A mental health unit for women with severe and long-standing mental health problems in Plymouth has thanked a spa consultant for providing free pamper sessions to their staff and patients as part of World Mental Health Day (10 October).
Louise Viggers, manager and consultant for Temple Spa, has been visiting women at Livewell Southwest’s Greenfields Unit since World Mental Health Day in October 2018.
Greenfields is a mental health recovery unit run by Livewell Southwest, the social enterprise providing adult physical, mental and social healthcare across Plymouth.
It cares for women with severe and long-standing mental health problems, with an average stay lasting between six and 18 months.
Some of the women will have spent time at more secure units before coming to Greenfields, and the team’s focus is to ensure women feel safe and supported as they get the care they need to feel better.
Unit manager Dianne Bratt and deputy manager Nikki Bloodworth thanked Louise on the anniversary of her first visit with flowers and a tea party.
During her visits, Louise carries out miniature beauty treatments with the women and staff and reinforces the importance of self-care.
Louise, 47, is no stranger to suffering with ill mental health and uses her sessions to remind the women how important they are and that they deserve to look after themselves.
She said: “My brother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when I was 20 and was sectioned a number of times over the following years.
“It wasn’t until I was in my early 40s that I began struggling with my mental health. I felt out on control and tearful and I had a constant feeling of high adrenalin as if waiting for something terrible to happen at any second.”
Louise was diagnosed with generalised anxiety order which she found stemmed from low self-esteem which left her feeling like she didn’t deserve anything good in her life.
She added: “I didn’t believe I deserved my husband and thought that my kids deserved better.
“Over the next two years I took some medication and had counselling including cognitive behavioural therapy.
“Temple Spa and my manager were amazing as were my family and friends.
“Telling work about my mental health problem was huge for me as it was the first time I had shared it with someone other than my husband or closest friend.
“They asked what they could do to support me and have been incredibly important in my recovery.
“My job means that I visit busy mums and working women who felt as though there were no time to pamper themselves, but I was able to encourage people to give themselves some well-deserved me-time because I knew how difficult this was for so many of us.”
During one of her visits to Coral Styles, a retired nurse who used to work at Livewell Southwest, Louise mentioned her struggles and wanting to give something back.
It was Coral who suggested Louise visit Greenfields Unit and she hasn’t looked back since.
Louise added: “I absolutely love visiting Greenfields and pampering the women on the ward and the staff too.
“I love to let them know how important they are and that they deserve to look after themselves because I think it is easy to forget that when you are struggling with your mental health.
“I’ve also begun to share my own story of anxiety with many of my clients which has encouraged many of them to chat to me about their own mental health.
“It’s really lovely to be able to give something back and hopefully make a small difference to someone else.
“It’s a really enjoyable part of my life and I wish I could visit the women more!”
Patients and staff benefit from the visits which take place every six to eight weeks on the unit.
One of the women said she hasn’t missed one of the sessions and looked forward to Louise visiting.
Nikki, deputy unit manager at Greenfields, added: “Louise’s visits are so special to us and we are so grateful to her for all that she does.
“The unit can get incredibly busy and we all get caught up in what we’re doing that sometimes we forget the importance of being kind to ourselves and the benefits and positive effect caring for ourselves can have.”
Louise has shared her experiences in a guest blog for MIND which you can read here.