A WOMEN’S group has received a National Lottery funding boost to provide mental health and wellbeing support.

To mark World Mental Health Day, the National Lottery Community Fund has highlighted the positive impact of charities and community groups in Essex.

This year’s theme was Mental Health in an Unequal World.

Colchester-based Bangladeshi Women’s Association Essex has received almost £10,000 from the fund to provide mental health and wellbeing support to women from the Bangladeshi community.

It’s one of almost 130 mental health and wellbeing projects in Essex to receive a share of more than £9million of National Lottery funding since the start of the first lockdown in March last year.

The association focuses its support on women negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic, addressing challenges, such as language barriers, cultural isolation and stigma in the community relating to mental health problems.

Salma Ahmed, director at the association, said: “Bangladeshi women have particularly suffered in isolation and that has been exasperated by recent Covid.

“This is to do with culture, with mental illness neither understood nor recognised as an illness in many parts of the community.

“It’s a taboo subject and looked at as a weakness, leaving many to seek religious help as their only recourse.

“However, the pandemic has encouraged more people to talk about mental health.

“Women are now coming forward and talking about it and admitting slowly that it’s a problem that needs to be tackled urgently.”

The charity also runs an allotment project, exercise classes and a community volunteer programme all geared towards building confidence and empowering women to deal with problems they may be facing.

Salma added: “A huge thank you to the National Lottery Community Fund and all the National Lottery players.

“This grant will enable us to deal with mental health issues in our communities through training, awareness raising and challenging the stigma that holds people back from confronting mental illness. We want our community to talk about mental health, understand the issue and seek help.”