Behind the scenes with It’s OK To Say mental health charity

PUBLISHED: 18:00 12 August 2020

It's OK To Say founder Stacey Turner.

It's OK To Say founder Stacey Turner.

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Since 2018, the Herts Advertiser has been supporting mental health awareness charity It’s OK To Say. In today’s volatile world, its work has never been more vital. This week we catch up with founder Stacey Turner to find out what she’s been up to.

Even though it’s been a while since I was last in touch, I feel grateful that the work of It’s OK To Say is lasting. I recently had a man come up to me in the street and say, “It’s you isn’t it, you’re Stacey from It’s OK To Say?” I replied, “Yes, that’s me,” to which he said, “Well where have you been and what’s been happening?” This is music to my ears, as I have had my own struggles and it helps me helping others.

Throughout this turbulent time, I have been busy at my desk at home working on various projects to help the community, the community that I miss terribly. My main concerns have been the fear, panic and stress and how it manifests within different people.

This could be the loss of livelihood and not knowing the help available, the sadness and hurt surrounding relationship breakdowns, the death of loved ones and bereavement without support, not seeing family and loved ones due to isolating or shielding, over-worked key workers, the adjustment to working from home, no nursery or school, the elderly in homes,.

And not forgetting to mention that times like these can bring feelings and emotions to the surface where the impact of past trauma may even reappear or manifest in new ways, leading to someone shutting down or feeling trapped. When I say trauma, I do not mean the most devastating event, trauma can result from any change that has a lasting impact.

I have been part of Teams meetings led by Cllr Anthony Rowlands on the impact of COVID-19 on mental health plus emerging from lockdown. Behind the scenes, charities and services are working hard preparing themselves to support our community as it begins to emerge and make a start in forming the fabric of society that is imperative to our mental health.

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I have been part of radio shows urging the public to be self-aware, taking time to notice. Also, that while we cannot control what is going on around us, we should look at what we can control and focus on that, which helps to stabilise offering hope.

I have been working on an app where the user can access help, log daily feelings, emotions and achievements then reflect weekly. The user will also be able to read articles, access event information, join our school’s initiative – delayed due to COVID-19 - plus many more helpful features.

I hope to launch a business and mental health support programme alongside a St Albans-based business centre, as well as our new podcast!

We have been working on a CBT programme to run through the website. With funding cuts to NHS services, this is something now unavailable to many and is very much needed by people. The CBT program is designed to compliment face-to-face support and where GPs can refer patients to as a point of reference. It will be launched following a successful pilot.

I wish they would change the saying ‘socially distant’ to ‘physically distant’, as it is more positive and a clearer instruction. We want people to look at ways to maintain connection to help where a negative impact results from isolation. Having five points of connection are useful.

Our GP, Dr Phillippa Smith adds: “For me, the main thing is for people to respect others. One of my lovely female Asian GP colleagues was spat at outside a supermarket. I guess it’s about being tolerant and considerate of people’s differences, the same applies to the wearing of masks.”

It is important to highlight that if someone is not wearing a mask, they may be exempt for medical reasons and consideration of this for the person’s mental health is appreciated.

Remember, It’s OK To Say! There’s a mountain of support at www.itsoktosay.org.uk. You’re also welcome to write to me at support@itsoktosay.org.uk.


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