We welcome everyone back to our weekly in store tabletop events! While most of us are getting to experience a gradual return to normalcy with regulations being less strict, it’s important to remember that many of us are still struggling during this ongoing pandemic. This is especially the case for people with serious ongoing health issues who require long term care and hospitalisations.

We were contacted by Stephen Kelly from Leverndale Hospital’s Balloch Ward, which specialises in treatment and rehabilitation of patients with complex mental health needs who may require long term support or regular hospitalisations. With the impact of the pandemic compounding an already difficult situation for these patients and their loved ones, residents have been especially vulnerable with fewer opportunities to participate in the community.

The added strain to the mental health services, as with all NHS services in Scotland, has also led to ward staff struggling to provide effective care, leading to increased cases of burnout as well as a heightened risk of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is why service providers, like Kelly, are asking the community for support.

The Power of Geek Culture

For those who struggle with mental illness, it can be challenging to engage in enjoyable activities, which can lend itself to further isolation, even in the absence of a global pandemic. The added stigma attached to mental illness also makes it difficult for people to feel seen and valued by larger society, especially if your condition makes it difficult for you to work, get an education, or to manage basic needs. With the effects of austerity on our health and social services, patients, families and mental health professionals often feel that they are helpless and that the system has failed them.

This is why we decided to do our part by donating various games, gifts and geeky items for residents and staff to enjoy. While it’s by no means a fix to the systemic issues our healthcare system faces, we believe that the path to better wellbeing and a thriving community is through positive and enriching experiences that tap into the interests and passions that people love. As geek culture has historically been a refuge for those occupying the outskirts of mainstream society, we understand the power of geeky passions and how they help to create a sense of community and belonging in an otherwise hostile world.

Not only does it create some respite for the challenges people face in daily life, fandom spaces can be a venue to meet your people, foster your creativity, or discover other interests you would have never considered before. Love cosplay? You might decide to pursue a career as a fashion designer or a seamstress. Enjoy RPG’s? You may have a talent for creative writing! Love gaming? You could have what it takes to create interactive 3D models for use in medicine and forensics! That is the power of Geek culture!

Doing Our Part

It’s important to have positive social and creative activities to improve mental wellbeing, and this is especially the case for in-patients suffering with serious mental health conditions. From group activities like board games, to calming individual activities like arts and crafts or reading comics, we hope to make even a small improvement to the wellbeing of residents at the ward. Having a diverse range of activities to choose from can allow residents to be occupied with topics and hobbies that matter to

them and help them feel connected to the world. Having choices, even in recreational activities, can be extremely empowering for those who feel that they have little autonomy due to their circumstances. This also helps to create a more positive environment for loved ones during visiting hours, especially children, which in turn greatly improves treatment outcomes for residents.

For staff, having such activities can help create a happier work environment and to have moments of levity in such a high pressure job. Knowing that a service provider is a human with their own interests and hobbies can make life on the ward less frightening for patients, and lets professionals know that they are valued for what is undoubtedly an extremely difficult profession.

We have also donated 25 mystery boxes to the Balloch ward, which can be used by staff and residents as raffle prizes or as a gift for a young loved one visiting.

For residents who may have few opportunities to buy gifts for the people they love, we hope these mystery boxes will make family visits just a little more special. On top of that, the ward has also been given loads of geeky posters to brighten up the ward and make it feel less clinical and more home-like.

Being an in-patient in a clinical setting can be a frightening experience. For those in long term care the world may seem distant and unreachable, and your sense of self can be erroded with the constant reminder of your illness and limitations. We hope that our small contribution will give residents and staff a chance to nurture their interests and make life on the ward much better for everyone.

To Boldly Go…

We would like to thank the Stephen Kelly and the Balloch team for allowing us this opportunity to meet with the wonderful residents and staff and to contribute to enriching experiences for them to enjoy. We hope you all create wonderful memories and have lots of fun!

With that note, it’s vital to remember that many of our most vulnerable citizens have much fewer ways to participate in society, whether it’s due to illness, poverty, old age, institutional discrimination or even a global pandemic. There is still much work to be done to help people feel included in the community and we are eager to do our part for others who are still struggling during these uncertain times.

Ordinary people can make a huge and lasting impact on the lives of others. If you have a couple of spare hours and would like to help, you can offer to volunteer at Leverndale Hospital HERE. There are also many other NHS services across Scotland in need of volunteers. You can find a full directory of voluntary positions HERE.

Lastly, we are committed to helping community led projects across the city in any way we can. If you are involved in a community service or charitable organisation in Glasgow, we’d love to hear from you! If you contact us at greetings@geek-aboo.com with details about your project/organisation, we would love to do our part to help out!

Live long and prosper 🖖

If you need support…

If you or a loved one are struggling with a mental health issue, and would like someone to talk to, you can contact the following services for non-judgmental, compassionate support

  • NHS 24 Mental Health Hub on 111 – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87 – Weekdays: Monday – Thursday 6pm to 2am, Weekend: Friday 6pm – Monday 6am
  • Samaritans on 116 123 or email jo@Samaritans.org – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

For a more comprehensive list of services covering a much wider range of issues affecting mental health and wellbeing, The City of Glasgow College has created directory of services available to anyone in Glasgow and surrounding areas.