What to do with Blue Monday?
By Penny Walster, Shelter
Samantha, Richard and their two children spent a very difficult Christmas 2016 living in a rat-infested and rundown temporary flat, whilst they searched desperately for a home. After 12 months of struggling with debt and trying to keep life normal for their two girls, the pair felt the pressure to cope was getting too much. This lead to growing problems with anxiety and depression.
When they first came to Shelter, Samantha and Richard where struggling to sleep and experiencing panic attacks because of fears for their family’s safety. With help and support from Shelter and other agencies across Bristol, Samantha and Richard and the children were able to move into a permanent home and make arrangements to deal with their debt. Now, over a year later, they have both been able to access counselling and therapy, they have been on the first ever holiday with their children – and have just celebrated a lovely Christmas together as a family in their own home. They are finally looking forward to the future.
When life is tough it can be hard to remember to look after yourself and your own mental wellbeing. This is particularly the case if, like Samantha and Richard, you are a parent or have other people relying on you. Shelter’s research in Spring 2017 found that 1 in 5 adults suffered from mental health problems due to housing pressures. Our own experience in our Bristol hub supports this with increasing numbers of people telling us that they are experiencing panic attacks, anxiety and depression as a result of their housing issues and debts.
That is why Shelter has come together with the Ways2Work, The Centre for Sustainable Energy, National Careers Service, Bristol Energy, Bristol & Wessex Water and more than forty health and advice organisations from across Bristol for this year’s Blue Monday Fair on 15th January. On what has previously been labelled “the most depressing day of the year” we are joining with other organisations and the local community to show that you are not alone.
At this helpful event you can find information, advice and support to tackle difficult problems around debt, housing and employment. There’s also information about health and wellbeing from physical health issues to advice and suggestions to manage your mental health. We’ll be offering an opportunity to try free activities, such as a mandala workshop and massage therapies, as well as the opportunity to win a hamper of goodies.
You can find out more about who is going to be at the Blue Monday Fair online here: www.bluemonday.org.uk and follow events on social media with #BristolBlueMonday. But why not pop down and join us at this free fair in the Galleries Shopping Centre on Monday 15th January between 10am and 3pm – we look forward to seeing you!
If you’re affected by housing and homelessness this new year, then come and see us at the Shelter Bristol Office at New Bond House, Bond Street, Bristol, BS2 9AG or call us on 0344 515 1430.