Sheffield women’s mental health charity hopes to encourage more co-production for better mental health support in city

Despite experiencing a huge spike increase in referrals, a Sheffield women’s mental health charity remains focused on helping communities work together to achieve better mental health and well-being.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 10:05 am

Survivors of Depression in Transition, known as SODIT, offers a range of support for women with mental health issues in Sheffield, and has seen a rise of 400 per cent in referrals.

As lockdown eases, it hopes to encourage more joint work between citizens, communities and organisations, to help tackle the growing challenge of poor mental health, which for some has been exacerbated as a result of the pandemic.

Chair and founder of SODIT, Stephanie de la Haye, said: “It is trying to engage and connect people who don’t normally do these things, to influence health systems, to create more grass roots action and create action in the community.”

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Stephanie de la Haye, chair and founder of SODIT.

She believes using methods like these will ‘equalise power and relationships’.

Sowing the Seeds, which was due to launch in 2020, encourages communities to come together to build on understanding and develop skills, in order to generate a stronger voice, influence the health system and to be more involved in their own care and support.

It is being funded by the Lottery Community Fund and South Yorkshire Community Foundation, and will work with statutory organisations that provide mental health and wider health services.

Stephanie believes that the Duchess of Sussex speaking out about her own mental health will encourage others to talk.

SODIT at World Mental Health Day in the Winter gardens, pre pandemic.

“It is very difficult for people to be open about suicidal thoughts due to the stigma and discrimination.”

Regardless of who you are, she stresses that it is important to be open about mental health issues ‘as early as possible’ and to not let things build up ‘like a pressure cooker’.

“It doesn’t matter who it is. It is about the validation of their experience – that needs to be taken seriously. When it comes to impact, I think whether you follow the royals or not, it’s good to talk.”

However, she adds there is ‘still a way to go’ in how mental health is addressed in the UK and more services are needed.

Raising funds for SODIT at the Sheffield run, pre pandemic.

Stephanie has described the past year as ‘quite a challenge’ for SODIT, as it has seen an increase in users - like many other organisations in Sheffield - and recruited more volunteers to meet some of that demand.

The charity has been offering a mix of physical drop in sessions throughout lockdown, but most have been via phone or online, with support offered via text and WhatsApp too.

A therapeutic ‘holding service’ was also introduced at the start of March last year.

Stephanie told how sometimes people just need someone to talk to and for someone to listen to them, especially during a period where services are so stretched.

SODIT has been offering online craft therapy throughout the pandemic. Pictured is some art work from a SODIT member.

She said: “During the waiting time to have therapy, people tend not to say ‘what do I do while I’m waiting’. It’s a service that has come into its own, giving people choices.”

The holding service is an opportunity for people to connect with someone who will provide a listening ear, though not counselling. It can also help to signpost users to other services.

SODIT is hoping to host a series of events later in the year subject to lockdown restrictions being lifted.

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