Walk and Talk has become an important part of Peace of Mind and is a valuable alternative or complement to more formal talking therapy.
"I went on a few Walk and Talks and after discussion with my Peace of Mind coach, we decided together that leading the group was ideal to do. I was keen to come up with alternative routes. I became a kind of 'routemaster' and increasingly took over the planning of the route. I also bought a guided tour aspect to the Walk and Talk. I’ve planned a diversity of routes to include different areas e.g. the canal, quiet roads, through parks.
I also developed a ‘First Tuesday of the Month Walk’, which offers something different, for example out of the local area. I give people a choice of starting at the Shoreditch Trust Healthy Living Centre, (which means a long walk!) or meeting us further on the route. On one of these Tuesdays we went into the City of London. I meet the Peace of Mind Project Manager once a month to go over things and feel I could come to her if I needed support or had a problem.
It gets me out and about which is good for both my mental and physical health. Also I enjoy researching the routes and imparting that knowledge to the participants and they always seem appreciative which in turn helps boost my self-esteem." Bruce, Walk and Talk Leader
At the beginning of 2015 Julia was out of work and feeling seriously depressed. She went to see her doctor and found that she would have to wait eight months for psychological therapy through the NHS. A friend told her about the City and Hackney Wellbeing Network and she filled in the referral on-line.
Julia got a reply to the referral the next day, and very quickly had an appointment to see her Network Navigator at the Shoreditch Trust. Julia says that the quickness of the response, and the fact that people called when they said they would, was very important when she was down. She says that if organisations appear unresponsive, or if there is a long wait for treatment, it only tends to confirm your negative views of yourself.
The Network Navigator gave Julia the opportunity to talk through the difficulties she had been having. “She genuinely did care,” Julia says now “She really made the time and that chat lifted me in itself.” The Navigator told her about the therapeutic groups and activities that the Network offered. Julia initially had concerns about discussing personal issues in groups, but she found her Navigator supportive and decided to give it a try.
The first course Julia took was Stress Management, which she says was “incredible”. She found that she really liked the group environment because of the peer support it involved. She realised that when she was talking about her own difficulties, she was helping others by sharing her experiences. This immediately gave Julia more of a sense of purpose. She says that depression can be very internalising and that the group helped her to take her thoughts outside herself, and to use them in a constructive way.
Julia did other courses such as Just Bead It and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), and then went on to train to be a co-facilitator herself. She got a call the day before the courses to remind her to attend, and her Navigator checked in with her after they finished to see what was and wasn’t working.
Julia says that the courses got her into a place where she could go back to work, and that the commitment of her Navigator has been a real support. She now has a really good job that she enjoys very much. She says that the Network was an integral part of her process of recovery, and that it gave her much more resilience and self-esteem. Julia*, 2015
*Name has been changed