In her regular column highlighting local projects and services, Link4Growth volunteer Debra Oakaby takes a closer look at mental health
If you feel excited about starting the new year and making changes to your lifestyle or at work, spare a thought for those who might be finding this time of year incredibly stressful.
We already know that one in four people in the UK suffer from anxiety, depression and emotional problems, cited by The Mental Health Foundation.
Indeed, Waltham Forest Talking Therapies IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) offers more than 5,000 assessments a year and its main base is located at the South Forest Centre and Thorne House in Leytonstone, with other practitioners working at various GP surgeries in the borough. It is a free NHS therapy service.
I recently met some of the staff at the centre to find out more about the services available and how I could help. Service manager Jill Belcher told me: “The winter is here and it is colder and it is darker much earlier in the day and many people can feel more isolated.
“With the busy holiday period everything can seem more stressful and can impact the way you feel and cope.
“People often find it helpful to speak to someone confidentially, totally independent of their situation, rather than family or friends. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and other therapies offered give you the opportunity to talk about the difficulties you are experiencing and will help you make changes in your life and find the best way forward.”
The service offers an initial telephone assessment appointment. If you need to speak to someone urgently you can call the Mental Health Direct Helpline on 0300 555 1000 day or night.
Did you know that if you are suffering from mild to moderate anxiety and depression or stress you can also refer yourself to the service? You can do this by emailing WalthamForest.firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 0300 555 1271 or visiting the website www.wftalkingtherapies.co.uk. Alternatively, you can speak to your GP.
At Link4Growth we also believe that it is good to talk. As you may already know we bring people together from different parts of the community at our regular meetings and help and support each other.
I became interested in Waltham Forest Talking Therapies IAPT after meeting one of their employment support workers at the borough’s jobs fair last September. This service aims to improve mental wellbeing through engagement in employment.
According to the centre for mental health: “Returning to work after a bout of mental illness can be extremely daunting; especially if you lost your job while unwell or work was particularly stressful before you took sick leave.”
I am looking forward to running some free training for clients in January to help them get back to work, which will be delivered in the spirit of Link4Growth.
If you have any stories to share about the community in action please contact myself on the details below, or drop in at a Link4Growth meeting held regularly in Walthamstow and Chingford.
Link4Growth organises regular community networking events in Waltham Forest. For more information: