Welcome to another installment of our #RAHolidayKindness series! In keeping with one of our favorite traditions, Random Acts staff members were given a special budget for holiday kindness this year. UK-North Regional Representative Emma Beattie decided to put this budget to use breaking stigmas around mental health, educating the community, and encouraging new friendships to form.
When explaining her goals for her #RAHolidayKindness act, Emma highlighted the importance of educating the community about mental illness: “Working in mental health, we so often get asked ‘Aren’t you scared?’ and ‘Are they allowed to come and go as they please?’ People are shocked to learn that there are no bars on the windows or padlocks on the doors. The key to breaking these perceptions is education…”
One way that the mental health rehabilitation and assessment unit educates the community is through events such as Mental Health Community Engagement Day. This presents an opportunity for the community as a whole to come to the unit, meet with staff and residents, and learn more about mental health. Event organizer Gary Gillespie stated that the goal for this event is “to educate the community around mental health and acknowledge the resilience and courage that exists in individuals who are working so hard to lead productive and meaningful lives while facing the daily challenges associated with living with mental ill health.”
Holiday Crafts and Cheer
Emma used her #RAHolidayKindness budget to bring some extra Christmas magic to Mental Health Community Engagement Day. She bought craft supplies and groceries to help make this the best Mental Health Community Engagement Day possible. Leading up to the event, staff hosted writing workshops and crafting workshops for residents. During crafting workshops, they worked on Christmas-themed crafts, like ornaments, cards, keychains, jewelry, and more. Writing workshops were focused on helping residents to verbalize their experiences in the form of poetry, which was then displayed for the community during the event.
When Mental Health Community Engagement Day came along, the unit opened its doors to the public for holiday fun. All of the art and poetry made by the residents was put on display to create a beautiful, festive environment. Throughout the event, residents were able to talk with community members, share their experiences, and form new friendships. Everyone enjoyed a meal and gifts, too! Staff and residents worked together to cook and serve food for the event. Attendees went home with resident-made crafts, as well as informational packets on mental health.
Overall, Mental Health Community Engagement Day was a huge success. Emma reported back that they received positive feedback and really feel that they accomplished the goal of increased awareness around mental health. Everyone is already talking about the next event they hope to do!