Mind Your Head to launch new mental health support services after £300k funding boost

The Mind Your Head team (back row, from left): Committee members Graeme Howell, Paul Nadin and Gill Gover (vice-chairwoman). Front: Project manager Anouska Civico, Emma Perring (secretary), Katrina Wiseman (chairwoman), Nicola Halcrow and Kirsten Nicolson (treasurer). Missing from the photo is Sheila Thomas. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Mental health charity Mind Your Head has been given a major funding boost with more than £300,000 over the next three years to launch new services.

The charity, which has received huge support from the public since it was formed in 2005, is hoping to branch out into support schemes and employ five new staff members.

For the past two years it has been focusing on low-level support to help those in need, though the new service will fill a gap in helping folk in the community with a view to also freeing up time for GPs and nurses.

Project manager Anouska Civico said the funding would greatly help the charity and it had exceeded their expectations.

The charity had relied on donations from the public previously which showed the amazing support from people in Shetland.

“This funding will solely pay for the support service,” Mrs Civico said.

“It’s for tier one, low-level things; I suppose it’s the first point of call when you’re feeling unwell and feeling something is not right.”

The money will also be used to help people supporting a person with mental ill health.

Although this is seen as a very exciting new direction for the charity, it is still committed to doing the work that it had become known for.

For the last 11 years, Mind Your Head has campaigned to make Shetland a place where people talk about mental ill health freely and without judgment.

Men revealing on video their mental health anguish, the “Grubby Hut” initiative and more recently, the “Don’t Bottle It Up” campaign are some of the work done, along with the annual fun run and walk.

Mrs Civico said: “For the last two years, my role along with the day-to- day running of the charity has been to design and develop the support service along with securing the funding.

“To finally see it all come together and to know first-hand what impact this will have on individuals is a great sense of achievement for the charity.

“The support given to Mind Your Head is overwhelming not just financially but we have had so much support in helping us to achieve this long-term goal.

“Despite the funding for the service, there is still a need for the charity to raise money and for the community to help us with this so that we can continue our work raising awareness of mental health issues.”

Nicola Halcrow, a founding member of the charity and a member of the committee, described securing the funding as “a huge step”.


There’s so many folk that have been affected by mental health and suicides and we want to be able to reach out to as many folk as possible. NICOLA HALCROW


She said: “It has always been an aspiration from the outset that we would develop a support service and we’ve had some false starts along the way. We thought we had secured funding and then it didn’t come through.

“I think with this last application we have really worked hard to put together a good proposal and worked to develop a good support service.”

Ms Halcrow said the charity had also been working with other agencies and had a good grasp of what it felt was needed. It was important for folk to be able to recognise the signs of mental health, and to ensure more people were speaking about it.

She said: “Having the likes of Mind Your Head in a small community like Shetland, it really has been something for folk to associate mental health with and maybe a place to go.

“There’s so many folk that have been affected by mental health and suicides and we want to be able to reach out to as many folk as possible.”

Chairwoman Katrina Wiseman said: “We are very excited to launch our much needed new support service, namely the Wellness Programme and the Wellness Together Programme, which fills a gap in mental health service provision in Shetland.

“This is a major step change for Mind Your Head moving from an awareness-raising organisation to service delivery for the community.

“Our new team of staff will help people, and their carers, who need some encouragement or advice on what they can do to support their mental wellbeing and better meet their emotional and physical needs so they are more emotionally resilient and happier.

“I am delighted to be part of the strongly committed committee responsible for Mind Your Head, and we have now set up as a Scottish charitable incorporated organisation to allow us to take this new service forward.

“We have an exciting year ahead as we hope to have appointed a service manager by the end of May, the remainder of staff by the end of June, and to begin service delivery in August.”

The Wellness Together Programme is to support people aged 18 and over who are supporting/caring for someone experiencing a change in their mental health. It includes:

● One-to-one support sessions offering guided self-help techniques/coping strategies;
● A planned activities programme which will include: dog walking group, and music therapy;
● “Grubby Hut” sessions at male-dominated workplaces to talk to men about mental health, over their lunch break;
● Signposting – directing people who are not eligible for the service to alternative agencies.


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