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Mental Health Awareness: Q&A with the CEO of Moodswings

Mental Health Awareness: Q&A with the CEO of Moodswings

Moodswings is a Manchester-based charity which helps people recover from a range of mental health issues.  The Moodswings HQ is based just around the corner from MeadowSide and earlier this week we went to visit Linda, the CEO to find out more about what the charity does and how you can help – just in time for #WorldMentalHealthDay.

Moodswings does a lot within the community. They have recently sponsored an award-winning garden at Tatton RHS Flower Show. “Every Cloud has a Silver Lining” was designed to highlight the work that Moodswings does. Now the garden will be moved to Angel Meadow Park for generations to enjoy.

The charity is also due to open an affordable cafe. Thumbs Up will be ran by volunteers and Moodswings members which hopes to be a community hub and a safe place to socialise.

Who are “Moodswings”?

Moodswings has been around since 1999 supporting people in Manchester and over the country with mental health issues, mainly through our helpline. We aim to be the friends and family that some people haven’t got, and we want to help people lead ordinary lives and feel the best that they can.

Who do you help?

Most of the people we help are from Manchester, but we run a helpline that can be called from anywhere, so we get calls from people all over country and have even had people ring from abroad before.

We provide support to anyone who is suffering from what we call emotional distress, which can be anything from not feeling yourself anymore or not feeling very well and lonely to people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or other psychotic problems.

We offer support to the friends and family of those who are suffering as well. We educate loved ones on how to provide the best kind of aid and we look after their emotional health because it can be quite distressing for them too.

How do you help people?

Most people get in touch with us initially through the helpline which runs 10am – 4pm every Monday to Friday.

From there we assess their needs and if they require more intense support, we can invite them in and provide 1-1 support from a mentor and make goals to improve their mental health.

We also do group work and activities such as singing, drama, exercise, gardening, walking and craft. It’s all about building confidence and making friends and getting back into the community.We provide courses on things like anxiety management, sleeping better, self-esteem and managing psychosis.

Our mentors help a lot of students at the local universities to finish their degree’s without letting mental health issues get in the way. With Manchester being such a big student city and recognising most people who are diagnosed with a mental health problem are between the ages of 18 and 26, we can support anywhere between 80-100 students at any one time.

Is there a link between mood and art + wellbeing?

Yes, I think there is a link between mood and wellbeing and doing things that you enjoy. Whether it’s art or sport, going to the cinema or lying in the bath with a scented candle – it’s about things you engage with and make you feel good. It’s good to distract yourself. Especially with those who are anxious, distracting yourself helps you not to worry because worrying doesn’t actually do anything, it makes no difference at all.

How have attitudes towards mental health changed since the charity was founded in 1999?

I think that mental health is spoken about much more these days. Hopefully people are wiser to the idea that our emotional health and well-being should be nurtured as well as our physical health needs.

However, we need to be careful against labelling every emotional distress or disappointment as illness.  Bad things happen in life and we need to be resilient to cope with them as well as having a good support network around us.

What can people do in their every-day life to maintain a healthy mind?

Get your sleeping pattern sorted out! Sleep is really important and sometimes people are sleeping too much and spending too much time in bed and not getting a deep sleep. Sleep is vital for feeling well, feeling refreshed and feeling less anxious.

Exercise! By that I don’t mean going to the gym but getting out and being active and making yourself feel good by engaging with activities.

Lastly; eating little and often. Especially for anxious people, it’s good to keep your blood sugars up so you feel the effects of anxiety less.

It’s good to be surrounded by other people. It’s important to have time alone but we know isolation and loneliness can lead to depression and anxiety. This is one of the reasons why we are opening the community café in November because we want to relieve anxiety and loneliness in this area, which is very urban but doesn’t have those community hubs that we aim to be.

How can people get involved with the Moodswings charity?

We are a charity who relies heavily on volunteers, mainly for the helpline and the workshops. If anyone wants to volunteer with the workshops, then we can send them an application form.

We also we want people to come and help with the cafe in any way they can – it’s all about the community so whether it’s being a friendly face or being able to provide a good chat, all contributions and support are greatly received.

To find out more about Moodswings, visit their website:  If you’re suffering from mental health issues or feel you need to talk to someone the helpline is 0161 832 3736 10am – 4pm weekdays. The Thumbs Up Café will open next month and is based at 36 New Mount St, M4 4DE – if you’re interested in volunteering get in touch.

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