Over the past three years, we have all faced many significant challenges, many having widespread impacts, including on people’s mental health and wellbeing. The COVID-19 pandemic, the lockdowns, restrictions and uncertainty, while important for slowing the spread of the virus, had a major impact on a lot of people’s mental health and wellbeing. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), one in six adults said they experienced some form of depression in the summer of 2021.
Talking about our mental health helps to reduce stigma and create supportive communities, where we can talk openly and feel empowered to seek help when we need it. Time to Talk Day is an important way to start that conversation.
As we face a cost of living crisis, and rising cost of food and energy bills, we need to highlight the impact it is having around mental health and wellbeing, to let people know that it is ok to talk about it.
The cost of living crisis is affecting many people, whether that be reducing the amount you turn the heating on or struggling to get a normal food shop in. These difficulties and worrying about finances can have a significant impact on mental health and wellbeing, and if you already have poor mental health, these money worries can make things even worse.
Whether you are struggling financial or with mental health and wellbeing, or both, it is important to reach out regardless of what level of support you need. You do not need to be in a crisis before asking for help, it is better to ask the questions and get advice before getting to that point.
I know that I struggled during lockdown home-schooling my two children and worrying about my friends and family. It can be difficult asking for help, you may feel ashamed and awkward about asking but it is important to know you don’t have to suffer alone. While it may take some time to work things through, help is available, you will not be judged and if you are anything like me, you will find it a huge relief and support.
Since October, 90 Welcoming Spaces have opened across Bristol. They are places where people can keep warm, socialise with others, and access support. Citizens Advice Bristol are running drop-in sessions at various venues to give practical guidance around benefits, money, debt and energy, and they can signpost to specialist legal if more assistance is needed.
Welcoming Spaces are open for all to visit whether you are having a good or bad day. If you are feeling lonely or struggling to keep warm at home, need mental health or emotional wellbeing support, or are finding you’re struggling due to worries around the cost of living, please utilise the services available and don’t suffer alone. Help is available.
You can find your nearest Welcoming Space on the Bristol City Council website.
If you don’t feel comfortable attending a Welcoming Space, other support for mental health and money issues are available across the city.
Every Mind Matters give expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health.
If you’re struggling most days, it’s important you ask for support. Community Access Support Service can signpost to organisations across Bristol for all groups of people and communities.
The Samaritans offer support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on:
- 0330 094 5717
- freephone 116 123
Shout 85258 offers confidential text support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When you need immediate help, text SHOUT to 85258.
Bristol Mind also has online resources to support older people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.
VitaMinds is a free and confidential NHS service which offers a range of short-term talking therapies to people aged 16 and over who live in and are registered with a GP in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
Second Step supply mental health and wellbeing services to help people take the next steps in their recovery. They give practical help and emotional support tailored to everyone.
Changes Bristol give free peer support to any adult suffering from mental distress. This includes weekly in-person and online support as well as a telephone befriending service.
Citizens Advice can give you free advice around money, housing and legal problems.
Use the Money Helper website for free tools to help track spending, save and get help while you’re working.
Get tips about managing money from Money Saving Expert.
Further cost of living support is available on the Bristol City Council website or you can call the We Are Bristol helpline for free on 0800 694 0184, Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm.