Photo of the big lake at Roundhay Park by Lison Zhao on Unsplash

Welcome to our latest blog post! We’re excited to share our progress over the past year and the work happening behind the scenes at MindWell. We’ve been clarifying our purpose and working hard to remove the barriers to accessing mental health and wellbeing support in Leeds, focusing on helping those who need it most.

As a small team, we couldn’t have done it alone – a big thank you to everyone who has helped us along the way.

A challenging time

Leeds, like the rest of the country, faces significant mental health challenges. The pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis have made life difficult for many. Demand for mental health services is growing, and inequalities are increasing. We know that conditions are not the same for everyone with unequal access to social, financial, and other protective resources. At the same time, Leeds is fortunate to have a strong third sector dedicated to improving the lives of local people, and city leaders committed to making Leeds a mentally healthy, caring city for all.

We have good foundations in place. Leeds is on its journey to becoming more trauma-informed, with the Compassionate Leeds strategy launched in 2022 and an increase in trauma-informed approaches across the city. Leeds is also home to the Community Mental Health Transformation project and last year committed to becoming a ‘Marmot City’ to ensure everyone has the best start in life and the right building blocks for good health. This is a zoomed-out look at the changes happening, but many smaller initiatives and projects have contributed to these bigger changes and continue to grow out of them.

Our vision

MindWell is a vital part of this vision, but we know there’s still a long way to go. Accessing mental health support remains a challenge. People need clear, accessible information about what support is available and how to access that support in a way that works for them. But not everyone knows about MindWell or can get online. These are the issues we are working to overcome.

We continue to highlight community-based support, showcasing the amazing work done by the city’s third sector, including over 500 organisations, services and groups you can find in our directory and signposted throughout our site. These organisations work alongside NHS services, yet many people remain unaware of the free mental health and wellbeing support available in their community or what to do in a mental health crisis.

Highlights from the past year

Jane, our workshop leader and a child are making owls at the MindWell stall at Kinder Leeds Festival. Jane has a light skin tone, short red hair and wears glasses and a black a grey jumper. The child has a pale sking tone and long, blonde hair. They are bent over the table as Jane demonstrates owl making.
MindWell’s Give a Hoot! workshop at last year’s Kinder Leeds Festival

Despite the tough environment, MindWell has been working hard to improve our service so we all have the tools needed to make informed choices and find the right support any time of day or night.

Here are some of our achievements over the past year:

  • Site visitors: Our website has performed exceptionally well over the past year, especially compared to others in the Health and Wellbeing sector. 
  • Refreshed focus: Updated our vision, mission, and values to help us focus our efforts.
  • New advisory board: Formed an advisory board with key partners from across the city to improve our governance, content and co-design processes, and how we listen to and involve people with lived experience. 
  • Campaigns: Continued our Give a Hoot! campaign (with help from a Leeds Inspired small grant) which turned into a multi-workshop campaign showcased at Leeds Museum. We also launched our ‘Move Your Way’ campaign for Mental Health Awareness Week, with a free downloadable resource.
  • Wellbeing groups: We now have 5 key pages signposting local mental health and wellbeing support groups.
  • Partnerships: Partnered with Being You Leeds, the Community Mental Health Transformation project and Mindful Employer to house their content and joined Touchstone’s citywide Anti-Stigma Partnership working group. We are also exploring integrations with Leeds Directory for more efficient data management.
  • Accessibility tool: Installed Recite Me, which translates content into over 100 languages and supports various accessibility needs. 
  • Content development: Begun work on a new process to meet PIF Tick standards launching later this year. (PIF stands for Patient Information Forum. The PIF Tick is a health information quality mark. It is a way to identify Trusted Information Creators who produce content that meets the 10 PIF Tick criteria.)
  • Toolkit for professionals: Created a toolkit for GPs and healthcare professionals with shortened links for use in patient communication systems.
  • Volunteer programme: Developed a new programme which will offer volunteers a wide range of benefits and allow MindWell to increase its awareness, capacity and reach across the city.
  • Innovative solutions: Explored proposals for innovative solutions, including a personalisation tool for our site.

Our future plans

While we’ve made significant progress, we continue to face challenges, particularly around capacity and funding. Our renewed focus on removing barriers to mental health support in Leeds, will concentrate on six key areas:

  1. Quality – Providing quality information reflecting the latest mental health and wellbeing advice.
  2. Making it easy – Making information easy to browse, understand, and find.
  3. Inclusion – Ensuring information is available to all, meeting health and digital literacy, accessibility, and cultural needs.
  4. Working together – Bridging the digital and real-world divide, tackling digital exclusion, and developing links with communities and organisations.
  5. Prevention and recovery – Supporting people throughout their lives with a compassionate, non-judgmental, trauma-informed approach.
  6. Growth – Developing a sustainable, financially secure organisation that integrates with other systems in Leeds.

Help share our vision by downloading our brief strategy overview

Next 12 months

Here’s what we plan to address in the coming year:

  • Refreshing content: Improve MindWell’s content in line with PIF Tick standards, including new mental health signposting for neurodivergent and older people.
  • Volunteer programme: Launching a new programme to offer volunteers a wide range of benefits and allow MindWell to increase its awareness, capacity and reach across the city. Check out our recent attendance at the Mental Health Marketplace event organised by Forum Central.
  • Sustainable directory: Develop and embed a sustainable method for keeping our directory of services up-to-date.
  • Product roadmap: Outline the vision and direction of MindWell, including technical improvements and innovations.
  • Engagement: Expand our digital presence to grow our audience and engage with different online communities in meaningful ways.
  • Trauma-informed approach: Continue developing a trauma-informed approach in line with the city’s mental health strategy.

We are committed to making MindWell the go-to online source for mental health and wellbeing support for adults in Leeds. Thank you for being part of our journey.

For more detailed information about our mission and strategy, visit our About MindWell section. Don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly newsletter and stay tuned for more updates as we continue to work towards a mentally healthy Leeds!