An innovative Wellbeing Retreat service piloted in the centre of Bridgend is providing a safe, non-clinical environment for those experiencing mental health problems and distress.

Since opening just before Christmas, the out of hours service has received well over 100 referrals across the area, and provides a homely non-clinical environment which is safe, welcoming, calm and relaxed to support those with mental health problems who are experiencing social distress and providing a less formal, early intervention.

The pilot service is provided by Mental Health Matters Wales and is delivered as part of a collaboration with Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB, Bridgend County Borough Council, South Wales Police and other third sector service providers.

The Retreat operates as an adult (18+) service supporting people who are experiencing social distress, for example; anxiety, depression, loneliness, isolation, domestic, family, relationship issues, carer’s responsibilities, stresses and other issues which may also be affecting their mental health and mental wellbeing.

Access to the Retreat is by appointment only through a referral process via professional health, social services or social care staff from statutory services.

The Retreat is open four days each week between the hours of 5pm and 11pm. For those who find it difficult to attend due to their distress, location or financial issues a taxi service is provided free of charge. This helps to ensure safety and to remove a possible barrier to attendance.

Robert Goodwin, Service Group Manager for Mental Health in Bridgend said: “This is a wonderful scheme which delivers what our local communities have been asking for. The support provided by the Retreat is unique in the area, providing help to people at times when traditional health and social care support is not as easily available. The staff offer non-clinical support using community-based and socially-inclusive approaches to dealing with people’s anxieties. It is great that the service has been there for people during the pandemic.”

Michaela Moore from Mental Health Matters said: “We support individuals to make connections with other mental health and community groups. This can help people with their recovery. We are delighted to be involved in this positive service supporting those in need. Particularly those suffering with social distress and isolation in these difficult times. We provide one-to-one support and meaningful activities in a friendly person centred way.”

The Retreat is the first pilot of its kind within the Cwm Taf Morgannwg area, providing an integrated model of care and is now being proposed to continue as a fundamental part of an extended network of mental health services within the Bridgend County Borough.

Feedback from those either attending the Retreat or having telephone contact has been overwhelmingly positive.

Community support at new Wellbeing Retreat