09 Dec 2013
A project to support people with mental health problems from the deprived White City estate has been praised by participants.
The social inclusion project, which is a joint initiative between West London Mental Health NHS Trust (WLMHT) and local charity Opportunity for All, uses group sessions to help people build confidence and learn coping skills.
Jennifer Chigwende, a psychological wellbeing practitioner from WLMHT, said: “We were delighted to get involved because it took us out into one of the most deprived areas of the borough, where the residents, many of whom are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, don’t traditionally engage with mental health services. Stigma, poverty, and a lack of understanding have prevented them from getting help.
“We launched the sessions with half an hour of zumba, to get everyone working together and added to the sessions with advice on housing and financial issues, which had been causing residents a great deal of stress. Through techniques such as relaxation, mindfulness, thought challenging or increasing activity we’ve seen people working together to build their self-confidence and equip them with tools to help them cope better in the future.”
One person who used the group said: “I didn’t know where to get help. Now I have the information and have found someone to listen to me. Sometimes when you are stressed or depressed, you feel that you need medication or to smoke or drink something. This group teaches us to deal with our problems through talking.”
A key part of the success of the group is the co-production approach, which means that people in the group decide what they want to be included and help to plan sessions with staff. This project, which is supported by the local public health services, has now received funding to continue and the next group is due to start in September.