Looking back on World Mental Health Day

Assistant Psychologist Catey Curl, working with Senior Clinical Psychologist Dr Monica Charalambides, writes about how they celebrated wellbeing for all on World Mental Health Day in October.

On 10 October Fitzmary II Ward at Bethlem Royal Hospital celebrated an important day - World Mental Health Day (WMHD). The theme for this year was Mental Health in the Workplace, an opportunity to consider not only service user wellbeing, but staff's mental and physical wellbeing and health.

Celebrating WMHD enabled service users and staff to join together in developing and facilitating fun activities to encourage, learn and feel good throughout the day. With the ward decorated with fantastic WMHD banners and posters made previously by the service users, the day began with a “Fuel Yourself Healthy” tea and fruit selection to get everyone in the mood.

With so many different tasty herbal teas on offer everyone joined together and started the day on a very healthy note. Then came the “Smoothie Making Bike Competition”! This went fantastically and gave staff and service users the opportunity to create their own smoothies from an abundance of fruit provided and go head-to-head to see who could cycle themselves a smoothie in the fastest time. Not only did everyone benefit from this by means of nutrition but it also brought so much fun and laughter to those participating and watching. The smoothies were certainly well received after working up a sweat!

In the early afternoon, ward Clinical Psychologist, Monica Charalambides, hosted a staff presentation and workshop about mental health in the workforce and strategies to overcome burnout and stress. Staff reported finding this very relevant and useful to their daily work and felt motivated to take forward a number of points made to promote healthy wellbeing and maintain a good quality of care to patients.

With healthy wellbeing in mind, the afternoon brought a number of other sessions to help motivate, stimulate, and encourage both staff and patients to get active and involved. “Laughter Ball Yoga©” was delivered by Elizabeth Mortlock, who offers her services as a volunteer implementing her unique yoga sessions successfully across several inpatient wards in the Trust.

Ms Mortlock fueled the ward with a sense of positive energy, enthusiasm and commitment to make things work and flow well. The session was very well attended with at least 12 staff and service users joining in the activity when able, comfortable and confident to do so. Feedback was very positive, with people saying they had 'fun' and felt 'relaxed’ and ‘stretched’ and ‘happy’. It was a fantastic opportunity for staff and service users to try something different whilst laughing, stretching and moving in an activity that was adaptable to an individual’s skill levels and physical capabilities.

A late afternoon session of “Guided Meditation” was led by ward Occupational Therapist, Louise McCombie. After an hour of stretching and laughing, the chance to join in a relaxing guided meditation was well received. The communal area was turned into a calm ‘Zen-like’ space by closing the blinds, positioning the yoga mats together on the floor and playing soothing meditation music in the background. Service users who took part said they managed to hold their attention and imagined each aspect of the meditation dialogue, describing the experience as very “relaxing”.

To close the day, cupcakes were provided for service users and staff alike to decorate and enjoy with a cup of tea and music in the communal area. All sorts of icing, icing pens, sprinkles and frostings were provided for everyone to get creative and decorate the cupcakes in any way they wanted - before eating them! This of course was very popular and service users felt encouraged to try different decorative items.

This 25th WMHD was an incredibly positive and successful event that will not be forgotten anytime soon. Everyone involved in participating and creating the healthy, fun and motivating activities had such a fun time laughing together, moving together and eating together. Feedback forms were created for the event to get an idea of what people thought of the day and what they might change for next time.

Overall, for both staff and service users who entered many of the groups, their favourite activities were Laughter Ball Yoga© and the smoothie-making bike competition. Service users commented that it gave them some insight into keeping healthy through making and eating smoothies and were provided an opportunity to learn a new activity in Laughter Ball Yoga©. Many of them were unsure about yoga to begin with but have now learnt to love it.

Staff also enjoyed the opportunity to learn new things and said that all the activities of the day had such a significant impact on everyone’s mood and there was a very positive atmosphere on the ward. The only changes people suggested were to make the day longer and add more activities. Fantastic feedback all round! It brought those on the ward that day together and, as one bank staff member said, “was the best shift ever!” We can’t wait for next year!

World Mental Heath Day Pic For Blog - Resized

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