Mindfulness is instrumental in improving mental health

Funding boost...Duncan and the FEAT team receive the bumper cheque from Santander representatives.
Funding boost...Duncan and the FEAT team receive the bumper cheque from Santander representatives.

Helping people to look after their mental health is the aim of new mindfulness courses being offered by a Fife-based organisation.

Fife Employment Access Trust (FEAT) has been given a funding boost of £5000 to organise a series of sessions for Fifers experiencing mental health difficulties.

Working together...there are 20 members of staff at FEAT in Glenrothes, three of whom are mindfulness tutors.  Pic: George McLuskie.

Working together...there are 20 members of staff at FEAT in Glenrothes, three of whom are mindfulness tutors. Pic: George McLuskie.

The donation was provided by the Santander Foundation, which offers Discovery Grants to UK registered charities for projects that help disadvantaged people in local communities.

FEAT helps people with mental health issues better self-manage their conditions with a view to accessing employment, voluntary work or other activities.

The grant will enable people to develop strategies to help cope with life’s challenges through practising mindfulness techniques.

Past participants have cited life-changing improvements when regularly using mindfulness, including reduced levels of anxiety or depression and improvements in sleeping and concentration.

Duncan Mitchell, general manager at FEAT, which is based in Glenrothes, said: “We have been running mindfulness courses for the last five years. We have three mindfulness tutors in our staff team of 20.

“We’ve run courses in the past specifically for people with mental health conditions. We also run courses for the general public as mindfulness can be a great method of preventing poor mental health.

“Our aim is to offer a rolling series of courses over the coming 12 months using different venues across Fife.

“The course runs for eight weeks, with sessions lasting about two hours at a time, once per week. We welcome referrals and self-referrals.”

He continued: “The support from the Santander Foundation will allow us to help more people to look after their mental health.

“Modern daily living comes with so many demands that it’s no surprise so many people struggle to cope. Mindfulness is one method of helping to overcome daily difficulties and, once you’ve learned the basics, it’s a technique you can utilise for evermore.”

Duncan said there are usually no more than 12 people on a course at any one time as a key part of each session is allowing everyone to speak about their experiences after each meditation.

He said: “The funding from Santander is about delivering courses to adults, but we also do partnership work with NHS Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services where we deliver mindfulness to young people experiencing emotional distress.

“The beauty of mindfulness is that it’s essentially free once you’ve mastered the basics and you can practice it almost anywhere.”

Mindfulness teaches people how to recognise small changes in the physical sensations in their body; what is happening in the world around them using their physical senses; and their thoughts, emotions and moods.

The course programme encourages people to be aware of their experiences – good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant – from moment to moment so they can respond more skilfully to situations.

“Overall the course is helpful in dealing with an ongoing difficulty related to mental health,” said Duncan.

“The problem may not change but the way we learn to relate to it can.

“We encourage participants to actively practice after the course has ended to ensure their practice becomes a habit.

“Outcomes achieved to date have been life-changing for those taking part.

“We have also had no other results of this positive nature in such a short period of time in our other interventions.

“These include reduced anxiety/stress, improved mental/physical health, sleep patterns and pain management.”

He added: “For those attending as part of an employability programme we’ve found it can help people to stay calm before and during job interviews.”

To find out more contact FEAT on (01592) 759371 or email: feat@journeytowork.co.uk