Just Like Our Bodies – Our Minds Need Care Too
To highlight World Mental Health Day, Volunteer Now are shining the spotlight on the charity Fresh Light. We have spoken to a past service-user who was happy to share her very positive experience with them. Jen was looking for professional counselling services since the NHS waiting list can be long and unpredictable, and private health care can be too expensive.
On their official website the charity states, that: “Fresh Light is a ministry of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland to adults, available to all faiths and none. Operating from a Christian understanding of life and the world, volunteers are committed to standards of best practice and ethics in their counselling. The ministry we offer seeks to bring comfort, strength, peace, hope and transformation in difficult seasons of life.” For Jen, hearing of an organisation which offered help to people regardless of denomination and beliefs was very encouraging.
The staff and volunteers of the charity treat service users with respect and make them feel valued. Before starting therapy, Fresh Light carries out a brief assessment meeting to pair the service user with a suitable professional counselor. Clients can also choose either a male or female counsellor.
Here, Jen gives us her own thoughts…..
Q: If there was one thing to be said about the importance of mental health what would you say?
A: I think many people associate the term ‘mental health’ with the side that’s negative. Mental health as a term is neutral, which we can describe with positive and negative adjectives. So, in saying that, mental health is just something we need to be aware of and nurture and learn how to remain healthy or become healthier. We all deserve to be healthy and I think it’s so easy to improve our mental health – just like sensible eating or getting a check – up with the dentist is good for our bodies. You owe it to yourself to look after your mental health.
Q: What would you tell people who want to help in practical ways and volunteer in the area of mental health?
A: Don’t try and carry those things for people, instead listen when you have the capacity, and learn where to direct people for professional help. There are so many ways to help rather than becoming therapy for someone as this can be destructive for relationships. Know when to set boundaries and know where to signpost someone for the help they need. Love doesn’t have to fix things, sometimes if all you can do is give a hug or make lunch or have coffee with someone, that’s enough for your role.
Q: What would you say to people who might struggle with mental health issues but maybe haven’t acknowledged it yet or haven’t yet taken any practical steps to get better?
A: There is no shame in just chatting about it. Many people are intimidated by the thought of counselling or therapy, because those words carry weight but the truth is it’s just talking. Talking about the things that make you who you are, good and bad.
There is definitely a need for more equipped and educated volunteers in the mental health area in Northern Ireland. So don’t hesitate to help and don’t hesitate to ask for help! Just like our bodies – our minds need care too!
To find out more about Fresh Light, click here.
To browse other opportunities relating to Mental Health have a look on our volunteering search facility on www.volunteernow.co.uk