The coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact on people’s mental and emotional health. Many of us are worried about coronavirus and are struggling with feelings of anxiety, worry, fear and depression.
Recent Study Results
According to a recent study carried out into the mental health of people across Wales during the pandemic, as many as 50% of us could be suffering from some sort of mental distress.
The study, led by Cardiff University’s Professor Robert Snowden and Swansea University’s Professor Nicola Gray, looked at the effect of the pandemic on mental health with a view to understanding the issues affecting communities and informing us on how to shape support services for the future.
Even before the pandemic, mental health awareness and wellbeing was a key theme for Bridgend Soroptimists. Club President, Sharon Dixon, explains, “This is an area that has always interested me and I wanted us as a Club to understand more about it. When I say wellbeing, it’s not just the wellbeing of others, it’s also about self-care and looking after ourselves. We need to take care of ourselves so that we can help others.”
“Self-care is doing what makes you happy, seeing friends, catching up on the telephone, taking a long walk or having a glass of wine on the beach. During this pandemic, being mindful of our mental health and wellbeing has been more important than ever. It has been really good to see how our members have kept connected and have been supporting each other in this uncertain time.”
Very early on during the first lockdown, the Club started meeting virtually. “For all of us this was a new experience,” says Sharon. “We dipped our toe in the water and, although our first meetings on Zoom were lots of chat and exchanging of experiences, we soon progressed to more meaningful sessions with discussions, guest speakers and focused service activities.”
“Members helped each other with the technology and those who were less tech-savvy and not very confident about using video conferencing have gradually been encouraged with new faces joining us at every meeting.”
It hasn’t only been about technology. Members have kept in touch with each other through regular phone calls, as well as socially-distanced gatherings when restrictions were eased.
“We quickly realised that staying connected was vitally important, particularly as many of our members live alone.” explains Sharon. “We worked hard to include everyone, phoning each other for a quick chat and to reassure folk that they weren’t ‘on their own’. Several groups of members started to “meet” regularly, by phone, on WhatsApp, or Zoom, some over coffee in the morning, others for a teatime chat and we even have a Saturday evening G&T Glam Squad who have met every week since last March!
As restrictions continued, it was clear that face-to-face meetings were unlikely to resume for some time and a virtual programme was put in place for 2021.
In January, ‘Super Saturday Soroptimists’ was introduced – a wellbeing, gentle exercise and mindfulness session led by President Sharon. President Elect Gaynor Hoare says, “These are great sessions and we regularly see 12 or 13 members gather together on Zoom. It’s so good to meet up, do some exercise and chat – and does wonders for our physical and emotional wellbeing all from the safety of our own homes!”
The Club has also included wellbeing into their fundraising activities. “Walking has been a key part of lockdown for many of us,” says Sharon. “For some it was taking their own dog for a walk, whilst others met dog walkers when they were out-and-about. It got us thinking and we looked for ways to bring these various aspects together. The Virtual Dog Show is a fun way to pick up on this and we are able to raise money for local mental health services too.”Entries to the Virtual Dog Show are open from Valentine’s Day on 14th February until Mother’s Day on 14th March. Find out more here.
Upcoming meetings include an Easter Bonnet Parade, international friendship sessions with link clubs in Finland, Canada and Australia, and speakers on subjects as diverse as domestic violence, journalism and conservation. The Club is also continuing to take action by supporting the local women’s refuge, lobbying local politicians and participating in International Women’s Day.
President Sharon has no doubt that looking after our mental wellbeing has been vital over the past months. “Adapting and adjusting to a new situation is so much easier when you have the support of others. I am proud to be a member of Bridgend Soroptimists.”
Would you like to get involved with the Soroptimists?
If you’d like to get involved with us and find out more about being a Soroptimist or if you have an idea for how Bridgend Soroptimists can help you or your organisation, please do get in touch with us using the contact form on the website. Alternatively, you can email us direct at Bridgend Soroptimist Secretary.
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