How product giving can support mental health charities and their beneficiaries
World Mental Health Day
From the recent announcement by TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to fund £2 million towards an online mental health service as part of their Heads Together movement to the growing list of celebrities opening up about their personal battle with depression, it seems like the world is slowly coming to terms with the existence and legitimacy of mental health.
Lately awareness movements have been tackling some lesser-known realities around mental health. Movember this year is encouraging men to open up about their mental health issues through a series of viral videos, to address the fact that men account for three quarters of deaths from suicide in the UK every year. Also campaigning to decrease the stigma around mental health is vlogger Jonny Benjamin who was saved from jumping off a bridge by a passer-by and became famous for his videos and TV programmes about mental health.
Thanks to the combined efforts of campaigners, charities, public services and celebrity spokespeople, from Hollywood movie stars to Royals, mental health is finally being talked about. Because it affects so many of us, friends, family, colleagues, children as well as older people, it is now being taken more seriously, more openly, and conditions like depression, post trauma stress disorder or schizophrenia are starting to become more frequently diagnosed and taken care of.
However, following years of dwindling public investment in mental health care services, the NHS is unable to meet the growing demand at national level and is reaching a tipping point – putting even more pressure on the charity sector to provide the support needed by millions of patients. Despite the recent announcement of extra funding towards mental health services, experts and national charities alike are sounding alarm bells. Rethink Mental Health points out that the government’s new task force plan and its 21,000 new mental health posts are welcome but not enough. Charity Mind reveals that between 2012/2013 and 2015/2016 there were fewer and fewer hospital beds available; staffing levels for acute treatment had reduced; more and more patients were having to travel to distant locations to receive treatment, taking them away from their family and friends and bringing about unnecessary stress and anxiety.
The knock-on effect on charities in In Kind Direct’s network is tangible. More people are going to charities to get support for their mental health issues. With their stretched budgets, charities cannot always cope with all the requests, but do their best to improve their beneficiaries’ well-being. Thanks to services like In Kind Direct, they are able to make significant savings on their operational costs by receiving donations of the products they need to run their centres or activities and distribute life essentials to people in crisis. Every pound diverted from general expenditure can be invested in improving services and helping more people in need. As a matter of fact, In Kind Direct’s 2017 Impact Report showed that 70% of the 946 responding charities said that that In Kind Direct had helped their charity to keep going while 75% said In Kind Direct had helped to address poor physical or mental wellbeing, up from 66% on the previous year.
Every day we hear how local, grassroots charities are playing a crucial role in providing information, material and emotional support to disadvantaged people. And sometimes, the products themselves can play a role in a person’s recovery journey, improving their health, well-being and self-esteem. For example, Sajida Ahmed, Chief Executive of the Oak Foundation in North East London told us: “One of the mothers we work with has a 10-year-old autistic child with severe learning disabilities. When referred to us she was suffering with depression and was very anxious about the future. With In Kind Direct’s help we were able to give her daughter a nice Disney dress and toys on her birthday. We also provided the mother with some baking equipment and kitchen utensils and she now regularly bakes cakes for our group. She has started smiling again. Even small changes and small acts of kindness can make big changes to people’s life.”
Barry, manager at NAViGO CIC - Tukes Project in Grimsby, told us: “We have used products from In Kind Direct to create pamper days for people in our Eating Disorders Unit. It is difficult to overemphasise the positive impact this type of treat can have on patients. We also recently received equipment for use in our sensory room in our dementia wards, to create more social activities for residents with dementia. If it wasn't for In Kind Direct we could not have done this.”
Improving the way we talk about mental health and increasing opportunities for people affected by mental health conditions, such as career perspectives, is a huge challenge for our society. Once again, charities are at the forefront of this battle and it’s important that their massive contribution is recognised as we celebrate World Mental Health Day on 10 October.