At this time of year, you might find you have stopped doing the things that make you happy, and are just counting down the days to spring. Your mental health may be the last thing on your mind, but we know just how important it is. Here are some ideas to boost your wellbeing this winter.
1. Make a list of the things that are most important in your life.
This could include people you are close to, or tasks and hobbies you enjoy
2. Think about different activities that focus on the things that are most important in your life.
Now that you have a list of the most important things in your life, come up with activities that involve these important things. A good way of doing this is by organising the activities into things you can do now. Then things you can do in the next week or two. Then things you can do in the a few weeks or months. For example, I will go for a walk around the park tomorrow, and I will send a card to a friend next week
3. Create a plan for your activities.
For each activity, think about and write down:
• what day you will do it
• what time you will do it
• where you will do it
• the things you need to do it
4. Look back at your list
Take time to look back at your list of what is most important to you. This can help you think about whether what you are doing is what you would really like to be doing and focusing on what is important to you.
Your 5 Senses Scan
Grounding exercises are often used to help us stay connected to the present moment. They can help us manage anxiety, stress, or difficult emotions. The grounding exercise below asks you to make a list using your senses. You can write the list down, say it out loud or say it in your head.
Make a list of:
5 things you can see
4 things you can hear
3 things you can touch
2 things you can smell or taste
Take 1 deep breath.
Health in Mind is one of the partners of the In Care Survivors Alliance, which runs Future Pathways. It is one of Scotland’s best-known mental health charities. Since 1982, it has developed to meet people’s changing needs, and it now promotes positive mental health and wellbeing in local communities across Scotland.
It builds hope, resilience, and understanding of mental health and wellbeing. It does this through support, collaborations, campaigns and resources. People are at the heart everything Health in Mind does. Each year the charity helps around 4,000 people to live the life they want to live.
Our fundamental purpose is to help people who experienced childhood abuse and neglect in care to live happier, more fulfilled and more independent lives, recognising and being sensitive to the profound impact of traumatic experience – and tailoring support to set the conditions for positive connection and improving quality of life.
We do this because we know that a positive relationship can be both an outcome in its own right, and a powerful enabler to accessing other supports.
Trust is a hugely important part of this; it is fundamental to making a connection and to building bridges to other supports and resources. This is especially important for people who may have been let down and poorly served by professionals in the past or may have a deep mistrust of services.
And we decided to be iterative, so we can apply what we learn immediately, constantly aiming to do our best by and for the people we work with.
For a number of years, we have worked with Matter of Focus. Together, we use impact measurement to drive insight and innovation. And by investing in impact measurement, we have an evidence-based way of reflecting on our work, developing the courage to test new ideas and adapting when we need to.
As such, as we now have real confidence in the importance of taking a relational approach, with a strong evidence base about what works and how.
It has helped us take a hard look at what being person-centred and trauma informed means in practice, with effects ripping out across how we work as colleagues, as commissioners of support and as contractors with Delivery Partners, as well as how we respond to feedback and complaints. Our relational approach invites the participation and contribution of everyone who is involved in and benefits from the service.
Measuring the impact of our relational approach has been central to developing an understanding of what ‘good support’ looks like and feels like to people, who have been seldom heard, or well served by existing services.
The service offers personalised support to people throughout their redress journey. This includes talking through your needs in relation to your Redress journey, including practical and emotional support.
There is tailored support provided by Link Workers and by delivery partners. There is also connection with other specialist support organisations who can help you find your records.
The service can support you to prepare for applying, during the application and after you have applied.
If you’re going through the application process for the Redress Scheme and would like to speak to someone about how you are feeling, contact the Emotional Support Helpline:
The Helpline can also support you if you are thinking about applying for redress but haven’t made the application yet. You can also contact the Redress Support Service if you have already submitted your application.
Write go on write I’m talking to my pen
Oh what a clever writer to write when I say when.
The crimson skies the rushing waves I’m thinking in my head
Oh what a clever thinker to think what I just said.
It is really such a lovely life it’s me who’s telling you
I know it’s me who’s talking but to whom am I talking to.
I’m really just a splendid chap rich in thought and health
but guess what I discovered I am talking to myself.
A thought a thought it’s just a thought my mind will think again to think of all the thoughts
I’ve had would cast me out in shame.
I thought I was a rock star my mind was running wild selfish thought’s all for myself sometimes
I’m like a child.
I thought I was a Christian to the world I’d be so good but it’s to the devil my soul I gave and
the words I speak are rude.
I thought I was a politician I’d save the world’s cries but I’m not different from the rest
I’m a liar in disguise.
I’ve thought in many ways of folk
But it’s just a shot in the dark life is good and bad at times.
What do you think well there’s a thought.
Chris has been working with Future Pathways for several years. He has been keen on drawing for as long as he can remember, and it has developed over the years. Chris told us:
“I used to mostly draw with a charcoal pencil – so that’s in black and white. But during lockdown I started coming out of my comfort zone a bit, and started doing colour drawings with graphite pencils. My friends often told me that they like them when I shared them on Facebook, and that the colour drawings cheered them up.”
Chris mentioned all of this to his Support Coordinator, and this started a discussion which ended up with them arranging an exhibition of Chris’s work in the Woodlands Community Meeting Room in Glasgow.
Above: Chris’s with his artwork on display at the Woodlands Community Meeting Room in Glasgow
Many of Chris’s drawings are of people, but they’re not all real people. Chris says: “I draw lots of stuff. I do things from TV shows or movie characters, or I’ll do cartoon characters or I’ll do superheroes. Things along those lines.”
But not all of Chris’s work is of made-up characters: “I sometimes draw bands of musicians and things like that.” And Chris uses this as a chance to share his work in a really lovely way.
“I go along to shows – plays or concerts – and I’ll pick a member of the band or the cast. Obviously I can’t draw them all, but I’ll draw someone. And then after the show, I’ll go to the stage door and I’ll present them with the drawing. Just as a little gift for them. People almost always ask if they are allowed to keep it! And I say, ‘Of course, that’s what I’ve done it for, it’s for you to take away.’ And they’re delighted. People giving me hugs and sometimes they’re nearly crying. It’s just very nice to see someone happy with something that I’ve done for them, and to see how much it means to them.”
Above: Chris’s work in the Woodlands Community Meeting Room in Glasgow
We will be sharing how we went about understanding our impact, especially the impact of our relationships with people. Created in collaboration with Matter of Focus, the report shines a light on the difference we make and how we make it.
We’ll also be highlighting key words from our work. Each of the words below is one of the themes we noticed from our conversations with people we support. At Future Pathways, we ask people how it feels to work with us. It helps us to improve our service and to learn.
A lot of people register with us for support. This means that currently people are waiting longer than we would like. It is not always possible for us to say how long you will have to wait. We understand that this can be frustrating.
We look forward to providing support for you as soon as we can.
Many people register with us to get support. But we are not able to support everyone at the same time. This means we cannot offer support right away and so we have a waiting list.
No, we are not able to tell you how long you will have to wait. We do not want to give you a waiting time that might change as we know people can feel let down by that. We support people for different lengths of time, depending on their goals and needs. Because of this, it is difficult to know when we can start working with people on the waitlist.
We have increased the number of Support Coordinators. We now have more than 35.
At the moment, we cannot offer direct support while you are waiting.
We can point you to other services that may be able to offer support while you wait. This includes statutory services, like the NHS or housing services. Future Pathways does not replace statutory services and cannot offer the same support that those services provide.
We prioritise older adults (people over 65) and people living with a terminal illness. For everyone else, we offer support in the order they registered with us.
Once you have registered with us, we will send you an Information Pack. The pack will confirm you have been registered. It will also give you more information about Future Pathways. It will include a Support Agreement for you to sign and send back to us. We will send you an Information Pack within 2 weeks of you registering. The Information Pack is also on our website and you can view it here.
If you would like to get a copy of the feedback form by post instead, you can let us know by:
During normal working hours always contact your GP for urgent advice and treatment.
When your GP or Dental Practice is closed and you cannot wait until they are open, you should phone NHS 111 service for out-of-hours advice. The service provides urgent care advice and mental health support.
Call 999 or go to A&E now if you do not feel you can keep yourself or someone else safe.
The Samaritans offer a safe place for you to talk any time you like. You can talk in your own way about whatever is going on. They have a helpline, email service, letter service and a self-help app. Helpline open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Breathing Space is a free phone and webchat service. It is confidential. It is for anyone in Scotland over the age of 16. You can contact them if you are experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety. Open 6pm to 2am Monday to Thursday, and 6pm to 6am Friday to Sunday.
Shout is a free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging support service for anyone who is struggling to cope.
This is a further update about Future Pathways’ fund. The fund is used to help support the people we work with. We call this our Discretionary Fund or DF for short. However, below, we will simply refer to it as ‘the fund’.
The fund is one of the different types of support that people can access from Future Pathways. It is used to support people to work towards their goals.
We wrote to everyone in active support on 23rd October about two changes to fund. Since then, the Scottish Government has offered us extra support.
Ministers are keen to sustain support for people who are registered with Future Pathways. They have listened to the views of survivors and the Alliance Leadership Team.
The Discretionary Fund is one of the types of support that can be used to help people work towards the goals in their individual support plan.
If you have any questions, you can:
We work with adults who are experiencing mental ill-health and, in some cases, additional issues that impact on their ability to live a meaningful and fulfilling lives. We are a progressive charity, and continue to maintain a position at the leading edge of mental health recovery within the Highlands of Scotland.
We work within the Recovery ethos, which supports people to live productive lives even if symptoms persist. We have a 23-bed Recovery Centre in Inverness, which provides support to supported people in 12 self-contained flats and 11 single rooms. The Recovery Centre was the first facility of this kind in Scotland.
In the community we provide Support and Care at Home services to people living in their own homes within local environs from Inverness, Invergordon, Lochaber and Caithness. Within the Inverness and Easter Ross services we also facilitate supported accommodation services covering 24 hours each day 7 days each week.
It was founded as Birchwood Highland 1987, to support the closure of Craig Dunain – one of the old-fashioned asylums outside of Inverness. The Community Care Act was looking to close these huge institutions located on the outskirts of towns and cities across Britain. The Not for Profit organisation was founded as a response to this government legislation. We started as a community-based service, moving people that had spent lots of their adult life – if not all of their adult life – in old-fashioned asylums, and moving them back into properties in the Inverness area where they could be supported in a more homelyand person-centred way aimed at enabling them to become part of their own communities.
We quickly realised how big the Highland area is! And how far people had travelled to Craig Dunain. When they were leaving, they wanted to go back to areas that they were more familiar with and may have some family connections. In response, we opened a service in Easter Ross, and then one in Lochaber.
We also opened Birchwood House at that time, which was set up to offer people who still needed 24-hour care and support with the added skills and knowledge provided by qualified nursing staff. The hope was that either they would later be able to move on to supported accommodation, or if not that they would be able to live there, but in a much smaller, more person-focused environment than the big institution. Birchwood House was updated and reopened in 2017 as The Recovery Centre, offering the opportunity for people to work toward their own personal goals by managing the symptoms they may be experiencing.
Now, we also work in Caithness offering both Support Services and Care at Home to people living in the County. We cover a huge area of the Highlands, but there are still a few gaps, just because of the size and geography of the Highlands. We continue to lobby for equality of access to services.
In Highland it’s a bit different from other areas: adult services are commissioned by NHS Highland, they are our biggest commissioners of services.
It’s usually either because someone has been or is being discharged from hospital and will need ongoing support to live as independently as possible at home. People and families come to their notice for other reasons, not necessarily just through hospital. So social work often make referrals directly.
As a service, we have to realise that people do live quite isolated lives, and access to services is hugely challenging. Over the years, living in these communities has actually become even more of a challenge, especially right now due to the cost of living crisis. Having supported staff and people using our services through covid – further isolating people – we now face the cost of living crisis. And, of course, accessing services in the Highlands comes at an additional cost.
The cost of providing services in remote areas is not really considered by Scottish Government and therefore our commissioners.
It is right now. A big project at the moment is to reach out to people in the community and find ways of how to support them, whether that be on a one-to-one basis in their own home, or as part of group, or using new technology. I guess one of the positives from covid was that we all got used to communicating using Zoom and Teams and those types of things.
NHS, of course, use a lot of these technologies for appointments, especially in remote areas. However, that does have challenges about internet access and the cost of that. It’s certainly becoming a preferred way for younger people. They have their mobile phones, but a small screen can be a challenge for older people.
We’ve recently opened a Discovery College, which works with people in the community. (Not necessarily people who have been commissioned for support, but people that are out there and don’t know where to go, or how to access services.)
People will be able to drop in and see who we are and what we’re about, and they can work on their own objectives. We’ll provide some learning courses that will be certificated, but over and above that there’ll be help to prevent isolation. Being able to come along and have a chat and a cup of tea with people who are peers. We have three Peer Support Workers who all have lived experience.
The full range. However, people who have been referred through NHS partners tend to live with significant mental ill-health: schizophrenia, personality disorder, bipolar…. but I think that what’s missing there are people who have anxiety and depression and just live with it. They never come to notice of services. The aim of the Discovery College is for people to reach out and find us.
It’s probably impossible to say, because people who live in cities have access to more services, so they’re more likely to come to the notice of those services.
And looking at it the other way, the outcome of people living with mental ill-health, or trauma, or any of these type of challenges, is that they have less life opportunities and therefore often end up in areas of deprivation and poverty. So, I think it works both ways.
I got a call from Future Pathways last year. You were looking for a provider to work with a particular individual that was being supported by staff based outside the Highland area. The individual was then offered a number of services in the area, and chose Centred as their preferred support provider.
The person, very fortunately, lives centrally and close to services. So we were able to provide support reasonably quickly, without anyone having to do lots of travelling.
Since then we’ve become an approved provider. There’s a lot of information that’s needed! All our staff are trained, and we’re fully insured. We’re registered with the Care Inspectorate, all our workers are SSSC-registered.
We’re really looking forward to working more with Future Pathways, and hopefully across the Highlands. Inverness is the main hub of need, but don’t forget that we are available to provide support from Caithness to Lochaber.