We should look after our mental wellbeing over Christmas. Whilst the festive season is a joyous time, it can also be difficult and affect our mental health in lots of different ways.
Crisis mental health and wellbeing support
To encourage people to reach out for support if they are struggling to cope, local providers across Sussex have joined forces to promote free crisis mental health and wellbeing support available – ranging from walk-in face to face support, text, and phone support. In addition, local organisations in West Sussex are providing free Christmas meals. Details of support is shared on local care, support and housing provider, Southdown’s website here. In addition, useful online resources across Sussex include the East Sussex Mental Health Directory of Community Support, West Sussex Pathfinder and UOK Brighton & Hove.
“There are still so many people who feel unable to seek help when they are experiencing issues with how they are feeling.”
Neil Blanchard, Chief Executive at Sussex not-for-profit, care, support and housing provider, Southdown, says:
“Despite the many mental health support organisations across Brighton and Hove, there are still so many people who feel unable to seek help when they are experiencing issues with how they are feeling. Addressing mental health stigma is crucial to creating a more compassionate and understanding society in which individuals feel able to take that step to seek support when they need to.
“Over recent years, great strides have been made to encourage open conversations about mental health. However, there is still much more to do. Southdown, along with many other organisations across the city, is committed to doing everything we can to break down stigma and barriers to accessing support. If you, or anybody you know, is struggling with your mental wellbeing, please seek support.”
“There’s still a massive stigma around mental health.”
Local man, Simon, from Brighton shares his personal story from being suicidal to using his lived experience to help others.
“I felt like a burden. That there was no point carrying on and it would be easier for everyone else. I’d had my time.
I’d come out of a job that made me feel suicidal and I was out of work for a long time which put me in a more negative space. I got to a point where I didn’t feel I could be open with people. Because there’s a stigma to it, I didn’t want to talk about it. But suicide shouldn’t be stigmatised.
I’m a Peer Support Worker at Southdown’s Staying Well Brighton & Hove mental health crisis prevention service and I got this job through my lived experience – which was eye opening and breathtaking. It turned a negative to a positive.
I help people in self-defined mental health crisis. We run a café where people can come and relax and have tea, coffee, hot chocolate. We do activities – puzzles and games – things to take your mind off the stresses and troubles outside. You can also chat and we’re happy to listen. You feel very isolated and very lonely when you’re at your most lowest and this service is an opportunity to not feel those things.
It’s the perfect job in terms of what I’d been through. I now have a deeper level of understanding and it creates a level of empathy that goes beyond anything else.
There’s still a massive stigma around mental health. Even now, people don’t really want to hear it. Some people still aren’t accepting.
What I’ve learnt is you can’t close down. You’ve got to have an open heart. Opening up took away the burden that I was carrying. Recognising the triggers and the flags and the feelings is key to being able to manage your way through life. It’s about being honest with yourself, rather than constantly hiding it.
There are so many men in crisis that won’t admit to it. A lot of men think they can’t talk about stuff. The idea of being vulnerable is too much for them. We’re living in a society where we’re not supposed to talk and it creates feelings of isolation.
I need men to know it’s not just about talking about your feelings, it’s connecting to your feelings and not dismissing them. I grew up with two women – my mum and grandma – and that was incredible to be able to learn about feelings.
Know that you’re not alone. There are other people out there who’ve lived it and are willing to share that with you.”