This month, we asked you to help us celebrate and promote the value of ‘life support’ services. Emily from our Policy & Campaigns team shares some of the stories you’ve sent in.
Thousands of you have already been involved with our Life Support campaign, and we’ve read many moving stories of how ‘life support’ has helped you. If you haven’t already, please add your voice to our campaign by sharing your ‘life support’ story.
What is ‘life support’?
We know that support for a mental health problem isn’t just about the treatments we may receive. It’s also about the support that helps us in our day-to-day lives. We call this ‘life support’.
‘Life support’ services provide help with completing forms, housing and benefits advice, handling debt and finances, reconnecting and feeling part of the community. Services that help us to live a full life and stay well. Every day, community-based organisations up and down the country provide ‘life support’ services helping people with mental health problems. But they’re undervalued, underfunded and under threat.
Problems with debt, benefits, housing and social isolation are much more likely to affect those of us with mental health problems. If the right support isn’t available, these problems can spiral out of control and have a devastating impact on our health.
So what does ‘life support’ do for those of us with mental health problems?
Thanks to the stories you’ve shared, a picture is emerging of how important these services are for many of us with mental health problems. There are some clear themes developing which show some of the ways ‘life support’ services help us.
Managing day-to-day life
For many, ‘life support’ services are a huge support with the challenges of day-to-day life. Here’s what Laura from London said.
“The services provided by Mind in Richmond are crucial for the simple reason they allow a space to discuss difficult issues in a calm, non-judgmental, supportive space. They are literal life support in the sense that I can feel physically lighter having shared my problems with people who understand – they don’t see me as a loser for having periods of difficulty coping with normal life. Many people that come to the local Mind manage to hold down jobs, have happy and enjoyable family lives and form strong friendships, but still find that issues from the past can trip them up. Everyone needs help to cope sometimes, and the local Mind helps with that.”
Support with housing and money
Managing housing and money can be challenging for many of us. ‘Life support’ services offer invaluable support. This is the story of someone using the DIAL service in Worcestershire.
“DIAL South Worcestershire, the information and advice service, helped me with filling in forms, finding help with housing benefits, advice on accessing mental health services, attending benefits assessments with me, and coping with debt. I could not have managed without their kind and caring assistance. I was at my wit's end and near-suicidal. I was at that time diagnosed with having a learning disability and at age 54 it was the answer to so many questions about why life was such a constant struggle for me. The people at DIAL helped me find sources of help to manage my everyday life with dyspraxia.”
Help with benefits
For many, the benefits application process can seem overwhelming. ‘Life support’ services can help make it more manageable. This is Alison’s story.
“If I didn’t have access to the services at my local Citizens Advice, when I got my letter about my Personal Independence Payment, I would almost certainly have lost my Disability Living Allowance. I can’t cope with working anymore, so I’m probably going to have to live on little more than half my current income, with my tax credits also being reduced. But with the support of Paul at Citizens Advice, life has been made bearable over the last nine years. He’s supported me in claiming for Disability Living Allowance and his expertise has been so important in helping me convey my complex issues.”
We’ve seen many stories of how ‘life support’ services help to make your day-to-day lives better, and how devastating it could be if these services were taken away. That’s why we’re asking you to join us in celebrating these services and highlighting how valuable they are – we’ll miss them if they go.
Share this blog on Facebook and Twitter to help us celebrate ‘life support’.
Every day, ‘life support’ services help many people with mental health problems live a full life and stay well. But they’re undervalued, underfunded and under threat. Help us save ‘life support’ services.