People with experience of mental health recovery can help support the community as it bounces back from Covid-19
People with experience of mental health recovery have vast knowledge and skills that can help the wider public stay well during these challenging times, a new report has shown.
This is one of the key messages to come out of the recently published Staying Connected resources from the Scottish Recovery Network.
The Staying Connected report, podcast and animation are based on discussions from 12 online conversation cafés. The cafés, facilitated by the Scottish Recovery Network, brought people together, particularly those living with mental health challenges, to discuss their experiences and ideas on staying well during and after lockdown. Feedback from participants highlighted that many people have been able to draw on their experiences of mental health challenges and recovery to support not only their own wellbeing but that of others.
One participant said: “Those of us who have been through dark times and embraced skills and tools to support / manage could be of great support to others during / following this period.”
The Staying Connected resources outline many of the shared ideas, approaches and tools that people are using. As well as accessing, where possible, NHS mental health services, the majority of support and engagement opportunities mentioned are being provided by the third sector, online or in communities. This emphasises a need for a shift in thinking around how we develop and access mental health and wellbeing support as we start to build back better.
In particular, connections – to people, pets, work roles, nature and wellbeing activities – and how these are maintained underpinned much of the discussion. Peer support and sharing experiences through digital or telephone were also cited as being incredibly important to sustaining good mental health. It was hoped that these alternatives would continue to be provided alongside, but not in place of, face to face support in the future.
Louise Christie, acting director of the Scottish Recovery Network, said: “Conversation café participants were unanimous in describing the Covid-19 lockdown as a challenging period, but one where there had also been positives to hold onto. They were also keen that this experience will result in change and a better society, particularly one where good mental health and wellbeing is a priority for all. To make this a reality we will need to draw on all the expertise we have available, including lived experience.
“Scottish Recovery Network will continue to bring people together to discuss their experiences as the lockdown eases and to share their reflections and learning more widely to influence policy and practice.
“We hope these resources will be used by others to encourage conversations and action around what people in Scotland want and need to stay well.”