We all know how nice it is to get a card or gift from a caring friend — not because it’s a birthday or special occasion, but just to say “I’m thinking of you” or “I’m here for you.” Self-described mental health warrior Polly Rogers has taken this concept one step further: the provision of “recovery bags” to people experiencing mental health difficulties.
Rogers founded The Recovery Bag Project following her own experiences of recovery during six years of mental health issues. She describes the project as “a hands-on, interactive strategy which aims to help people to take control of their crisis points by engaging in a range of activities to de-escalate the distress felt and better enable them to stay safe.”
So far, Rogers has sent over 300 recovery bags to people all over the U.K. Each bag costs around £15 to put together, plus postage, and includes items like colouring books, face masks, soft toys and sweets. Every bag also includes a motivational message, such as “I am strong enough” or “I deserve to be happy”.
Rogers is now fundraising to try to achieve her goal: sending 1,000 more recover bags to those who would benefit from them.
Anyone who has direct or indirect experience with mental illness will know that there is no quick fix. Even medication doesn’t work for everyone, and it can take years of experimenting with different treatments and therapies to work out what is most effective.
So what do the people for whom the recovery bags are created think of this project?
“I think this is a brilliant idea,” said Julie, 36, who has suffered from anxiety and depression for 10 years. “One of my friends actually did something similar for me when I was going through a really difficult time. She left a box at my front door filled with books, DVDs, chocolates and bubble bath. It really helped to know that someone in my life cared enough to reach out in that way, particularly when so many people still don’t understand or appreciate the extent of mental illness.”
Donna, 28, agreed: “A bag of goodies won’t get rid of someone’s depression, but it does say to that person, ‘Someone is thinking about you and wants to ease your suffering.’ Anything that raises awareness of mental illness and helps to improve the lives of those going through tough times is a good thing.”
For more information, visit The Recovery Bag Project GoFundMe page.