The MOOD Project (Mental Health Options for Older People with Depression) in West Lothian has been awarded £1,700 by Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) to enhance its wellbeing services.

MOOD promotes positive mental health to those aged over 45 either experiencing depression and anxiety, or at risk from suffering poor mental health. It offers tailored courses, weekly groups, buddy support and social activities tailored to meet the needs of either self or health professional-referred individuals.

In the last year, MOOD has delivered services to about 100 people and supported its volunteers, a number of whom are previous service users.

Approximately 20 per cent of Breich Valley residents suffer from some form of poor mental health which is usually treated with drugs. The positive impact of outdoor activities, even for short periods, on mental health is widely beneficial for all conditions, and current MOOD participants have recently enjoyed activities in the community garden to improve their wellbeing.

MOOD has planned two 10 week Outdoor Woodland Courses for a maximum of 10 participants on each course. The programme consists of outdoor activities within Stoneheap Wood and participants  will be able to enter for the John Muir Award.

CRT was set-up in 1999 and is funded by the Scottish Government to support local initiatives to improve health and employment prospects for residents of former mining communities.

Commenting on the funding awarded to MOOD, Coalfields Regeneration Trust trustee Nicky Wilson said: “The sessions will provide an opportunity for older members of the community to enjoy outdoor activities, learn new skills and achieve recognition through a John Muir Trust Discovery Award. The accredited course will comprise of orientation, wildlife, conservation, exploring and sharing elements.

“The project will encourage development of new skills and instil additional confidence in participants, as well as aim to reduce drug dependency and social isolation in older people.”

Lorraine Jarvie , volunteer and service co-ordinator at MOOD, added: “This is an excellent opportunity for people experiencing anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions to get involved in an amazing course with so many added benefits for their health and wellbeing. The support from Coalfields Regeneration Trust with this funding has made a big difference to the service we can offer. We are delighted to be working with Stoneheap Wood who have provided us with this fantastic course.”

Image shows: Project manager Alan Cunningham (centre) with staff members.