en English

Coronavirus: online therapy service to offer free sessions across UK

An online therapy service is to offer free 20-minute sessions aimed at vulnerable older people and others who are self-isolating or struggling, after therapists across the UK volunteered their help.

The Help Hub was originally intended to serve a small area in west Oxfordshire but will expand nationally when it launches this week following an influx of support.

“Thanks to the kindness of therapists right across the country willing to work for free, the idea snowballed in the space of less than a fortnight to the extent that we can now cover the whole of the UK,” said Ruth Chaloner, the founder of the service, who is asking therapists to email her at info@helphub.co.uk if they want to get involved.

Chaloner is now setting up a second scheme to help the hardest-to-reach members of her local community. She hopes this is another idea that could be extended nationally.

Full story: The Guardian

Author: Philip Challinor
Categories: Uncategorized

Coronavirus: useful links

We are collecting information and links to useful local resources which we are updating regularly.

These links may be useful in helping to deal with the situation:


National Health Service information 

Local Mutual Aid groups in the borough, organised by ward with useful contact details

NHS tracker – NHS are tracking as many people as possible, well or ill to identify virus hot spots

Islington Council’s guidance page

Government information site

Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

Anxiety UK: information and links

Benefits and coronavirus

National Mind information and support

Happiful: 8 ways to help yourself and others

Recovery College: mental health online courses

Recovery College coronavirus info

Future Learn: online courses in various subjects

Yoga with Adriene: free yoga online – YouTube video here

Self-care tips CMBM

Self-care tips National Mind

Self-care tips Tiny Buddha

Looking after yourself and others in self-isolation

Sleepio: online sleep improvement programme


Self-compassion exercises


More mindfulness

Mindful poetry

More mindful poetry

Meditation and mindfulness – app with hundred of meditations, sleep sounds & more (in partnership with TFL all customers can get two months of free access until 30 August 2020 – use code THETUBE)

Wellbeing service – NHS approved – tools and resources to help you feel better

NHS apps library – most are free

Free My Possible Self app

Free MyCognitionPro app

Free online university-level courses 

Open University – online learning

Inspirational lectures

Facebook group to support people self-isolating who have no social network

People’s Army Islington – local support with shopping, dog walking, collecting prescriptions, friendly phone call

British Museum podcast

Rethink Mental Health – managing your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

Jack Monroe – recipes on small budgets

London LGBTIQ+ Mutual Aid Support

Mental Health Forum – online support for service users

Outside Project – LGBTQ support – Outside Project are hosting a few different remote support sessions, including one weekly on Mondays. Contact them to be added to their Whatsapp support groups

Self-help and therapist resources

FP Covid19 Mutual Support

Sport England – compilation of online/free/app-based workouts for all abilities

Tate Gallery – virtual tour of Tate’s resources

Culture & Entertainment

Globe TV – Shakespeare’s plays at the Globe Theatre

Joe Wicks, Body Coach – YouTube workouts for all abilities

Google – Virtual tours of galleries, opera houses etc.

National Gallery – Virtual tour

National Portrait Gallery – Digital content from past exhibitions and the Galley’s collection

Internet archive – free books, films and audio (mostly oldies that are out of copyright)

Draw A Stickman – interactive drawing, handy for those with young children

BFI Flare – 14 days’ free trial if you sign up

BFI Player – short archive films to watch for free

British Museum podcast

Social Distancing Festival – art and performance from all over the world

Time Out – listing for online events

Free books online

Free queer films online

Chatter Pack – long list of online activities organised by category

Despard Road Music Channel – music and visuals made by service users


Islington Crisis Team – 020 3317 6333


As-Suffa Institute – Coronavirus self-isolation support, food pack delivery for people over 65 who are self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms

Certitude London – out-of-hours peer support over the phone. Freephone: 0300 123 1922. Text: 07889 756 087 or 07889 756 083

QueerCare – resources for support care in and in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic

Age UK Islington – Helpline – 020 7281 6018, email gethelp@ageukislington.org.uk, Mon to Fri, 9 – 5pm.
Over the phone support to connect to emergency food and practical advice

London Renters Union – Support & information for people anxious about their rent

Coronavirus Tech Handbook – Technological information and support for organisations who need to re-organise their responses in light of COVID-19

COVID-19 Mutual Aid groups – Local mutual aid support groups that service users can join at their own risk (if they know how to use WhatsApp/Facebook), organised in Boroughs and Wards 

Mental Health Forum – online support for service users

Help on Your Doorstep had to close face to face services, but are still supporting residents via telephone (020 3931 6080) and email connect@helponyourdoorstep.com.

People’s Army Islington – local support with shopping, dog walking, collecting prescriptions, friendly phone call

Whatsapp support groups for Mildmay, Holloway, Highbury, Hillrise, Tollington, Finsbury, Junction, St George’s

Newington Green Action Group – offering mutual aid support, shopping, errands, help if you haven’t got access to internet at home – phone 0333 050 9318

Islington COVID-19 Mutual Aid – Facebook page with lots of local support offered 

We Are Islington – Helpline set up by the Council. 020 7527 8222 – Phone lines are busy – email weareislington@islington.gov.uk

Free meals – charities serving takeaways rather than sit-down

National Domestic Abuse helpline – 0808 200 0247

Rape crisis services

National LGBTQ+ domestic abuse helpline – 0800 999 5428

Men’s Advice Line – confidential helpline, email and webchat service for male victims of domestic abuse: 0808 801 0327

The Mix – free information and support for under 25s in the UK – 0808 808 4994

RIghts of Women advice lines

Women’s Aid – including Live Chat, email, the Survivors Forum and local services

Respect Phoneline – a confidential helpline, email and webchat service for domestic abuse perpetrators and those supporting them: 0808 8024040

Silverline – National charity offering telephone befriending to people over 60

YogaHome – free online yoga and mindfulness classes


M&S Mondays and Thursdays – first hour of trading dedicated to cater over 70s and vulnerable customers

Sainsbury’s Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all our supermarkets will dedicate 08.00-09.00 to serving elderly customers, disabled customers and carers. Online option for people to register themselves as disabled and vulnerable on their online shopping accounts.

Tesco To ensure more vulnerable and elderly customers can shop in-store, will prioritise one hour every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning between 9-10am (except in Express stores).

Iceland first hour of opening for the elderly, disabled and their careres

Co-Op Between 8am and 9am Monday – Saturday and between 10am and 11am on Sundays, vulnerable people and NHS staff will be the only people allowed into shops.

Waitrose First opening hour in supermarkets will be dedicated to our elderly and vulnerable shoppers, as well as those who look after them.

Morrisons £35 meat or veg box delivery by DPD

Manor Gardens – Currently recruiting volunteers to deliver food to vulnerable people

Felix Project – Recruiting more volunteers

Islington Council RSS – issues crisis food and energy vouchers

As-Suffa – Food pack delivery for people who are self-isolating with Corona symptoms and over the age of 65

Age UK Islington Helpline – 020 7281 6018, or email gethelp@ageukislington.org.uk, Mon to Fri, 9am – 5pm. Phone support to connect to emergency food and practical advice.

Osolocal2u are advertising delivery in Islington . veg boxes, milk, butter, bread

Lola’s Cupcakes – delivering veg boxes

Woods Food Service – need to sign up for an account, but good quality food

Natoora – next day delivery all over London, usually supply restaurants Monday – Sunday: 7am to 5pm – 24 hour order line with monitored voicemail from 5pm onwards: 020 7237 0346

Love shack in Hackney are delivering same day fresh fruit and veg and vegan treats to Islington and Hackney

Crosstown deliver curated boxes

New Covent Garden for fresh fruit and veg

Google map of restaurants offering takeaway service

Free meals – charities serving takeaways rather than sit-down

Bread Station – next day home delivery in N1, N16 and E8. Organic natural sourdough & essentials – Eggs, milk, oat milk, coffee, bacon, butter, flour, avocados, and more.

Author: Philip Challinor
Categories: Uncategorized

GAME: a board game co-designed by clients at the Psychosis Therapy Project

GAME: a board game co-designed by clients at the Psychosis Therapy Project

Not every game has a ball, nor two competing teams; even, sometimes, there is no notion of “winning.” Marvin Minsky, in reference to Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations (1980)


This collaboration was part of a PhD project aimed at understanding the design process and the experiences of participants, clients of the Psychosis Therapy Project, to see if this engagement is beneficial to mental health. The co-design project was not set up with the intention of developing an artefact, and participants were encouraged to engage in the process freely. The process started with activities that aimed to begin to understand and define what design means; for instance by bringing objects and reflecting upon their significance or carrying out short design projects. Through some co-design tools and activities, a broad design purpose emerged, that of expressing a notion of Stewardship, or taking care of, which resulted in the development of GAME.

GAME is a tremendous achievement, stemming from participants unique knowledge and insights on Stewardship, or taking care of, each other and the world, and an intellectual and creative engagement with the meaning and diversity of human experiences.


The board game is designed to encourage collaboration over competition, and the exchange of ideas and perspectives in a non-judgmental way. Some players for instance commented ‘I have shared things I wouldn’t have done otherwise’ or ‘I didn’t know I was so self-conscious’.

Game is designed to help participants wonder, get to know themselves and connect with one another and the en­vironment. There are no winners or losers and interaction among participants is the main bene­fit. To achieve this, the board game involves players in addressing questions that relate to different themes, through different forms of interaction.

Game is composed by a set of cards with questions pertaining to the different themes in different colours, and a board offering 3 different ways to address each card. There is also a set of empty cards where players can write their own questions.

The different themes are: green, philosophical, spiritual, mind & body, cre­ativity and (?) which refers to any area not included in the main themes.

Figure 1. Prototype of guidelines booklet (themes descriptions) and cards.


Randomly through a wheel, each question can be addressed in three different ways: Tell & share, Think & discuss, and Act & ask.

Figure 2. Prototype of guidelines booklets – ways to address questions and tokens


Through sharing opinions, non-judgemental discussions and reflections with others, players may identify areas in which they may want to further reflect and develop themselves, individually or as a group. In order to keep track of these reflections, tokens are distributed among players, which reflect each theme.

Figure 3. Game, box of cards, board and box with tokens corresponding to each theme.


Unlike most games, tokens are allocated subjectively. Throughout the game, when the player feels they need help with some area (e.g. spirituality), they can take a token as a reminder of this need (e.g. spirituality token). Tokens can also be given by others, if the player accepts them. At the end of the play session, the number of tokens of each type reflects where the player needs development. Rewards corresponding to each theme are given to those who have most tokens of one type, to motivate them to develop that part of themselves. For instance, if you feel you are not very environmentally aware, fellow players could encourage you to take some green corresponding to­kens. At the end of the game, if you have mostly green tokens, you may be given a reward that encourages you to become more environmentally friendly. These rewards could be created ad hoc by the group or selected from a booklet of ideas.

Step by step – with example:

  • First player randomly picks a card. The card is placed in the middle of the board, and spinned.
  • Where the pointer lands determines the way in which the card needs to be addressed (tell & share, think & discuss or act & ask).
  • Each card has a question (e.g. what colour is your soul?). The same question would be addressed in different ways depending on whether the pointer lands on tell and share (e.g. player expresses first thing that comes to mind ‘my soul is pink’ and others share their views), on think and discuss (players individually think their responses and then discuss with one another) or act and ask ( player acts, addressing the question via mimics or gestures, and others ask, by joining the act or verbally).
  • After discussing each card, the individual or group can reflect on any needs, and distribute tokens.
  • At the end of the game, these tokens are used to distribute the rewards. The participant who has more tokens in one area (e.g. spirituality) will gain the corresponding reward (e.g. meditation event).

Principles of GAME

  • It values diversity of lived experience over accuracy of factual knowledge. As one of the co-designers put it ‘in this game we are all equal’
  • The subjective nature of the token system reflects how people judge, value, as well as support one another and make decisions in everyday life.
  • People who identify themselves, or are helped to recognize, an area where they may want to seek further development, are given rewards to encourage this process. This symbolic gesture also reflects the principles behind peer-to-peer support, recovery and rehabilitation.

Try it any time at the Despard Road centre – feedback and ideas welcome!

Erika Renedo-Illarregi


Creative Commons Licence
GAME is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Author: Philip Challinor
Categories: Uncategorized

Addiction psychiatry ‘in meltdown’ and could cease to exist in ten years

Addiction psychiatry could be wiped out in the next 10 years unless urgent measures are taken to tackle the dwindling numbers of doctors training in addictions, according to a landmark report published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

It reveals the number of higher training posts across England have fallen by 58%, from 64 in 2011 to just 27 in 2019, leaving some regions without a single trainee.

The College is calling for urgent government funding to protect existing places and to create training posts especially in England, as the falling numbers cannot be solved by the current funding arrangements.

The findings come at a time when both drug-related deaths and alcohol-related hospital admissions in England have reached record levels.

“This report reveals the meltdown that has occurred within addiction psychiatry across the UK, but especially in England,” said Professor Julia Sinclair, chair of the addictions faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists and co-author of the report.

“Without urgent investment from government, training in the specialist skills that are an essential part of the treatment system could be wiped out in a decade, depriving thousands of people with this life-threatening condition access to the specialist help they need to recover and rebuild their lives.”

“Assessment and treatment of people with complex medical and social needs arising out of addictions are the essential skills of the addiction psychiatrist. Helping bring people back from the brink of death and turn their lives around are just two of the many reasons why addictions psychiatry is such a vital career.”

The report – Training in Addiction Psychiatry: Current Status and Future Prospects – found in 2019 there were just 16 people in higher training posts that would give them a qualification in Addiction Psychiatry in England, with five out of 12 English Regions – South West Peninsula, Severn, Wessex, Thames Valley and Kent Surrey and Sussex –  having no such posts.

This means there are no opportunities to gain skills needed to equip psychiatrists to improve patient care, nor are there opportunities for a trainee to gain an endorsement in addiction psychiatry and work as a specialist addiction consultant.

Full article: Mental Health Today

Author: Philip Challinor
Categories: Latest News

Outcome shortlisted at British Diversity Awards

Outcome, Islington Mind’s client-led LGBTQ+ service, has been shortlisted for Charity or Non-Profit Organisation of the Year at the British Diversity Awards.

The British Diversity Awards promote the values of equality, diversity and inclusion by rewarding those individuals, organisations and unsung heroes who help to make the world and the workplace a better place for others.

Outcome is one of eight nominees shortlisted for the Charity or Non-Profit Organisation of the Year award for 2019. The winner will be announced on 26 March and will automatically be shortlisted for the European Diversity Awards in November.

Author: Philip Challinor
Categories: Latest News

Cancellations of child mental health sessions jump 25%

Growing numbers of troubled children are having appointments with NHS mental health services cancelled, the organisation’s data show.

Figures obtained by the mental health charity Mind reveal that CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services) in England cancelled 175,094 appointments with vulnerable patients between August 2018 and July 2019.

That was 25% more than the 140,327 which were cancelled during the same period in 2017-18.

Experts think staff shortages and the growing demand from young people for help with anxiety, depression and other conditions, lie behind the trend.

Although under-18s with mental health problems can pull out of planned sessions, the proportion of appointments cancelled by a CAMHS provider rose as a percentage of all appointments year-on-year, from 3.3% in 2017-18 to 3.7% last year – one in 27 of all consultations.

Mind called the upward trend deeply concerning, especially as some appointments were with young people who were self harming or having suicidal thoughts.

Full story: Guardian

Author: Philip Challinor
Categories: Uncategorized

Report on MH in schools – Mind responds

Responding to Making The Grade, a new report by the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, Emily Graham, Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer at Mind, said:

“Schools are a key part of life for most children and young people, and have a big role to play when it comes to mental health for both pupils and staff. The education system must focus on more than academic achievement and value everyone’s mental health and wellbeing. Young people today are facing significant pressures, and we’d welcome a review on the impact of the exam system. We also want to see Ofsted and other inspectors assessing schools on their efforts to promote wellbeing and development.

“With two in five pupils surveyed by Mind saying they wouldn’t know where to go to get support within school, it’s clear that there’s far more to be done to make sure all young people get the help they need.

“But it’s not just down to schools to make the changes needed to enable all young people to thrive. Young people’s mental health services should work in close partnership with education providers to ensure problems are identified and addressed early on. Schools and colleges cannot be expected to address children and young people’s mental health by themselves, and support cannot stop at the school gate.”

Source: National Mind

Author: Philip Challinor
Categories: Latest News

CQC State of Care report – Mind responds

Mind has issued a response to the CQC’s State of Care report, which this year focuses particularly on inpatient mental health services, which have seen a reduction in quality.

Findings include:

  • 7% of child and adolescent mental health inpatient services were rated inadequate (2018: 3%)
  • 8% of acute wards for adults of working age and psychiatric intensive care units were rated inadequate (2018: 2%)

The report also outlines how the majority of mental health inpatient services rated inadequate or requiring improvement also had a lack of appropriately skilled staff.

Responding to the report, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, the mental health charity, said:

“It is disturbing that the CQC continues to highlight the same issues with the quality of mental healthcare, time and time again, just when people need them the most.

“We have repeatedly said that additional investment needs to reach the frontline to counteract years of underfunding and increased demand for mental health services. But the report shows access to community mental health services is not keeping pace with demand. The promise of more money at a national level is not enough – people are still reaching crisis point because they are aren’t getting the help they need.

“We know that even when people are able to get help, it is delivered in sub-standard facilities which limits the quality of their care. It is deeply unsettling that inspections repeatedly reveal outdated and dangerous infrastructure. We cannot expect people with mental health problems to be treated in these conditions, nor should we expect NHS mental health staff to work in them. And yet the Government has barely given mental health a mention in recent capital spending announcements.

“The Government must also urgently address the diminishing workforce, which is driving the overall decline in the quality of mental healthcare. As demand increases, under-supported staff are leaving in droves. This report shows that understaffed and under-resourced services don’t deliver quality care.

“Though investment through the NHS Long Term Plan is welcome, it is clear that in real-terms mental health services have been left languishing at the bottom of the pile, including, worryingly, those for children and young people and psychiatric intensive care units. The public rightly expects mental health services to be as much of a priority as those for physical health but this message isn’t getting through to local decision makers. The Government must invest in infrastructure and workforce, and the NHS Long Term Plan must be delivered in every local area if we are to see meaningful change for people trying to access support right now.”

Source: National Mind

Author: Philip Challinor
Categories: Latest News

Health Secretary fails to mention MH: Mind responds

On 30 September the Government pledged a large amount of investment for hospital projects across England, at the start of the Conservative party conference.

The plans include a £2.7bn investment for six hospitals over five years but no mention was made of mental health buildings.

Responding to the Health Secretary’s speech, Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns Mind, the mental health charity, said:

“Pressing risks caused by sub-standard mental health facilities have been completely ignored in today’s funding announcement for NHS hospitals.

“Long-neglected NHS mental health buildings are interfering with people’s recovery and putting them at risk of suicide. The continued use of mixed sex and dormitory wards puts people in danger of sexual assault. It can’t be right we expect people with mental health problems to continue to use inadequate and often dangerous infrastructure, and we should not expect NHS mental health staff to work in these conditions.

“When the Prime Minister first announced money for building projects, we called for the mental health estate to be among the first to benefit. Its omission in the Health Secretary’s speech makes it seem like mental health has been pushed to the back of the queue. This follows previous announcements around building projects which have seen mental health barely get a mention.

“Having a key government announcement of funding for hospitals with no inclusion of mental health is woefully out of touch. The public now rightly expect mental health facilities to be as much of a priority as those for physical health.

“There is no time to waste, the Government must urgently bring the NHS mental health estate into the 21st century. Unless, of course, it has now decided that mental health is no longer such a burning injustice.”

Source: National Mind

Author: Philip Challinor
Categories: Latest News

Soup Kitchen serves up mental health support to London’s homeless

Caroline, who is 10 weeks pregnant, clutches a colourful antenatal zip-file folder from the NHS. It has pregnancy advice written all over it, telling her to eat healthily and stay active. But she is in an unusual position for a soon-to-be mother – she’s a rough sleeper.

The 28-year-old is one of many who have been getting food, but also mental health support at the Soup Kitchen at the American international church on Tottenham Court Road in central London.

The project is the first of its kind, with no other soup kitchen having ever opened up a mental health clinic on site.

Alex Brown, the director of the Soup Kitchen, first made the suggestion. He felt that by giving free mental health support to homeless people you could help them get off the streets.

Michael Brown, a Soup Kitchen trustee and the founder of the advertising company MKTG, helped by setting up a crowdfunding page to raise money for a part-time therapist. They needed £30,000 and it exceeded this target in late 2017. There were further steps to take before launching but they opened their doors with a party last week.

Last week Caroline was being helped by Dr Dobrochna Zajas, a cognitive behavioural therapist. She and her colleague Dr Brett Grellier have been offering specialist therapy, using techniques tailored for those who have been through trauma.

Full story: Guardian

Author: Philip Challinor
Categories: Latest News