Mental Health Awareness Week

As this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week comes to an end, one of Better Together‘s Life Connectors, Will Dowe, discusses the impact his group has had on people’s lives.

His Different Day group meets every week at the Shoebox on Castle Meadow, in Norwich and supports people suffering from mental health issues, specifically bipolar.

Why did you set up the Different Day Group?

On collating information on several initial visits to individuals with depression and/or bipolar, I noticed a pattern in feedback: these clients expressed their dismay at previous support of some other providers, saying they felt as though professionals would visit them, tick a few boxes, ask if they thought about suicide and then would leave. Describing the experience as very impersonal and “feeling like a statistic as opposed to a real person”, clients similarly concluded that they wanted social interaction/ support from like-minded people with shared experiences. The result was the creation of the peer support group, …Different Day.

Explain a bit about the group…

Different Day was originally created as a social group for 18-30 year olds who experienced depression and/or bipolar, meeting fortnightly at the Shoebox Hub. Not outcomes based, the sessions are purely for like-minded individuals to share their experiences and support each other through the week. The group proved to be incredibly popular, and due to this popularity and demand, is now weekly and open to all ages from 18 upwards. …Different Day on average has around 14 attendees every week.

What does the future hold for the Different Day group?

The group is constantly evolving to overcome any challenges and be as good as it can be. Feedback from members is essential. As a result, we now have a session from 4pm until 5pm that is specifically for people with bipolar. There is also a strict declaration of conduct: essentially showing each other respect and no judgements.

Also, Different Day now has its own Facebook and WhatsApp group, so members support each other in between sessions. As a result, a real friendship network has formed.

What do the people who attend the group think of it?

Clients have told me they feel empowered and feel as though they are now amongst friends who understand them. Members regularly chat in the WhatsApp groups and attend other social events together. There is no “cliqueiness” with people of all ages, sex and backgrounds interacting well with each other.