge, Melissa organised walks with her neighbours through Nextdoor. They would chat and take part in a mindfulness exercise where everyone would switch off their phones and the outside world, and concentrate on their wellbeing.
With Scotland going into further lockdown this week, the walks will be on hold for the time being until it’s safe to meet back up again. But in the short amount of time they were held, those that joined in were made aware that they weren’t alone and that there is support from their neighbours should they need it.
Melissa’s kindness and commitment to helping her local community make her a stellar example of a good neighbour and we hope her story will inspire members all over the UK. Whether it’s popping round to see an older neighbour for a coffee or simply saying hello to someone in the street, no gesture is too small.