A free community-led project using an online platform was developed to promote mental health wellbeing, share lived experience stories, peer support and build a self-care plan.
Mutual Support Group - Mental Health
Community members joined together to form a mutual support group for people living worldwide and in Australia to improve their mental health and wellbeing. Mutual Support Groups offer a safe place where people can get practical, constructive, and helpful information. The purpose of the event is to help people practice self-reflection, and coping strategies and share lived experiences with mental health issues that could inspire other members. Listening to others who are experiencing similar difficulties may help people feel less alone in their hardships.
The event lasted an hour and fifteen minutes, during which we spent five minutes discussing the event and group rules, 10 minutes doing an icebreaker activity, 10 minutes doing a photo memory activity, 5 minutes explaining "R U Okay" statement, 30 minutes doing a "tree of life" activity, and the remaining 15 minutes discussing and developing a self-care plan. Participants shared their stories through a photo memory activity, received a word document to create their tree of life (self-reflection mental health), and made a self-care plan using an online interactive platform.
What were the reasons behind creating the event?
Individuals can offer support, encourage, and provide comfort to other group members through mutual support groups, and they receive the same in return. When people are going through a complex or challenging time, family members and friends may sympathise but are uncertain how to best assist. To connect with others who have lived those experiences and aid in understanding and normalising the concept, it is acceptable to admit that you are not "okay" and require assistance. People go through difficult times in their lives, and to get through them, they frequently seek help from their close ones or take medication. However, it may be a temporary solution because it addresses the source of your pain rather than your thoughts. The most effective way to overcome it is to speak up for others who have been in your shoes.
What were the outcomes of the event?
The event allowed participants to reflect on their past and present state of mental health by sharing and listening to narratives. Meaningful conversations and social connections happened while participants shared the stories in the chat during the "Tree of Life" activity. Moreover, the activities also provided ideas for the participants to run their event with community members. In relation to receiving feedback from participants, most of them stated that the project had enabled them to express their thoughts and emotions through self-reflection activities. Besides that, people were able to identify their strengths during the ice breaker activity, where they felt relaxed and confident in participating in other activities throughout the session.
Finally, a discussion was formed during self-care plan activities where participants had the chance to share and learn coping strategies. We believe that even simple initiatives such as this would support members of the community as a result of these responses. As a result, the mutual support group will benefit society by raising awareness about the critical nature of mindfulness and mental health well-being.
Do you encourage others to create community-led projects?
The answer to this question is a resounding "Yes, absolutely!" Mental health is a prevalent social issue that many people do not comprehend or interpret correctly. Therefore, creating community-led projects in society is critical, whether it is building networks among people, breaking down stigma and stereotypes, or simply improving one's wellbeing. By establishing community-led initiatives, we can assess their efficiency and motivate ourselves to do better the second time. Community-led projects seek to confront and discuss social issues that exist in this era, thereby empowering individuals to effect change at the grassroots level. When individuals have others who share their narratives, ideologies, and principles, they feel more connected and have a sense of meaning.
Societies become more structured because of their local strengths and accomplishments, broadening their power and involvement with other stakeholders outside their immediate communities. Partnership and local management all contribute to the acceleration of larger change. As a result, we can effect change when we work collaboratively; therefore, start your community project today!