Mental health charity Hearts & Minds reaches out to isolated teens during coronavirus crisis.
The COVID-19 crisis has brought uncertainty and anxiety to us all. But for many young people already struggling with mental health issues, this has been a hugely distressing time. Social isolation became the norm as lockdown was enforced, and the usual services and support were no longer available.
Hearts & Minds, a charity for 14-to-25 year olds experiencing mental health difficulties, saw a huge increase in demand for its services as the impact of the pandemic took hold, both from existing members and those newly seeking support.
The charity applied to Merton Giving for a grant to help them reach out to as many young people as possible by offering online group sessions, 1-2-1 peer support and mentoring, and online advice on mental wellbeing.
It’s virtual sessions on a wide range of topics are proving popular. Explains director Beth Ingram: “We are currently delivering four virtual groups per week, including topics such as activism, exploring obsessions and compulsions, dealing with internalised stigma, zine-making, poetry, history and more. They have been really well-attended and we are also developing and formalising our 1-2-1 service.”
The community is peer-led, meaning that staff and volunteers are all trained young adults with their own lived experience of mental health difficulties. As well as its direct impact on the lives of young people, it has wide-reaching benefits, helping to relieve pressure on social services and hospitals.
Beth adds: “The community space and supportive environment Hearts & Minds provides feels more important than ever as we go through the waves of adapting to this lifestyle, with young people stuck at home, often in difficult situations, with little certainty about the future. The funding from Merton Giving has been invaluable in helping us support young people experiencing mental health difficulties and extreme distress during this period.”