Look Around was a project led by Feniks in partnership with Health All Round, NHS Lothian and the Polish Psychology Networking Group (PPN). Feniks is a charity in Edinburgh set up in response to the mental health needs of Polish immigrants.

Look Around’s aim was to tackle mental health self stigma in the Polish community in Edinburgh. By doing so Look Around hoped that people would feel able to seek support when they experienced challenges to their mental health. The need for this work was highlighted by research and practice evidence which showed that suicides rates in the Polish Community were higher in Scotland than in Poland and only a small number of Polish people in Edinburgh were accessing support services for their mental health. The project’s Change Network had extensive experience of working with the Polish community and they confirmed that mental health was a taboo within the community which prevented people from talking about mental health and seeking support.

To tackle mental health stigma in the Polish community in Edinburgh, the project employed in January 2015 a Communications Officer to develop and deliver Community Champions training to people in the Polish community who would champion conversations about mental health.

The training aimed to increase understanding of mental health and the impact of the stigma and discrimination on people’s life; and to develop skills and confidence of the Champions to encourage people within the Polish community to seek support for their mental health.

In 2015 the project aimed to run one block of Community Champions training over 6 months. In addition to the training, Communications Officer and Champions co-designed a publication in Polish about sources of support in Edinburgh accessible to the Polish community which could support their mental health. The booklet was distributed and displayed in Polish meeting points (e.g. shops, advice centres, churches, GP practices) in Edinburgh to raise people’s awareness of where they could go for help.

After the completion of the training the Communications Officer met the Champions regularly to assess whether they felt more confident in supporting people and to gather information on the numbers of people they have supported. The Community Champions were offered support by Feniks, Health All Round and other local groups.

The 2016 plan was as follows:

  1. Deliver a Community Champions Programme in 2016 (new group)
  2. Run Community Champions 2015 own project, which is a project Active 50+. They had a several meetings and participants seems very keen to carry on even without a support from the Communications Officer.
  3. Update and re-printe Look Around booklets in 5000 copies.
  4. Deliver training for other Feniks’ Volunteers.
  5. Blog – Communication Officer aimed to create a blog where the articles about mental health, stigma and Community Champions developments will be posted.
  6. Social Media – both Twitter and Facebook were updated on regular basic with all what has been happening with the project.