Keep calm and have a sensory kit

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Stimulating your senses may be a way to calm Covid-19 anxiety for people in the Upper Clutha.

Wanaka Mental Health Peer Support Group organiser Vicki Wise, of Albert Town, has put together 50 sensory modulation kits to be given away locally.

“The basis is using your senses to change your state of emotion, your state of mind.”

The kits help people who are isolated or at risk of mental degradation, she said.

“You can look at things that are comforting if you need to be comforted, or if you need something to wake you up you can look at things that are alerting.”

Each kit had a range of objects including a soft toy, fluffy balls, a colouring-in book and coloured pencils, a journal, flavoured teas, an aromatherapy diffuser, pictures of New Zealand landscapes and an MP3 player with guided meditations and birdsong.

The kits also had a guide to sensory modulation and contact information for mental health support.

People could also create kits using items in their home, almost like a first-aid kit for the mind, she said.

“I find things all over the place that I pick up, and I have got an old briefcase full of sensory modulation stuff.”

The kits were funded by a grant of about $5000 from the Otago Mental Health Support Trust.

Manager Grant Cooper said the grant was part of a fund the trust had been given by the Ministry of Social Development specifically related to challenges bought on by the Covid-19 pandemic to support people’s mental health and wellbeing.

The aim was to find ways to help support people who were feeling isolated and stressed at this time, he said.

It was a “short term response”, but if it could help someone initially with anxiety, it might mean they were able to reach out for more help and support, Mr Cooper said.

The kits will be given away through the peer support group and other local community groups.