A “lockdown lifeline” for those who struggled mentally during the pandemic is being provided across Buckinghamshire.
Mental health charity PoetsIN has successfully secured funding from the National Lottery to help those who need it most. The money will be used to support NHS Social Prescribers whose role it is to refer people onto Link Workers who focus on introducing holistic approaches to boost and maintain health and wellbeing.
PoetsIN is an award-winning organisation which offers a safe space for people who suffer from depression and anxiety. Its Creative Mental Health Programme™ encourages people to express their feelings via the medium of writing or other creative approaches.
The programme comprises different themed modules and runs for up to six weeks. It has a 100 per cent success rate in reducing stress and 99 per cent of those who take part report having reduced suicidal thoughts, self-harm less and symptoms of depression and anxiety are significantly eased.
Paul Chambers, co-founder and chief operating officer, said: “We’re humbled and honoured to be working with the NHS, supporting the organisation’s Social Prescribers. The pandemic and the lockdowns have affected so many people, that the NHS is on its knees when it comes to trying to treat mental health issues.
“We know the Social Prescribers have more people to refer than they do funding, so we’re hoping to collaborate so we can help eliminate waiting times and provide a lockdown lifeline to the people who need it most. Our work really can save lives.
“Our IN-Person Creative Mental Health Programme™ is free through this funding and has been designed to specifically help those who are struggling with their mental health. COVID-19 has affected everyone – children, young people and adults have all had an incredibly hard 18 months which has been based around huge amounts of uncertainty, isolation and grief.”
The modules in the programme focus on depression, anxiety, worry, stress and confidence.
The charity has been going since 2017 and was set up by Paul Chambers and Sammie Adams. They have both suffered from mental health illnesses since childhood, although were both only diagnosed in later life. However, they found writing in the form of journaling, poetry and stories got them through many dark times.
The NHS has forecast there will be 1.8 million new referrals to mental health services in the next three years as a result of COVID-19. In addition, there were hundreds of thousands of patients who were unable to access services during the first lockdown, which only exacerbated symptoms.
There were 268,218 fewer psychological therapy referrals between March and December 2020 than in the same period in 2019.
Sammie said: “Our interventions will not only help with these shortfalls, but people who are referred to us will be left waiting less than a week before they are seen. We also provide a 24/7 buddy system so they have access to someone whenever they need it.
“The work we do at the charity is essential and we are absolutely dedicated to helping as many people as we can come through to the other side so they can go on to live a happy and contented life.”
This initial phase of group and individual interventions, and wellbeing workshops will support up to 288 people in need of help in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
Further funding has been promised so the charity can spread its work to other geographical areas.
For more information about PoetsIN, visit: https://www.poetsin.com/