East End mental health project sees sufferers support each other

A stock image posed by an actor of someone suffering from poor mental health

The scheme is being run by the charity Mind in Tower Hamlets and Newham. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

People with mental health issues are to support one another in a scheme targeting hard-to-reach groups and tackling hidden homelessness.

The project will see support groups set up in 12 wards across the East End.

People with experience of mental ill health will also be trained as "peer leaders" to offer face-to-face and online help.

Black, Asian and other ethnic communities - who often don’t access support - as well as homeless people will be a particular focus.

The scheme, which hopes to reach hundreds of people, is being run by the charity Mind in Tower Hamlets and Newham.

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It benefits from £107,800 of funding from City Bridge Trust – the City of London Corporation’s charity funder.

The funding over three years will cover the cost of a project worker. The scheme will offer clients out-of-hours support, including via a WhatsApp group.

Michelle Kabia

Michelle Kabia. - Credit: Michael Cameron Photography

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Michelle Kabia, chief executive of Mind in Tower Hamlets and Newham, said: “People are more likely to go into crisis out of hours when most support services are closed so having that network of peers supporting each other is vital.

“This scheme is about early intervention, reaching out to people whose voices are currently not heard and making sure they know what services are available and how to access them.”

Sally, 42, accessed Mind's Covid wellbeing, advice and information service during lockdown.

She said: “I feel better about myself now. I am able to understand myself better. I have been able to come to terms with things that have happened to me in the past and move on."

Dhruv Patel, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust committee, said: “All too often people experiencing mental health issues suffer in silence because they don’t know where to go for help.

"People from [black, Asian and minority ethnic] communities and those who are homeless are disproportionately affected.

“This scheme will have the twin benefits of providing much-needed support to those who don’t currently have it and helping the peer leaders to develop new skills and boost their confidence.”

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