Additional mental health support is available to all residents in Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire (Pennine Lancashire) thanks to a partnership between the local NHS and Big White Wall.
With thousands of people having been urged to stay at home to protect their physical health due to COVID-19, it is understandable many may struggle with their mental health as a result. Therefore, NHS mental health leads in Pennine Lancashire are encouraging residents to utilise free resources such as Big White Wall.
Big White Wall, which is available at www.bigwhitewall.com, provides a clinically safe and anonymous online community providing peer to peer support, personal assessments and self-help courses for those who need it.
Dr Rakesh Sharma, local GP and mental health clinical lead at NHS Blackburn with Darwen and NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “After months of lockdown and measures now beginning to ease we are hearing more and more of people feeling isolated and lonely which can have a real negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing and lead to an increase in mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
“It is vitally important at this time that people continue to follow Government guidance around social distancing and staying at home as much as possible.
“However, we are committed to supporting people affected by their mental health in Pennine Lancashire by providing varied and high-quality services for them to access.
“Big White Wall is a fantastic tool for people who are struggling with their mental health as they can log in anonymously and express how they are feeling to a community of people who feel the same way, who can understand and support.
“And for those who struggle to put how they feel into words, they can ‘draw a brick’ to express the difficulties they are facing, which many people find quite therapeutic and relieving. There are other resources to help such as a range of online courses, for example to help sleep, anxiety and worry, and many more.”
Henry Jones, chief executive of Big White Wall, said: “We understand prolonged lockdown and social distancing measures put in place by the Government are taking a toll on everyone’s mental health, especially during the summer weather conditions.
“At Big White Wall we have seen activity and registrations across the service more than double, with 60 per cent of conversations over the past month discussing COVID-19. In response to the pandemic, we have expanded our clinical and on-duty teams to effectively moderate increased activity across our community and manage risk. We have also added additional relevant content and signposting across the service.
“If any Blackburn with Darwen or East Lancashire resident is experiencing heightened feelings of isolation, loneliness, stress or worry, I would encourage them to use Big White Wall for free to keep connected and receive support from our community. We can all help each other through these uncertain times.”
The Big White Wall is constantly monitored by ‘wall guides’ who are on hand 24/7 and will intervene if members seem particularly low and at risk and provide personal support on a one-to-one basis.
Big White Wall also offers members the opportunity to take online tests to measure their anxiety or depression levels to set goals and track their progress.
Online courses with health professionals covering things like sleep problems, stopping smoking and anger management are also available.
For more information or to sign up to Big White Wall quickly, anonymously and free of charge, visit www.bigwhitewall.com