Latvian Community Mental Health Project

The Latvian Community Association identified that mental health is not a topic generally discussed within the family environment amongst their community. They applied to CELEBRATE to deliver activities within the community to promote conversations about mental health and improve confidence in the value of support. Additionally they planned 50 counselling sessions with a Latvian counsellor, which would act as “tasters” of talking therapy with the hope these would promote access to further support.

To date, approximately 70 people have participated in activities from this project.

Successes of the Project

Iveta Suna, coordinator of the Latvian Community Association, shares her top five successes from the project:

  • we are building trust within the community to discuss mental health and wellbeing
  • community members have known us for a long time so feel happy to engage in activities we provide
  • the project has allowed us to provide direct support from known people
  • support provided in the Latvian language and with full knowledge and understanding of the cultural / political background of the community is invaluable
  • members know they will be supported, in confidence, for as long as they need

Iveta adds:

“This project model in community is the best working model I have experienced. 85% of members who attended the project activities in the community and used the counselling sessions felt they did not need to search for the other professional mental health support as their needs had been met.  We have achieved a true support system in community.

We strongly believe the local mental health service has become more accessible / available. Some of those provided with counselling went on to seek mental health support from their GP.”

‘Food and Mood’ sessions every three months. People learn new skills, with a particular focus on learning to cook foods from different backgrounds. The group particularly enjoyed a session on Sushi! The sessions teach the impact of food on mood, and generate discussions around mental wellbeing.

Women’s hygiene sessions – which include mental health hygiene – promote a focus on how to look after the body, mind and soul.

Sewing sessions for women – this session is noteworthy for the effort women make to attend every week, because the value the opportunity to be together and get support. The space is so positive and overflows with laughter!

The group celebrated International Women’s Day. Everyone was treated to nice food and entertainment from a Latvian singer. There was a performance from the women’s dance group – but crucially there was a space to talk about the importance of mental health. A speaker from the detention centre in Peterborough attended to share information, plus an inspirational talk from a Latvian women who shared her story of how to be happy and successful with three children. Finally there was an author who shared her experience of writing books.

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