Copyright © 2021 Community Living Well

Latest News

Pilot Mental Health Programme for Young People

Pilot mental health programme for young people: Teenage boy sitting in his bedroom looks anxious as he rests his head in his hand

Community Living Well Pilot Mental Health programme for young people aged 19-24 with mental health needs

Re-discovering Touch

The Community Living Well Self-Care service is trialling a new programme for young people aged 19-24, which will run until the end of August. Six participants will take place in workshops, supported by two trainers, to allow a feeling of safety. The workshops are aimed at young people aged 19-24 with mental health needs (in Primary Care), and who are registered with a GP in Kensington & Chelsea, Paddington or Queen’s Park.

The pilot mental health programme will include:

  • A two-part series of (2) workshops
  • Seated massage or reflexology sessions for participants through our current Unwind project
  • 1:1 phone-guided meditation, or phone or online motivational coaching.

The two-part interactive workshops will explore breath work, meditation skills and the power of touch, as a way to reconnect with the recovery in each of us, building a bridge between mind and body to increase confidence and capacity for decision making.

Both workshops will begin with an introduction to breathing/body-scan/meditation, in different positions (lying down, sitting, standing and moving), with discussion on how these affect the body. We break for lunch and offer a light lunch to participants.

The second part of workshop one will be a practical session, guided by a qualified trainer. Participants will be given the opportunity to learn about touch, with discussion and feedback on how the touch feels and how it affects the body locally or also mentally or emotionally. Participants do not have to take part in the practical element if they do not wish to, but can observe and learn instead.

The session will close with a short meditation.

The second part of workshop two will introduce light touch, followed by learning, giving and receiving a mini massage routine, blending the two types of touch to enable participants to explore the contrast of these – a chance to feedback and a short meditation to close.

Our current Unwind project has been extremely popular.

One participant said, “It wasn’t long after the reflex session in October that I began to feel ok. Since then, over the past month, I haven’t been feeling down, just average – which is brilliant.”

Clients have also benefitted from phone meditation. We believe that motivational coaching may also be of benefit to this group.

How to register

To register for this service, you must be aged 19-24 and registered with a GP in Kensington & Chelsea, Queen’s Park or Paddington. Complete this form and return it to [email protected]

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Self-Care
Posted on: 7th June 2021

How Talking Therapies can help you

lady holds a phone to her ear as she finds out how talking therapies can help

Throughout the pandemic, Talking Therapies (IAPT) have provided support for people who were self-isolating or anxious about the impact of the virus on themselves, their families and loved ones. Find out how Talking Therapies can help you by reading about other people’s experiences.

How Talking Therapies can help

Talking Therapies (IAPT) provide a range of support for when you experience difficult emotions, such as low mood, anxiety and stress. They can also support people with managing the practical and emotional aspects of living with long-term physical health conditions.

Last month, we gathered feedback from those who have received support from our team. People talked about how caring and understanding their therapists were, that their sessions were tailored to their individual needs, and how they learnt techniques they can use to cope.


“[My therapist] was caring, friendly, reassuring and professional. I found the process very helpful.”

“They have been incredibly supportive and helpful throughout and the sessions have offered me insights, guidance, tools and methods to work on myself. It’s been a very positive experience. Thank you.”

“I will be forever grateful for their genuine care and support.”


“Had a really good experience with this service this time round. Felt like [the therapist] really listened and adjusted my appointments according to my needs.”

“I am so thankful for all of your help and guidance in all of my sessions. My therapist was friendly at all times and made me smile and laugh while remaining professional. She was amazing at being so understanding of my shift pattern and always working to find available sessions for me. I always felt she was going the extra mile to support me and give me reading and tools to use between sessions. I couldn’t have got through the pandemic without this. Thank you for all your help.”

“They listened to my problems with real care and attention and were happy to tailor the sessions around my specific needs. Their insights and curious nature have prompted me to find answers that I didn’t know I had. I found them to be extremely warm, kind and professional.”


“Extremely happy with the service provided by [my therapist]. She taught me coping techniques for life which I am most grateful for.”

“They were amazing throughout my sessions. They helped me a lot and taught me how to deal with my anxiety. I really appreciate everything they have done.”

“The treatment I have received has been extremely useful in understanding my thought processes and how to make behavioural changes that will make a difference. I have increasingly used some of the coping tactics over the course of the treatment and I have seen a marked improvement in my positivity and reduced levels of anxiety and stress.”

“They provided me with invaluable tools that I will and can continue to use. They empathised and explained how they hoped the tools would work then always checked in with me. Amazing service from an amazing person.”


“Her commitment to my care was clear, as she would come to each session prepared with new ideas and methods to help me break through deeply ingrained fears and challenge long-held beliefs. Her patient and empathetic manner created a safe and supportive environment where I could openly share my concerns and find the solutions and encouragement I needed to work through each new challenge.”

“My time with my Community Living Well therapist has had a remarkable impact on my mental health and well-being. After several unsuccessful experiences with therapy over the course of many years, I have been amazed by the progress I was able to make in just a few months.”

“My experience at the clinic, although all done through Zoom because of COVID, has changed my life forever. Getting myself on the waiting list for the clinic was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

How to refer to Community Living Well

If you feel you need extra support with any difficult emotions, such as low mood, stress or anxiety, and would like to speak to someone, don’t hesitate to contact us. You can ask your GP to refer you, complete this online self-referral form or call 020 3317 4200.


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Talking Therapies
Posted on: 25th May 2021

Talking Therapies – Lise’s Story

Talking Therapies: A woman talks on the phone looking out of her window at the sunny sky

Talking Therapies (IAPT) provide a range of support for when you experience difficult emotions, such as low mood, anxiety and stress.

Lise has struggled with anxiety for most of her life. We spoke to her to find out more about how her recent experience with Talking Therapies has helped her to cope.

How did you hear about Talking Therapies?

I heard about it through my GP. I’d had a bad year and was struggling. She offered not only medication but also the opportunity to refer myself to talking therapy. I was nervous, as I haven’t had great experience with therapy in the past, but I felt needed something to change.

I completed the referral form and then within a week someone was in contact and we started the process. I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly – it was so easy!

Which kind of therapy did you receive?

I had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), so my first sessions were an introduction to CBT. I learnt about what it is and how it works. I realised that you can talk forever and ever about trauma in the past, but it’s how you deal with it in the present. I can’t change what happened, but I can do something about it now.

My initial sessions were over the phone. As you can’t see the person, it made it easier to talk, especially at the beginning. As I started to feel more comfortable, it became helpful to see the therapist on a video call. She could share images and diagrams on screen.

It was also super convenient – you’re already at home! I could finish work and then start my therapy sessions straight away, as I didn’t need to travel anywhere. It opens up the opportunity for therapy in a different way.

Can you talk me through how the sessions were run? What did they involve?

The original sessions focused on methods I could use to manage my anxiety, such as tools like starting a ‘worry diary’. Then the sessions became more personalised. With my therapist, we would check-in to find out how I was doing, then we would have a conversation about different themes each week. The themes related to where the anxiety is within me. We discussed problems versus worries, negative core beliefs, and worry issues.

Every week I was given work to do at home. It was made clear that I had to put in the effort; the therapist couldn’t solve the problem for me. It was very inclusive. Together, we would discuss what was next, how I wanted to do it, what I felt I needed. If I didn’t know, then the therapist helped to guide me.

Have the methods helped?

Yes, absolutely. My therapist said, “I will teach you to become your own therapist”, which is a really good point. You can’t become reliant on people, it’s me that has to manage this going forward. We’re now working on a programme for me to use when the sessions have finished.

The whole experience has given me confidence to move forward. I talk about my feelings much more now. My friends and family have noticed how open I am. I’ve learnt that worrying is not abnormal.

Would you recommend Talking Therapies?

Yes, 100% – it has been truly fantastic for me. I’m so hugely grateful to have access to this therapy.

As mentioned, the therapy I’d had in the past wasn’t the best for my situation, but I didn’t know it at the time. This time, I felt so supported and understood. If something isn’t working, your therapist can change it. They listen to how you feel, then steer towards a therapy to help you – you’re included in the decision.

That’s why I wanted to share my story, in the hope that it will help others who may be struggling. There is help out there. Give it a go. You can always stop if you don’t get on with it. It’s important to know that you’re not alone in this.

Refer yourself for Talking Therapy

Our Talking Therapy team can help if you are struggling with anxiety, depression or low mood. Find out more about the service and register.



Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Talking Therapies
Posted on: 12th May 2021

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

Monday 10 – Sunday 16 May 2021

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week – an opportunity to raise more awareness of mental health and help break down the stigma.

This year’s theme is nature. Spending time in and around nature can have a positive impact on our mental health and wellbeing. The fresh air, appreciating your natural surroundings, and connecting with the outdoors has been proven to have many health benefits.

What can I do?

This year, the Mental Health Foundation wants to inspire more people to connect with nature in new ways, noticing the impact that this connection can have for their mental health.

During Mental Health Awareness Week, try to get involved in one of three ways:

  • Experience nature: take time to recognise and grow your connection with nature during the week. Take a moment to notice and celebrate nature in your daily life. You might be surprised by what you notice!
  • Share nature: Take a photo, video or sound recording and share the connections you’ve made during the week, to inspire others. Join the discussion on how you’re connecting with nature by using the hashtags #ConnectWithNature #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
  • Talk about nature: use our tips, school packs, research and policy guides to discuss in your family, school, workplace and community how you can help encourage people to find new ways to connect with nature in your local environment.

(Source: The Mental Health Foundation)

Peer Support Groups

The Community Living Well Peer Support team runs various social groups – all taking place online at the moment. If you are registered with the Peer Support service, you can take part in these groups, which include sessions such as Nature Drawing and the History of Gardening. These groups can help you connect with nature, as well as meet people who may have similar experiences to you.

Find out more or register for Peer Support.


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Peer Support
Posted on: 10th May 2021

Mental Health Services Awareness Event

Mental Health Services

Who are they for and what do they do?

An interactive online event

Tuesday 25th May, 2pm – 4.30pm

Join this interactive event to find out more about your local mental health services in Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea. A chance to ask everything you have always wanted to know about them but didn’t know who to ask.

Speakers include:

Anthony Newton and Sheila Ravindran, Kensington & Chelsea IAPT and Westminster Talking Therapies – Free and confidential talking therapies easily accessible through self-referral or GP.

Dr Rachel O’Beney, Westminster Psychology – Services relating to enduring and serious mental illness.

Dr Emma Coore, GP – Antidepressants used to treat depression.

Alice Gibson, Health Visiting Service, Perinatal and Infant Mental Health for Kensington & Chelsea – Services related to post-natal depression.

Michael Stones, Kooth – Free counselling service for young people that can be accessed online and face-to-face.

Robert Cuming, Help Counselling – Low cost counselling.

More information…

To find out more, or to register for the event, please contact Michelle Poponne (K&C): [email protected] or Nanda Poleon (Westminster): [email protected]

This event has been organised in partnership with the BME Health Forum, Kensington & Chelsea IAPT and Westminster Talking Therapies to give an opportunity to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities in the bi-borough to find out more about the range of local mental health services and support available, as well as to ask service providers first-hand about their services. 

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Talking Therapies
Posted on: 7th May 2021

Talking About Suicide

man rests his head on his hands as he talks to someone about suicide

This year has been particularly difficult for all of us; the pandemic and months of lockdown restrictions have had a massive impact on our daily lives as well as our mental health. This is a lot to cope with and it is understandable that many of us are struggling with our mental health and wellbeing or facing challenges in life.

Talking About Suicide

Many of us are affected by suicide or suicidal feelings throughout our lives. Even though mental health awareness has increased in recent years, talking about suicide is still widely stigmatised. Too many of us suffer in silence.

“I couldn’t see past the pain. It was a different reality for me. I only knew I wanted the pain to stop, the anguish to go away.”

It can be scary talking to someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts, but it really can make a difference.

How can I support someone in a crisis?

If someone tells you they are experiencing suicidal thoughts, always take them seriously.

Ask open questions – this invites them to answer more than ‘yes’ or ‘no’, for example, ‘How are you feeling?’ or ‘What happened next?’

Try not to judge – it’s important not to blame the person or give your own opinion on the situation.

Give them time and listen – be patient, as it has probably been very difficult for them to open up to you.

Don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions – being direct lets the person know they can talk freely about how they’re feeling. Ask ‘Are you having suicidal thoughts?’ or ‘Have you felt like you want to end your life?’

If you need urgent assistance…

  • Contact your GP surgery
  • Contact Central North West London NHS Trust’s Single Point of Access (SPA) – a first point of contact for people experiencing a mental health crisis: 0800 0234 650

If you or someone else that you know is at immediate risk:

  • You can attend Accident & Emergency (A&E)
    • Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, 369 Fulham Road, London, SW10 9NH
    • The Royal Marsden Hospital, 203 Fulham Road, London SW3 6JJ
    • St Mary’s Hospital, Praed Street, London W2 1NY
  • If you have already taken an overdose or injured yourself, dial 999

Additional support…

Mind has some information you may find helpful, including how you can access treatment and support.

The Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year: call free on 116 123.

If you feel you need additional support with anxiety, depression or low mood, our Talking Therapies service may be able to help. Find out more about the service and register.

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Talking Therapies
Posted on: 20th April 2021

Spring/Summer 2021 Magazine available now!

Community Living Well magazine Spring 2021 cover image

Spring-Summer Edition 2021 (best for viewing on mobile device)

Spring-Summer Edition 2021 (best for viewing on desktop)

Welcome to the Spring/Summer 2021 edition of Community Living Well magazine. We hope you have continued to stay well during these extremely challenging few months.

We have heard from many of you about how this lockdown has been especially tough. It has been hard to stay positive and motivated, so in this edition we wanted to highlight some simple things that you can do to help.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing are five steps you can take which can help to improve your overall wellbeing. We’ve suggested a range of different ways that you can incorporate these steps into your daily lives, depending on how much time you have.

We spoke to Lise, who has recently completed some Talking Therapy (IAPT) sessions. She was keen to share her story as she hoped it would encourage anyone struggling with anxiety or low mood to seek support – you can read about her experience on page 12.


There’s practical information on avoiding burnout at work, advice if you are looking for a new job, plus tips on how you can try to improve your sleep.

If you have any suggestions, features, stories or feedback about the magazine, please contact me, Stewart, at [email protected].

Community Living Well is a mental health service for those registered with a GP in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, or the Queen’s Park and Paddington areas of Westminster. The services on offer include talking therapies, support groups, help with employment and support with debt, housing and benefits issues. Self-referrals can be made here. For more information please call 020 3317 4200.

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 12th April 2021

Stress Awareness Month 2021

stressed man resting head on table with papers scattered in front of him

April is Stress Awareness Month. It has been held every April since 1992 to increase awareness about the causes and cures for modern day stress that affects so many of us.

Many of us experience high levels of stress and it can be extremely damaging to our health. Stress is a significant factor in mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, and it is also linked to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia and more.

Living through the coronavirus pandemic for the past year has caused even more stress, as we struggle to cope with the overwhelming uncertainty.

What can I do?

The Stress Management Society ( suggests a list of things that you can do this month to help raise awareness and break the stigma around stress, whether it is you or someone that you know who is struggling:

  • Talk about stress and its effects – reduce the stigma associated with stress by talking about it openly and freely with friends, family and colleagues.
  • Share your coping mechanisms – if something has worked for you, why not share it? It might benefit someone you care about and may help you take your focus off your own challenges.
  • Be nice to those who are stressed and anxious – we are all likely to experience stress and anxiety in our lifetime, so treat others with compassion and empathy.
  • Look after yourself – we all need to think more about self-care. Take time out of your day to relax or do something that you enjoy. Don’t forget to exercise and eat well, even when you feel too stressed.

If you need support…

Community Living Well Talking Therapies (IAPT) provides a range of support for when you experience difficult emotions, such as low mood, anxiety and stress. It can also support people with managing the practical and emotional aspects of living with long-term physical health conditions.

Find out more about Talking therapies (IAPT), or to refer yourself, complete this online form or call 020 3317 4200.

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Talking Therapies
Posted on: 8th April 2021

Learn to be Mental Health Aware

group of young people smiling learning to be aware of mental health

Kensington & Chelsea Mind are working with Kensington & Chelsea Social Council (KCSC) to deliver a free mental health training course to people living or working in North Kensington as part of KCSC’s ongoing self-care programme.

The half-day course will be offered online between now and March 2022 and is an accredited training developed by Mental Health First Aid (England) (MHFA) called Mental Health Aware.

Be Mental Health Aware

The training offers:

  • Facilitation by qualified and experienced instructors
  • A 3.5hr online session of presentations, group discussions and workshop activities
  • A maximum group size of 25
  • A manual and workbook for every participant to keep for future reference
  • A certificate of completion from MHFA (England) stating that the participant is ‘mental health aware’

What participants can expect to learn:

  • What mental health is and how to challenge stigma
  • A basic knowledge of some common mental health issues
  • An introduction to looking after your own mental health and maintaining wellbeing
  • Confidence to support someone in distress or who may be experiencing a mental health issue
  • Where to go for advice and support locally and how to get help in a crisis

Who is it for?

This training normally costs £150 but is being supported by funding from West London Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS) so that it can be offered as a free programme to help build confidence and resilience around mental health in our community.

Half the courses will be open to individuals who meet the eligibility criteria of living or working in North Kensington.

The remaining courses are on offer to groups and community organisations based in and serving the area who would like to develop their capacity to be mental health aware. Your group would receive:

  • A bespoke Mental Health Aware training course for up to 25 of your members, staff and volunteers to run at a time that works for you
  • A named Mind contact who will facilitate 2 follow up mentoring sessions to help embed your new mental health skills in your group
  • Ongoing advice and information through Mind’s dedicated support line


Click the date you require and follow the instructions:

Saturday 22nd May, 9.30am – 1pm

Wednesday 14th July, 2pm – 5.30pm

For more information or enquiries, contact Jill on 07944 527 107 or [email protected]

Additional information

Kensington & Chelsea Mind

Kensington & Chelsea Social Council

To refer yourself to Community Living Well, take a look at our services and find something that works for you, then complete this online form, or speak to your GP and they can refer you.


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Uncategorised
Posted on: 1st April 2021

Why am I feeling so tired?

woman feeling tired sitting on the floor resting her head on the bed

If you are feeling tired and sluggish, and finding it hard to motivate yourself to work or keep active, you are not alone!

Last week, The Times highlighted a study published by UCL, which found that we have reached a state of peak demotivation. The UCL Covid-19 Social Study has been following 70,000 people over the past 44 weeks and found that, compared to the first lockdown, most are exercising less and spending less time on enjoyable activities.

In the article, a psychologist explained that this overwhelming feeling of fatigue is a normal reaction to abnormal circumstances.

What can I do about it?

We know we have given similar advice many times before, but following some of these steps may help you to feel better.

1 – Don’t be hard on yourself! As we mentioned earlier, you are not alone in feeling this way. Everyone is feeling the effects of the pandemic in some way or another, so be kind to yourself.

2 – Try to avoid day-dreaming about life before lockdown. Reminiscing about good times you were having before the pandemic can make you feel low in mood, which in turn will reduce your energy levels. Now that some lockdown restrictions are starting to ease, think of your recovery plan – what do you have to look forward to? Meeting up with friends and family, getting your hair cut, picnics in the park – lots to get excited about!

3 – Eat healthy and stay active – we’ve heard it time and time again, but eating junk food and taking no exercise can make us feel extremely tired. Try to limit the amount of comfort food and reset your eating habits. Now the weather is improving, take a daily walk around the block or in your local park.

4 – Put your work away! If you’re working from home, make sure you’re working within your usual working hours. This gives you a structure to your day and sets the boundary between work time and relaxation time.

Additional support

If you are struggling with low mood, anxiety or depression and you feel you need something to change, take a look at the Community Living Well services. Our wellbeing services offer a range of different programmes that may help, depending on your situation.

Find out more about how we can help.

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 16th March 2021

SMART St Mary Abbots Rehabilitation and Training