Monmouthshire County Council has marked National Mental Health Awareness Week by highlighting some of the services it has provided to ensure residents can cope well during the coronavirus pandemic. The council has focused on mental health while lockdown is in force and instigated a number of initiatives to help the county’s communities.
The council’s Community Wellbeing Development team has published a useful booklet listing sources of advice with information on how organisations are providing services during lockdown. Among the organisations featured are Citizens Advice, peer mentoring service Cyfle Cymru, mental health charity Mind, Women’s Aid, Monmouthshire Housing Association’s Social Inclusion Project, the People First group for those with a learning disability and PaCE (Parent, Childcare and Employment), an employability project helping parents into work by addressing childcare barriers.
The Community Wellbeing Development team itself is supporting individuals and groups to tackle loneliness and isolation by setting up on-line communities, linking people with like-minded individuals, offering practical support to print leaflets and posters and even arranging organised singing from windows! For details or a copy of the booklet contact Fred Weston – firstname.lastname@example.org – or telephone 07890 559566.
The council’s Community & Partnerships service is supporting residents undergoing self-isolation by connecting them with local volunteers who can assist with tasks like collecting essential shopping and prescriptions. Meanwhile, local volunteer groups are helping people to stay connected in their communities with fun online activities such as dress-up days and virtual open gardens. The team has also made calls to over 2,500 shielded people to check on their well-being as well as supporting community volunteering and local food banks. Residents can find out more by emailing email@example.com or calling 01633 644696.
Home schooling, lack of routine for children and other factors associated with the pandemic lockdown have placed extra pressure on families so the council’s Building Strong Families team has set up a temporary advice line. As well as offering support, the team also offers ideas and resources for activities that parents can share with their children. Residents wishing to access the facility should telephone 01633 644152 or 07970 166975 – text and WhatsApp are available – or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health, Councillor Penny Jones who has responsibility for mental health commented on the service: “Understandably, in these times of uncertainty and change, things might appear overwhelming at times. Our family support workers know the importance of access to the right assistance, which is why we are running our advice line. Our panel coordinator will take your enquiry and one of our experienced family support workers will call you back at a time that suits you to offer a listening ear, support, advice or guidance.”
The importance of reading for pleasure cannot be underestimated during lockdown and members of Monmouthshire Libraries can download free eBooks and eAudiobooks through the council’s Borrowbox service. In these challenging times, the Reading Well collection of titles promoted by the Reading Agency can help understand and manage mental health with some titles available to download as eBooks or eAudiobooks. For more information visit https://reading-well.org.uk/wales
The Reading Agency’s Mood Boosting Books have been chosen for their uplifting and mood-boosting qualities and some of the titles are available through Borrowbox. For more information log onto https://reading-well.org.uk/books/mood-boosting-books
Monmouthshire Libraries also offers a free online magazine service, RBdigital, with access to current and back issues of popular wide-ranging magazine titles. To access Borrowbox and RBdigital visit: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/community-hubs-libraries/digital-downloads/
Councillor Penny Jones added: “The coronavirus pandemic has impacted on all of us and we recognise that lockdown may adversely affect people’s mental health. We regard any advice and assistance that the council can offer as vital to help the county’s communities while we stay at home and stay safe.”