Mental health is something that we all have, just like psychical health. Hardships that we go through can cause our mental health to deteriorate, which can then result in the development of mental illness. 1 in 4 British adults experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any one year, and this rate is on the rise. Free Your Mind is a new not-for-profit organisation that helps people who suffer from mental illness.
In the summer of 2012, Natasha Benjamin found herself suffering from PTSD, anxiety panic disorder and acute depression. Seeking help from her GP, she was put on antidepressants and referred to a psychotherapist for CBT. While these interventions helped a bit, it was not until Natasha took up her own course of action that she really began to heal.
The action Natasha took was to create the blog ‘Free Your Mind – From Pain to Peace’ in which she put her experiences of mental illness into words. Natasha writes: “I slowly began to feel an empowering release through the written word, started to uncover who I was, and look back at my past from the outside in.”
What is more, the website began to attract others with similar stories to Natasha’s. Organically, the personal blog evolved into a thriving online community, and into the dynamic and multidimensional mental health resource it is today.
Today, Free Your Mind is a thriving mental health community. In addition to our online forum, we offer workshops, talks, events and one-to-ones – all of which are free to use – with several more projects on the horizon. Our team consists of Natasha (Founder and Managing Director), Guy (Fundraising and Relationship Manager), 7 ambassadors (who spread the word about our work), and 10 volunteers (who help us with all our events). Between us, we have substantial backgrounds in marketing, care work, psychotherapy and mentoring. Natasha has also just been made a part of two important committees: one overseeing mental health provision in Waltham Forest, and the other for Rethink Mental Illness.
ABOUT CONTACT APP
Imagine you went through a period in your life where you suddenly – and lastingly – lost all confidence in yourself, where leaving the house suddenly – and inexplicably – overwhelmed you with fear, or where your support network – friends and family – suddenly evaporated. How would you feel? What would you do? What would you need?
People who suffer from mental illness, bullying or domestic violence frequently lose faith in both themselves and others, and so become isolated. All alone (sometimes at the mercy of an abusive other), they feel less and less able to cope and trust anyone, let alone recover. GPs, counsellors and even Helplines seem a world away, because people even lose faith in their capacity to make themselves look presentable or hold a conversation. They feel beyond help.
But what if there was a way to reach – and reach out to – those isolated people? Free Your Mind’s Contact App is a much less daunting way for people to connect, and start to get the help they need. It bridges the gap between complete seclusion and demanding therapy-programmes; and it enables the person who wants to help, but doesn’t necessarily have a lot of spare time or money, to offer valuable support for a person in need.
The idea for the App came when Natasha found herself being repeatedly approached by people who loved what Free Your Mind was doing and wanted to get involved, but had no time to do this between their working hours and home life. During this time Natasha was also contacted by individuals who needed someone to be there for them but had no one to turn to, one young female, for instance, stating that she had no friends at all. Natasha was saddened by this and offered to mentor the young lady and felt that no one should be without a friend. Looking back at her own experience of having a friend to be there for her through the dark times, she often credits them for the reason why she is still here today.
That was when the idea for the Contact App came about. No matter how busy we are, what item do we usually always have with us? Our Mobile phones!
Bringing mentoring in-line with the technologies of today, this app aimed at people aged from 16-30 will facilitate supportive mentorship when and where it is needed.
Mentors simply download Contact App and register. (We request a one-off £1 donation from users to cover running costs, but otherwise the app is totally free.) Prospective mentors will then be contacted for a discussion about the work; provided with guidelines for their prospective role; and asked to complete a DBS check. They will then be paired with a mentee, and the mentorship relationship can begin…
Mentee’s likewise download Contact App and register – creating a profile page the way they want it, and a username, for privacy. Admin will then pair the user with a suitable mentor, who will then contact the mentee with a greeting message. The mentee can then communicate with their mentor whenever they need support or advice, by messaging and/or by arranging in advance an electronic chat session with the mentor.
All members will also be able to directly access our webpage of links to essential mental health resources (NHS Direct, Samaritans, SANEline etc.). Members will also receive information about other mental health initiatives, events, facilities, workshops etc. that may be of interest.
In time, we aim to facilitate hundreds, even thousands, of people to become mentors and mentees, for the isolated person to gain a contactable friend using a moderated and private username-based chat platform. All mentors will be DBS checked and personally met with, to ensure the safety of the mentee. The mentor will then be matched up with the appropriate mentee by Free Your Mind and then the powerful human connection can begin. (Conversations will be moderated to assure appropriate mentorship; mentors will receive consultation when needed; and mentees can contact us with any issues they have).
With your help we can continuously support many of those who feel isolated and lonely: with over 7 billion people on this planet now, loneliness shouldn’t be an issue for anyone.
Please donate and help those most in need of Contact.
The £6900 will allow us to do everything. The App is already designed, so your contribution will go towards production, promotion and testing. Immerse Digital will handle the production, technical testing and some of the promotion of the product, and then we will put the app into practice, with our pilot group of mentors and mentees. Once this trial period is complete: the app will be ready to help others...