Open Mental Health Buddies provide emotional and practical support to people who would like to make volunteering part of their recovery journey.
Gabi was referred to the Open Mental Health Buddy scheme by her local job club. Due to long-term physical and mental health issues, she is unable to take on full-time employment, but has always been a keen volunteer.
“I have problems with my back. I also suffer from depression, but the more useful I can be, the less depressed I feel!”
Before the pandemic, Gabi was volunteering with a local support group. Sadly, the group didn’t reopen once the restrictions lifted, so she found herself looking for something new.
During lockdown, Gabi enjoyed cooking and baking for her neighbours. Fluent in English, Polish and Farsi, she stayed in regular contact with her friends and family over the phone, often finding herself supporting them with their English language skills.
Gabi has now been paired with an Open Mental Health Volunteer Buddy who is supporting her to find a role where she can continue to use her language skills or baking expertise to benefit others.
She explains; “I want to be useful and to be of help to people. I don’t want to just stay within these four walls as I’ve always been active. I hope that my experience will be useful to others.”
Gabi's Buddy, Emily, explains how she also benefits from volunteering with Open Mental health:
"I know from personal experience how beneficial volunteering is for your mental health"
“I volunteered for this role as I wanted to help people who have been experiencing depression and anxiety. I know from personal experience how beneficial volunteering is for your mental health and I always look forward to my weekly talks with the person I’m helping. It’s an amazing feeling being told that you've brightened someone's day!”
For more information about Open Mental Health and how you can get involved, click on the link below.