Safely Held Spaces’ vision is of safe, compassionate, empowering support in local communities in the UK for people experiencing extreme mental and emotional distress and altered states, often called psychosis, and for the people supporting them.
We aim to achieve this vision by exploring and challenging the current mental health paradigm, piloting and seeking to influence the development of safe spaces for holders and experiencers and improving access to information on where to find safe spaces and other forms of support
What we do
People experiencing mental and emotional distress tell us they want to be met with compassion, that they want to feel empowered, and crucially, that they want to be given the opportunity to find meaning in their experiences.
With over half a trillion pounds spent on mental health services and research since the 1980s, and outcomes getting worse instead of better, Safely Held Spaces believes now is the time for us to come together to reimagine a better way of supporting one another.
That’s why a significant part of Safely Held Spaces’ work focuses on bringing about a paradigm shift; changing the story we tell ourselves about why mental and emotional distress happens, and reimagining the kinds of support we as a society offer to both holders and experiencers.
We are providing training to mental health professionals, experiencers and holders to empower them to speak out in the media about how we can reimagine our understanding of, and responses to mental and emotional distress. We're doing this so that a broader range of voices can be heard on television, radio and online.
If you’re interested in taking part in Safely Held Spaces’ broadcast media training, click here to contact us.
We are also developing training for news professionals and journalists to start thinking about people's journeys of mental and emotional distress in a new light. The training explores mental health as a contested area and the implications of this in terms of language and how we tell mental health stories. Instead of asking, ‘what's wrong with you?’ maybe a better question would be, ‘‘tell me what happened to you in your life.’
The training also looks at the emerging area of trauma, and explores how becoming trauma-informed can help news professionals to add greater depth to their news reports and bring out the hidden human stories. If you are interested in joining our training for news professionals and journalists, click here to contact us.
Supporting holders and experiencers
When someone experiences extreme mental and emotional distress and altered states, the experience is usually witnessed and supported by their family and friends. We describe people experiencing distress as experiencers, and the people who support them as holders. Although intimately intertwined with the experiencer’s journey, Safely Held Spaces sees the holder’s experience as a journey in its own right.
That’s why we provide online weekly peer support groups for family members and friends, to help them make sense of their own experiences as they meet the many challenges that being in this supporting role brings.
We’re also carrying out research to better understand and describe the holder’s journey, so that we can start to influence the kinds of support that are available for supporters. And we are exploring a new approach to home-based support for experiencers and holders that we are calling ‘Compassionate Crew'.
Signposting to support
We also think it's really important that information about where to find safe spaces and other forms of support is readily available. So SHS is collaborating with the Hub of Hope, the UK’s leading mental health support signposting tool, to help people to find a range of different support options in their communities.
Some of these activities are already in progress, and some are still in development. If you would like to get involved in creating and shaping Safely Held Spaces’ work, or just to find out more, please get in touch.