Mental wellbeing

Bringing communities together to support mental wellbeing

Together Through Tough Times

New research shows the vital role of communities to mental wellbeing

As part of Co-op’s vision of Co-operating for a Fairer World we are partnering with Mind, SAMH and Inspire to bring communities together to support mental wellbeing.

Our partnership commissioned new research ‘Together Through Tough Times’ and the findings confirm that communities have a key role to play in providing good mental wellbeing, with networks of people and hubs creating strong community resilience, which in turn creates the conditions where both individuals and communities can prosper.

Key Findings The research identified four crucial themes that build individual and communities’ resilience:

  1. Community hubs and voluntary sector networks. These allow people to build connections, be active locally and provide access to mental health support.
  2. Open and supportive environments to talk about mental health and wellbeing. An ‘open door culture’ for people to talk about mental wellbeing and share personal experiences.
  3. Actively participating and making connections within communities. Public space provides opportunities for people to build social connections, take pride in their area, relax and reflect. Through neighbourliness, community organising and volunteering, people are able to support their own and others’ resilience.
  4. Identities and belonging. Community identities and shared narratives establish a sense of belonging and help people feel secure and connected to their community, and able to overcome challenges together.

The research also found that some groups had more limited access to the factors in these themes and so were at risk of being left behind. This includes children and young people, newcomers, ethnic minorities and people living in poverty.

Further polling, carried out to explore some of the findings of this research, has revealed that:

  • 37% of people don’t have the support or tools to cope with the ‘ups and downs of life’ such as stress, pressure and difficult circumstances. 8 in 10 (81%) of those said support in the community such as having spaces to talk, activities and services would help them.
  • 10.6 million people in the UK (just under a fifth of the population) describe their current mental wellbeing as poor, rising to almost three in ten 28%) amongst 16- to 24-year-olds.
  • Almost a quarter (24%) of people became isolated from their community due to the pandemic with nearly two-thirds (61%) of those saying this affected their mental wellbeing.

In response to the findings we’re working with our partners Mind, SAMH and Inspire, to introduce new community-based services in over 50 local communities to support over 10,000 people across the county and are calling on governments across the UK to recognise the importance of community resilience in post-pandemic recovery policy making, and beyond.

Interested in finding things in your community that are good for mental wellbeing or are you a group who wants to promote your activity to others?

Search Co-operate, Co-op’s online community centre that helps people in communities come together or contact one of our network of Member Pioneers who help make good things happen in communities.

If you need support with your mental health or know someone that does, the following can help:

  • Contact Mind for support in England and Wales on 0300 123 3393 (lines open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday), text: 86463 or email info@mind.org.uk
  • Contact SAMH for support in Scotland on 0344 800 0550 (lines open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays) or email info@samh.org.uk. For more information visit SAMH
  • Call Inspire for support in NI on 0289 032 8474 (lines open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday)