Mental health

Mental health

Mental health

Introduction

Our Covid-19 Action Fund provides grants for Churchill Fellows to run projects combating the effects of Covid-19 in all areas of society. Hundreds of pandemic projects nationwide are being run or assisted by Churchill Fellows, using the international expertise they gained during their Fellowships overseas. Here are the Action Fund recipients working on mental health issues.

December 2020 awards

Jaccaidi Dyer: connecting young women with emotional support services

Jaccaidi Dyer (CF 2018) has a background in tackling global gender-based violence, and she leads the For Her project as a tech for good initiative.

She will use her grant to launch For Her, an online platform that makes it easier for young women to access a range of free mental health, specialist support and wellbeing services in one empowering click. She hopes to supply free subscriptions to premium mental health apps for more than 200 young women who are stuck on counselling waiting lists or unable to access support. Additionally, she plans to create free digital resources that reach broader audiences, including an online retreat for women from minoritised racial communities, an art therapy video series, and mindfulness and mental health podcasts delivered in partnership with charities, therapists and coaches. Furthermore, she aims to support charities to use new technology tools to aid their in-service delivery and outreach, so that they can reach young women who are marginalised or vulnerable.

Jaccaidi's Fellowship to the Caribbean in 2018 explored young women’s cyber-activism for tackling gender-based violence.

Jacqui Jobson: supporting the mental health of LGBTQ+ communities

Jacqui Jobson (CF 2017) is a human rights campaigner and consultant from Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

She will use her grant to raise awareness of the impact of Covid-19 on LGBTQ+ people, and of the mental health needs of this community during the pandemic and beyond. She will produce and disseminate culturally competent good-practice guidance for healthcare professionals and mental health services on how to support LGBTQ+ communities. Additionally, she will deliver advice and training via social media and webinars.

Jacqui's Fellowship to Australia and Canada in 2017 explored advocacy approaches to mental health inequalities amongst the LGBTQ+ community, and was supported by the Mental Health Foundation.

Kieron Kirkland: developing AI mental health therapy

Kieron Kirkland (CF 2015), from Fareham in Hampshire, is the product manager and UX lead for an award-winning artificial intelligence digital health company, the co-founder of CAST (Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology) and a trained cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist.

He will use his grant to support the technical development and prototyping of an AI therapist using natural language processing (NLP) technologies, in order to provide cost-effective and equitable mental health therapy at scale. As a result, more people will be able to access mental health support online and the demands on NHS staff will be reduced. Whilst AI is transforming the medical field, it is not much used in mental health and there is currently very little development on AI talking therapies in the UK. Kieron's innovative project will involve developing a prototype service, undertaking user research, and then developing and scaling the work.

Kieron's Fellowship to Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda in 2015 explored how technology can help address social challenges.

Mary Smith: supporting the mental health of rural communities

Mary Smith (CF 2019) from Kendal in Cumbria is the CEO of Growing Well, a rural mental health charity using therapeutic farming, which offers an alternative to talking therapy. During the pandemic, Growing Well has experienced a notable increase in referrals.

Mary will use her grant to expand the charity by working towards opening a second location in Cumbria. The funded stage of the replication will involve meeting with landowners, funders and clients, in order to develop a sustainable business and income model and identify a site. Therapeutic farming allows volunteers to share tasks, learn new skills, become part of a community and connect with the outdoors in a Covid-safe environment. An impressive 100% of Growing Well's volunteers say that its unique approach of activity, training and support has had a positive impact on their mental health.

Mary's Fellowship to Norway and the USA in 2019 explored international best practice in care farming and was supported by The Prince's Countryside Fund.

Neil Morris: preparing people with poor mental health for work

Neil Morris (CF 2008) is a community leader in South Yorkshire.

He will use his grant to develop Transformation, an online training project for people who have experienced poor mental health to equip them to become volunteer facilitators in their community. The training will help them to run locally based community activities but also to cascade their knowledge to others. In this way, a culture of volunteer-led mutual peer support will be created, aiding both their own recovery, their interaction with society and also benefiting the community. The programme will focus on hard-to-reach groups and deprived areas, primarily in Sheffield and Barnsley, and will be designed to be both scalable and replicable in order to benefit other communities across the UK. Volunteering was Neil's way back into the world of work following an episode of poor mental health and it had a hugely positive experience on his own wellbeing. He hopes the programme will do the same for others.

Neil's Fellowship to Australia and New Zealand in 2008 explored the rehabilitation of men with mental health problems.

June 2020 awards

Alison Jordan: supporting people bereaved by suicide

Alison Jordan (CF 2019) from Exmouth is the founder of Pete's Dragons, a suicide bereavement support charity which operates across Devon, set up in memory of her brother Pete. They have been operational throughout the pandemic, supporting people online, but the increased complexities of the situation require a new approach.

Alison will use her grant to develop and roll out a therapeutic programme for prolonged grief disorder (PGD) to people bereaved by suicide during the pandemic. The programme is based on a model produced by The Center for Complicated Grief in the USA, which Alison visited during her Churchill Fellowship in 2019. Alison and her team at Pete's Dragons will redesign the model, a research-backed 16-week therapeutic intervention programme for PGD, for their beneficiaries and the UK audience. They will trial the programme once the lockdown restrictions have lifted, initially with 14 beneficiaries, before evaluating its impact and rolling it out more widely.

Alison's Fellowship to the USA in 2019 explored innovative approaches to suicide prevention and suicide bereavement and was supported by The John Armitage Charitable Trust and the Samaritans.

Dan Trevor: protecting young people at risk of self-harm and suicide

Dan Trevor (CF 2017) is a psychotherapist from Denbighshire in North Wales, who specialises in working with children and young people via dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) sessions. DBT provides training in managing emotions, navigating crisis situations and resisting urges to self-harm and suicide, and is particularly effective in helping chronically suicidal and self-injuring young people. Dan and his colleagues usually deliver DBT skills training face to face, but under the current social distancing restrictions they have not been able to do this.

He will use the grant to train six therapists to transition existing DBT groups into online virtual meetings. Therapists will be trained in adapting their face-to-face skills in assessment of clients online, managing risk and safeguarding, legal issues, insurance, security and data protection implications, so that they feel equipped to continue supporting their existing clients. Additionally, Dan will seek partnerships with schools, in order to help new clients. Finally, he will establish a permanent online service that will continue beyond the lockdown, in order to help young people who are socially anxious or lack the confidence to attend DBT in person.

Dan's Fellowship to the USA in 2017 investigated mindfulness interventions for children and young people and was supported by the Mental Health Foundation.

Evelyn Sharp: providing online trauma therapy for key workers

Evelyn Sharp (CF 2019), from Brighton and Hove, is a counsellor and psychotherapist.

She will use her grant to provide free online trauma therapy to key workers who are experiencing acute stress linked to Covid-19. These free sessions will be available to any key worker across the UK but low-paid key workers will be prioritised. Each person will receive between four and eight sessions. Additionally, Evelyn will share her learnings on delivering mental health interventions during a mass trauma with her colleagues and professional networks.

Evelyn's Fellowship to the USA in 2019 explored the use of the performing arts to support psychological recovery from trauma.

December 2020 awards

Jaccaidi Dyer: connecting young women with emotional support services

Jaccaidi Dyer (CF 2018) has a background in tackling global gender-based violence, and she leads the For Her project as a tech for good initiative.

She will use her grant to launch For Her, an online platform that makes it easier for young women to access a range of free mental health, specialist support and wellbeing services in one empowering click. She hopes to supply free subscriptions to premium mental health apps for more than 200 young women who are stuck on counselling waiting lists or unable to access support. Additionally, she plans to create free digital resources that reach broader audiences, including an online retreat for women from minoritised racial communities, an art therapy video series, and mindfulness and mental health podcasts delivered in partnership with charities, therapists and coaches. Furthermore, she aims to support charities to use new technology tools to aid their in-service delivery and outreach, so that they can reach young women who are marginalised or vulnerable.

Jaccaidi's Fellowship to the Caribbean in 2018 explored young women’s cyber-activism for tackling gender-based violence.

Jacqui Jobson: supporting the mental health of LGBTQ+ communities

Jacqui Jobson (CF 2017) is a human rights campaigner and consultant from Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

She will use her grant to raise awareness of the impact of Covid-19 on LGBTQ+ people, and of the mental health needs of this community during the pandemic and beyond. She will produce and disseminate culturally competent good-practice guidance for healthcare professionals and mental health services on how to support LGBTQ+ communities. Additionally, she will deliver advice and training via social media and webinars.

Jacqui's Fellowship to Australia and Canada in 2017 explored advocacy approaches to mental health inequalities amongst the LGBTQ+ community, and was supported by the Mental Health Foundation.

Kieron Kirkland: developing AI mental health therapy

Kieron Kirkland (CF 2015), from Fareham in Hampshire, is the product manager and UX lead for an award-winning artificial intelligence digital health company, the co-founder of CAST (Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology) and a trained cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist.

He will use his grant to support the technical development and prototyping of an AI therapist using natural language processing (NLP) technologies, in order to provide cost-effective and equitable mental health therapy at scale. As a result, more people will be able to access mental health support online and the demands on NHS staff will be reduced. Whilst AI is transforming the medical field, it is not much used in mental health and there is currently very little development on AI talking therapies in the UK. Kieron's innovative project will involve developing a prototype service, undertaking user research, and then developing and scaling the work.

Kieron's Fellowship to Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda in 2015 explored how technology can help address social challenges.

Mary Smith: supporting the mental health of rural communities

Mary Smith (CF 2019) from Kendal in Cumbria is the CEO of Growing Well, a rural mental health charity using therapeutic farming, which offers an alternative to talking therapy. During the pandemic, Growing Well has experienced a notable increase in referrals.

Mary will use her grant to expand the charity by working towards opening a second location in Cumbria. The funded stage of the replication will involve meeting with landowners, funders and clients, in order to develop a sustainable business and income model and identify a site. Therapeutic farming allows volunteers to share tasks, learn new skills, become part of a community and connect with the outdoors in a Covid-safe environment. An impressive 100% of Growing Well's volunteers say that its unique approach of activity, training and support has had a positive impact on their mental health.

Mary's Fellowship to Norway and the USA in 2019 explored international best practice in care farming and was supported by The Prince's Countryside Fund.

Neil Morris: preparing people with poor mental health for work

Neil Morris (CF 2008) is a community leader in South Yorkshire.

He will use his grant to develop Transformation, an online training project for people who have experienced poor mental health to equip them to become volunteer facilitators in their community. The training will help them to run locally based community activities but also to cascade their knowledge to others. In this way, a culture of volunteer-led mutual peer support will be created, aiding both their own recovery, their interaction with society and also benefiting the community. The programme will focus on hard-to-reach groups and deprived areas, primarily in Sheffield and Barnsley, and will be designed to be both scalable and replicable in order to benefit other communities across the UK. Volunteering was Neil's way back into the world of work following an episode of poor mental health and it had a hugely positive experience on his own wellbeing. He hopes the programme will do the same for others.

Neil's Fellowship to Australia and New Zealand in 2008 explored the rehabilitation of men with mental health problems.

June 2020 awards

Alison Jordan: supporting people bereaved by suicide

Alison Jordan (CF 2019) from Exmouth is the founder of Pete's Dragons, a suicide bereavement support charity which operates across Devon, set up in memory of her brother Pete. They have been operational throughout the pandemic, supporting people online, but the increased complexities of the situation require a new approach.

Alison will use her grant to develop and roll out a therapeutic programme for prolonged grief disorder (PGD) to people bereaved by suicide during the pandemic. The programme is based on a model produced by The Center for Complicated Grief in the USA, which Alison visited during her Churchill Fellowship in 2019. Alison and her team at Pete's Dragons will redesign the model, a research-backed 16-week therapeutic intervention programme for PGD, for their beneficiaries and the UK audience. They will trial the programme once the lockdown restrictions have lifted, initially with 14 beneficiaries, before evaluating its impact and rolling it out more widely.

Alison's Fellowship to the USA in 2019 explored innovative approaches to suicide prevention and suicide bereavement and was supported by The John Armitage Charitable Trust and the Samaritans.

Dan Trevor: protecting young people at risk of self-harm and suicide

Dan Trevor (CF 2017) is a psychotherapist from Denbighshire in North Wales, who specialises in working with children and young people via dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) sessions. DBT provides training in managing emotions, navigating crisis situations and resisting urges to self-harm and suicide, and is particularly effective in helping chronically suicidal and self-injuring young people. Dan and his colleagues usually deliver DBT skills training face to face, but under the current social distancing restrictions they have not been able to do this.

He will use the grant to train six therapists to transition existing DBT groups into online virtual meetings. Therapists will be trained in adapting their face-to-face skills in assessment of clients online, managing risk and safeguarding, legal issues, insurance, security and data protection implications, so that they feel equipped to continue supporting their existing clients. Additionally, Dan will seek partnerships with schools, in order to help new clients. Finally, he will establish a permanent online service that will continue beyond the lockdown, in order to help young people who are socially anxious or lack the confidence to attend DBT in person.

Dan's Fellowship to the USA in 2017 investigated mindfulness interventions for children and young people and was supported by the Mental Health Foundation.

Evelyn Sharp: providing online trauma therapy for key workers

Evelyn Sharp (CF 2019), from Brighton and Hove, is a counsellor and psychotherapist.

She will use her grant to provide free online trauma therapy to key workers who are experiencing acute stress linked to Covid-19. These free sessions will be available to any key worker across the UK but low-paid key workers will be prioritised. Each person will receive between four and eight sessions. Additionally, Evelyn will share her learnings on delivering mental health interventions during a mass trauma with her colleagues and professional networks.

Evelyn's Fellowship to the USA in 2019 explored the use of the performing arts to support psychological recovery from trauma.