It is estimated that one in four individuals will struggle with some sort of mental health issue each year. That startling statistic is the driving force behind Cornwall Mind, a mental health charity that has been supporting Cornish communities for over 26 years.
“We work with people to support them in achieving their goals and by getting them more engaged in their local communities,” explains Jo Boulton, Cornwall Mind’s project co-ordinator.
With 19 full and part-time employees and 30 volunteers, the organization currently offers three different modalities of therapy: Active Minds, which promotes mental health through physical activities like gardening and exercise; Creative Minds, which focuses on stress-relief via writing, music, and art; and Community Minds, where participants are encouraged to interact and relate to one another through virtual cafes and talks.
“We offer online services for those that cannot access our face-to-face groups,” notes Boulton. “We are now exploring other ways of providing online support as well, as we want more people to have more available options to them.”
In addition, Boulton’s team supports those in recovery and those experiencing home insecurity or homelessness. They also host a non-judgemental helpline for people who identify as trans and nonbinary.
More recently, the organization has created specific online support options for those coping with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We endeavour to prevent those who are vulnerable from developing mental health issues by providing advice and assistance. We campaign to improve services, raise awareness, and promote understanding of mental health. We will not give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect. We offer a range of recovery-focused wellbeing groups such as gardening projects, walking groups, and radio show workshops. We also provide a range of projects for people experiencing mental health difficulties, homelessness, and fuel poverty.
Boulton previously worked for the NHS in a mental health day resource centre, before making the switch to Cornwall Mind after she was drawn to its core values, mission, and style of work.
“I wanted to work in a mental health organization where clients are at the heart of everything. Cornwall Mind is a workplace that lives its values, and the wellbeing of our staff is a high priority for us. We are a dedicated team.”
The association’s client base is broad, catering to anyone over the age of 18 who currently resides in Cornwall and who is struggling with matters pertaining to mental health.
“We work individually with people on a case-by-case basis, as everyone is different and has unique struggles.”
Boulton admits that, while rewarding, the job doesn’t come without its fair share of challenges.
“As with any small, local charity, funding is always an issue. Although we are affiliated to Mind (the national U.K. charity), Cornwall Mind is an independently registered and funded goodwill organization dependent on fundraising and donations to continue our vital work in the community. We have seen an increase in people needing support during the current COVID-19 pandemic – it really has impacted the mental wellbeing of people, and we are currently facing a mental health emergency. On top of that, Cornwall has a variety of matters that impact the mental health of the local community, such as rural issues involving the farming community, poor public transport, an increasing aging population, reduced employment opportunities and wages, high self-harm and suicide rates, and lack of general mental health and wellbeing support.”
The solution, she notes, includes engaging more members of the community to become more involved with fundraising and donations – both options that are now accessible via the organization’s website.
“With this, we could increase our services in more areas of Cornwall.”
2022 will busy for Boulton and her peers, with much change and growth expected over the coming months.
“Our plan is to further improve our services and expand across the regions. We want everyone to know we exist so that people have a place to turn. No one should face a mental health problem alone.”