Struggling with lockdown? Make your mark on the Big White Wall

Free mental health support is available to everyone living in Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre 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 suffer with their mental health. And as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, people living on the Fylde Coast have been urged to make the most of this vital resource.

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.

And thanks to NHS Blackpool and NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the service is available to all people with a Fylde Coast postcode.

Dr Neil Hartley-Smith, a Blackpool GP and clinical director at the CCGs, said: “After nine weeks of lockdown 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.

“It is vitally important at this time that people continue to follow the Government advice to stay at home as much as possible and those who have been recommended to shield for 12 weeks should continue to do so.

“We are committed to supporting people living with mental health on the Fylde Coast by providing varied and high quality services for them to access.

“Big White Wall is a fantastic tool for people who are suffering as they can log in anonymously and express how they are feeling to a community of people who feel the same way.

“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.”

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 resident across the Fylde Coast 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