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VSA to Further Expand Vital Mental Wellbeing Services

North east social care charity VSA has today announced that it has purchased Queen Mother House from the British Red Cross. The charity, which is the largest provider of mental health services and support in Aberdeen, provides a range of outreach and residential services across the city and has seen demand for its services increase as a result of the pandemic.

John Booth, Chief Operating Officer, said, “ 75% of people develop a mental health condition before the age of 24; the impact of the coronavirus and the emergency measures to help flatten the curve is causing children and adults to feel overwhelmed and has increased people’s anxiety now. At VSA, we are working on expanding our mental health & wellbeing services which is why we have further invested and reaffirmed our commitment to the people of Aberdeen through the purchase of Queen Mother House. Working in partnership with Aberdeen Health & Social Care Partnership, it is our intention to extensively refurbish QMH to become a new mental health & wellbeing residential home to support adults on their journey to recovery.”

John added, “We will potentially be living with the consequences of this outbreak for decades to come- the questions we now need to ask is, do we have a mental health ticking time bomb? and how do we come together to identify and expand appropriate early mental health intervention for children and adults.”

Mental Health, in comparison to other areas of health, is decades behind, and by 2030[i], mental health problems are forecasted to be the main cause of global mortality and morbidity. The charity recently completed the first phase of its Changing Lives Campaign by building a brand new £3.2 Million mental health facility right in the heart of Aberdeen on Holburn Street. The service, which opened in late 2021 after a three-year fundraising campaign, is already at capacity. It is hoped that the addition of Queen Mother House will provide more residential support and further expansion to the charity’s community outreach services.

John Booth continues, “At VSA, we have committed to investing further in the mental health services we provide, and an example of that commitment is our new mental wellbeing facility; now more than ever, we need the people of Aberdeen to rally behind us to help us get this in-demand facility open.”

Jennifer Mitchell, Director of External Relations, said, “ We are thrilled to be able to announce today our further commitment to providing support to vulnerable people living with a mental health condition. To make this a reality we are launching phase two of our Changing Lives Campaign- ‘Let’s Do This’ to raise the £800K required to undertake the expansive refurbishment works needed to create an additional mental wellbeing residential home that will support seventeen adults on their journey to recovery.”

The new unit, will support people using one of VSA’s highly regarded mental health support techniques known as the recovery model. Many people who have experience of using mental health services are used to having things done to them or for them, however, the VSA recovery model is about empowering the individual to take control of their lives and understand how to live with their condition. The recovery model encourages individuals to make goals such as developing a new hobby or going out on a social activity, VSA work with individuals on a plan to help them achieve their goals. The charity believes that each person’s journey is unique to them and should be done at their own pace while VSA supports them through this process.

One of the charity’s mental health services users who wishes to remain anonymous said “I struggled with crippling anxiety, the support from VSA has been incredible, it changed my life around, I am now in recovery and VSA worked with me to build my confidence and teach me techniques and tools I can use to help manage my anxiety. Before VSA, I didn’t think life was worth living, but now I can honestly say that VSA has saved my life”

“Although mental health is more openly talked about and recognised in the community, there is still a lot of stigmas attached to it. I would strongly encourage anyone who is feeling overwhelmed to reach out and get support, it can and will change your life.”

To find out more about VSA’s new mental wellbeing facility, how you can get support or to make a donation to the appeal please visit www.vsa.org.uk or cheques can be sent to VSA, 38 Castle Street, Aberdeen, AB11 5YU.

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