Buckinghamshire Mind, the mental health charity, has received a grant of £10,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to deliver a Digital Inclusion Project to remove barriers to Information Technology that can disadvantage people with mental health problems.
Data from the Citizens’ Advice Bureau suggests there is low use of the internet among people with mental health problems due to low confidence, anxiety and complex social and health issues. Other factors are lack of appropriate skills support, access to WiFi and money for mobile data due to precarious social income.
It is very important for people who have experienced a period of poor mental health to get back in to community life.
Digital inclusion can support community reintegration and promote a feeling of control over areas such as housing and benefits. In addition, understanding digital technology opens up future possibilities and gives people the confidence to plan for the future.
Buckinghamshire Mind will provide supportive Digital Inclusion sessions for its mental health service users in its High Wycombe, Chesham and Aylesbury premises. The aim will be to remove the fear of using IT and increase accessibility.
Buckinghamshire Mind’s service users explain how they would benefit from these sessions:
“It would be nice to be able to look stuff up, catch up on news and order things online when you don't feel like going out.”
“I'd like to be able to contact people on Facebook.”
The Digital Inclusion Project aims to engage learners in social activities and provide skills for independent living.
Vicky Royal, Day Services Team Lead, Buckinghamshire Mind, said: “We want everyone to have the level of access they want to information, opportunities, education and training, activities, saving money and social connection.
"The Digital Inclusion Project aims to remove the barriers that put some people at a disadvantage and show them that IT opportunities can be fun, entertaining and useful.
"Everyone should have access to the internet and, more importantly, someone who can show them how to use it in the most appropriate way for their needs.
"That is our vision for this project. We are very grateful to the Big Lottery Fund for providing this grant to allow us to achieve our vision.”
Buckinghamshire Mind will be involving service users with the development of a plan of action to deliver the Project through its Service User Council. The charity will also be recruiting a worker to motivate and encourage people to use IT.