Three good things: online support groups started during lockdown

The coronavirus crisis has had a profound impact on the nation's mental health, according to the charity Mind. These online groups were set up to provide emotional support

The coronavirus crisis has had a profound impact on the nation's mental health, according to the charity Mind. These online groups were set up to provide emotional support

MenCheck-in is an online support group for men
Mental health support for men

A problem shared is a problem halved – but men don’t always find it easy to open up. So, when lockdown was announced in the UK, personal development coach Kenny Mammarella-D’Cruz decided to set up his own lunchtime online support groups, just for men.

“I thought, something’s brewing here and I need to make sure people don’t go bonkers, that they don’t harm themselves or other people, and that they have space to talk,” he told Positive News. The sessions, where attendees are asked to donate whatever they are able to afford, are attended by men aged between 20 and 70, from all over the world.

One of the members, Bertie, 27, said joining the MenCheck-in group had made him feel calmer and more stable, in turn helping him to manage his anxiety. “It felt like a luxury to be able to chat, hang out, laugh, talk about real issues and feel connected in such a disconnected and chaotic time,” he said. “The groups are essential for me for maintaining my sanity.”

During the sessions, the men discuss how they are feeling and share experiences, Mammarella-D’Cruz says. “Men are really supportive to each other and generous in their sharings,” he added.

Image: Menspeak

Duty of Care is an online support group for NHS workers
Therapy for healthcare workers

Healthcare professionals are working around the clock to treat Covid-19 patients during the pandemic. But who is looking after their mental and physical health? Alongside efforts to get the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need, a number of initiatives have sprung up to support the mental health of NHS staff.

Duty to Care is one such group. It provides access to a directory of vetted wellbeing practitioners offering services to frontline healthcare workers.

“I was lying in bed one Saturday, thinking my biggest fear is not just how my husband [a doctor] and all his colleagues and NHS workers survive,” Harriet Hunt, a communications executive who set up the initiative, says. “It was that this is going to be such a severe and drawn-out period of high pressure for them.”

So far, Duty to Care has been accessed by 600 NHS workers across the UK.

Image: Reuters/Paul Childs

Online support groups for pregnant women during Covid-19
Support for new mothers

It’s not an easy time to be pregnant or to have recently given birth. That’s why one NHS trust, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Trust (NNUH), has launched a new partnership with MUTU, a medically recommended exercise programme, for new mothers who are unable to attend their normal face-to-face NHS consultations during the Covid-19 crisis.

The online sessions offer exercises to help women with pelvic health issues and physical rehabilitation after birth. “We are hearing stories of women who were suffering physically and mentally as a result of body changes and unable to get help,” said Wendy Powell, the founder of MUTU. “They are now on their way to feeling confident, comfortable and more at ease as a result of the digital support.”

NNUH has launched a pilot of the partnership, with 92 new mothers taking part in the 12-week programme.

Image: NNUH
Main image: Bruno Cervera Azsk

This is part of our ‘Positive responses to coronavirus’ series: