“Care for a Cuppa” Virtual Coffee Shop
The “Mind the Gap” initiative promotes social solidarity and connectedness, while avoiding social distancing and isolation. In the world of mental health, people with lived experience with mental health conditions are among the vulnerable who often find themselves isolated and alone, feeling abandoned and ostracised, and even more so during this time of the COVID pandemic. To add to the vulnerability of people with mental health conditions, the pandemic causes increased anxiety levels and impact on mental wellbeing with a constant reminder of COVID in the media, internet, television and our ‘new way of life and reality’.
The Global Mental Health Peer Network (GMHPN), an international mental health lived experience organisation, based in South Africa and represented in 28 countries, plans to set up a “Virtual Coffee Shop” where individuals with lived experience with mental health conditions or anyone experiencing mental health problems as a result of COVID are able to join others for a casual and informal chat. The idea is that people have the opportunity to meet new people for a conversation unrelated to COVID – this gives a way to be distracted from the constant reminders of COVID and bring people out of social isolation while building new friendships.
The Virtual Coffee Shop will be coordinated by the Global Mental Health Peer Network staff on a weekly basis through the Zoom meeting platform. An invitation will be disseminated via “Mind the Gap – South Africa”, the GMHPN’s network platforms and organisational partners. In addition to the Virtual Coffee Shop, the GMHPN will set up a Facebook page as well to enhance connectedness.
The funds raised will assist towards the online platform fee, data usage and staff time.