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Mental Health Day - High Peak Mental Health Carers

CVS members High Peak Mental Health Carers provide invaluable peer support for people caring for relatives or friends with mental health needs.  

As part of our focus on World Mental Health Day 2020 we spoke to group Secretary Helen Cochrane about how the group has persevered and continued to grow through the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Since the start of lock down at the end of May, we have managed to keep our Group going.  I think because we are a small, close-knit peer support group, it has been somewhat easier to support each other than it would be for larger organisations.

At first, we used our WhatsApp group chat to stay in touch with each other, and offer support where we could. We then started using Zoom video conferencing for virtual meetings once a fortnight. While some group members really enjoyed the Zoom meetings it wasn’t for everyone, some people just didn’t feel comfortable using it.

In July, we then started to meet outdoors.  One of our members invited us to her garden, and we sat and chatted, socially distanced of course.  We then took advantage of the "eat out to help out” scheme in August and had lunch at a cafe (outside).  Our members really enjoyed this and it did feel like we were getting back to "proper meetings”.

In September, the Methodist Church in Buxton where we meet, opened its doors again.  There were new rules to follow for hiring the meeting room, and we had our own risk assessment to follow.  We were able to meet officially and were exempt from the 6 person rule as we are a support group.  We ensured that we followed all the rules, and met in a safe way.  All our members commented that it is the peer support that we all give and receive, which is the most important factor.  Also a short break from your caring role is invaluable.  

Sometimes the nature of our discussions can be of a very sensitive nature.  Our loved ones who we care for can quite often have very complex needs due to the nature of their mental illness.  Having a private, non-judgemental and empathic group to share your experiences is so vital, and we will keep going.”

The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. This year's theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is 'mental health for all'.

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