One year on and Lochaber Mindfit is going strong

Marking the first anniversary of Mindfit outside their Inverlochy meeting place (left - right) Alan Smillie, Carmen Beale, Andrew Carvill, Susan Archibald, John Thomson and Becky McCook. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, NO F31 MINDFIT BIRTHDAY 01

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Members of a peer support group for both men and women dealing with mental health issues have been sharing their experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lochaber MindFit is nearing its first birthday and, since August 5, 2019, has had 50/60 brave members of the community walk through its doors in search of support.

After four months of meetings starting the group had to relocate from CrossFit Ben Nevis to a larger premises as numbers were increasing quickly. Now based at The Braxi Hall, Inverlochy, the group holds meetings for men (Mondays 7-9pm) and women (Tuesday 7-9pm) when relaxed chat is the order of the day.

During lockdown the group has adapted and have been using zoom as a way to communicate but are looking forward now to meeting up once more.

One group member commented: ‘I know that I have struggled lately with my own mental health for a variety of reasons.

‘I confided in a couple of friends  but they were not sure how to help so it was nice to find like-minded people even if I am only able to engage virtually via social media at the moment.

‘Just knowing that maybe there are others there feeling the ups and downs as well is of comfort. Struggling alone is not something anyone should do.’

Another added: ‘I came to the group as my anxiety spiralled while on furlough during lockdown.

‘As I don’t know anyone in the area it was really hard to know who to turn to and what to do. These lovely ladies have welcomed me, given me someone to talk to and made me feel like I’m not alone anymore.’

Another member who has been with the group from the start said: ‘To be able to walk into a room and speak in front of a group of people who gave me a warm welcome and didn’t judge me, and who are going through the same mental health issues, gave me the confidence to start moving forward.

‘Sometimes it’s one step forward and two back, but I am reassured that by being part of the MindFit group, I will always have somewhere to turn and know I will be understood and supported.’

Lochaber MindFit chairperson/facilitator Susan Archibald said: ‘As you can see from these quotes our service is vital to our amazing community and we feel very humbled that we can offer this much-needed support.

‘We are extremely excited to get back to face-to-face meeting very soon. During this time it has been very beneficial for those who do not like online meetings to use our private Facebook pages where they can share how they are feeling and gain some support from not only the facilitators but also other members of the groups.’

The group has also received amazing support from local businesses and organisations, including Lochaber Hope, Martyn’s Monday Club, Ferguson’s Transport, FortWilliam Massage Therapy, Tradewinds Darts Group, Glensanda Quarry as well as members of the public throughout the year.

‘Without their donations our meetings would not be possible,’ said Susan.

‘We solely rely on donations at the moment but we hope to register as a charity in the near future where we may be able to access more funding and can continue to expand our groups.’

Email or visit or follow the Facebook pages Lochaber MindFit-mens group or Lochaber MindFit-women’s group for more information.