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South Glasgow Adult Community Mental Health Teams introduce new self care boxes to help service users with their mental health during the pandemic

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

A new initiative from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s South Adult Community Mental Health Teams will see 400 self-care boxes distributed to service users with mental health difficulties to help them cope during the pandemic.  

Each box is tailored for individual patients and their therapeutic needs, following assessment by an occupational therapist. They may include things like herb growing kits, colouring books to help with concentration, notebooks to aid communication with friends and family, weekly planners to help plan a weekly activity structure, relaxation advice and tips on sleeping well. Funding for the materials required for this intervention was secured via a successful application to the Covid Endowments Management Committee.

The idea came from Megan Cassidy, senior occupational therapist, to help adults with complex mental health difficulties such as psychoses and mood disorders. Bearing in mind the additional stress, anxiety and worries brought on by the pandemic may have been particularly hard for people already managing complex mental health issues.

Occupational therapy uses purposeful activity to help develop, maintain or improve functional skills or abilities. As well as increasing social inclusion and improving mental health and wellbeing. Occupational therapists work with people facing physical, mental and social challenges to help them do things they want and need to do in the spheres of work, leisure and self maintenance. 

Megan Cassidy, senior occupational therapist, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde commented:

“In these unprecedented times, mental health services need to be creative, adaptable and practical. These are skills the south Glasgow Community Mental Health Team Occupational Therapists used in order to create the Self Care Box therapeutic intervention. Making activities accessible has always been a hallmark of occupational therapy practice and the Self Care Box intervention ensures that, even during lockdown restrictions, our service users have access to the tools and advice to help them maintain their health.”

As with many services during the pandemic, social distancing and safety measures have been put in place to protect service users, carers and staff. The Self Care Boxes support people’s mental health remotely, alongside follow-up from the Community Mental Health Team.

Fiona Brown, Lead Occupational Therapist for South Glasgow Community Mental Health Teams, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde:

“We are all living through difficult circumstances right now. We hope with our new initiative, we can help those who are struggling with their mental health in a new and innovative way.

“The Self Care Boxes are a therapeutic intervention which will provide clients with a variety of activities tailored to their needs and interests. They are designed to help patients who have been unable to access their usual activities to manage their mental health, experienced loss of confidence, increased stress and anxiety and isolation during the pandemic.”

Initial findings from the standardised assessment scores are mostly demonstrating an improvement in service user perceived general well-being. Caution is required, however, as this is a clinical intervention and not clinical research. Also, improvements in wellbeing are from service users who are mostly receiving input from various disciplines from the health care team so improved wellbeing scores could be attributed to a range of multidisciplinary team interventions.  

Some feedback from people who have been using the activities in a therapeutic way has included:

  • The appreciation of having hand cream to soothe dry hands from the amount of handwashing we now do
  • The stress balls have been used to vent frustrations in a safe way by throwing it against a wall
  • Use of the stress balls have also been a positive alternative behaviour to self-harming
  • Mindfulness colouring in has aided a reduction in stress and anxiety
  • The word puzzles have been helpful to build concentration in small achievable steps

The Self Care Box intervention is only available for service users who have an open episode of care with the South Glasgow Community Mental Health Teams.




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Last Updated: 23 December 2020