Advance Brighter Futures (ABF), the local mental health charity that has worked in and around Wrexham for the past 25 years, is urging local people on World Mental Health Day (Saturday 10 October) not to suffer in silence during the latest lockdown. The charity has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by adapting the way it delivers its services to combat isolation, stress, and anxiety, and has seen increased numbers seeking their support.
Chief Officer, Lorrisa Roberts, says: “We’ve radically altered the way we deliver our mental health services to meet demand: after all it’s been reported that over half of people across Wales are now struggling with their mental health and wellbeing because of Covid-19. That’s why we’ve shifted many of our services online, including our lifestyle coaching, developed new services, like Wellbeing Wednesday, and are offering a telephone check-in service to combat loneliness.”
Demand is high. Since April of this year, ABF has supported almost 450 people across Wrexham, providing a whopping 600 telephone check-ins to date. Sustaining ABF’s services is crucial as they are needed more than ever – not least because of their proven track record in positively impacting on the lives of their clients, like 57-year-old Fiona Edwards, who first encountered ABF five years ago, when she sought support to help manage her OCD and anxiety.
Speaking from her home in Wrexham, Fiona says: “ABF has given me back a life, which I live, whereas before I survived. The big, white door of ABF was first opened by a lovely lady who became a great support and still is. I immediately felt at ease. I could tell that I wouldn’t get lost and be just a file with a number. Before I had any help, I couldn’t go on a bus due to anxiety and my OCD. I now can get on the bus, and do so regularly. I’ve gone from being an ABF supported person to a volunteer at the charity, supporting others as a peer.”
Since meeting the ABF team, Fiona has gone on to study for a degree in Psychology at Wrexham Glyndŵr University and is now at Chester University working towards her Master’s in Art Therapy. Fiona continues: “I would recommend anybody who has difficulties with mental health to seek help and consider ABF, as they’re a wonderful organisation, local to the Wrexham area. Now with Covid-19 here for the foreseeable future, I’m making my first tentative steps towards delivering online counselling. I’ve seen for myself, particularly in recent weeks, how it can help people in lockdown, and I hope people will reach out to us if they’re struggling.”
World Mental Health Day takes place on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world. This year’s theme is ‘mental health for all’, which looks to support those among us whose lives have changed considerably as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. These include healthcare workers, students, workers whose livelihoods have been negatively impacted, people caught in poverty, people with existing mental health conditions, and those managing grief, who were often unable to say goodbye to their loved ones.
One of the charity’s successful projects is BYW – Believe You Will – which has seen an impressive 86% of clients increase their ability to manage mental health. It offers one-to-one coaching by lifestyle coaches who offer sessions on improving self-esteem or developing social networks, usually consisting of hourly sessions over an average of six to eight weeks.
Alongside lifestyle coaching, the BYW Engagement Project also offers group activities such as walking, gardening and art. To get involved with BYW, people need a referral from the Community Mental Health Team. We have a number of other services where people can self-refer, including our Postnatal Recovery And Mutual Support (PRAMS) project for parents, and a range of educational support groups.
If you live in the Wrexham area and struggling with your mental health, you can learn more about ABF and the services on offer here:
Telephone: 01978 364777 / 01978 310247