The Food and Mood Community Interest Company (formerly the Food and Mood Project) is a web-based, user-led company that provides dietary self-help resources for improving mental and emotional health.
This unique company provides a personal, friendly, and caring service for individuals, groups and organisations throughout the UK, and worldwide.
The Food and Mood CIC was founded in 1998 as a social enterprise, The Food and Mood Project, with a Millennium Award from Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity.
The company is led by Amanda Geary, MSc, and has developed from Amanda's former professional experience as nutritional therapist, and her personal recovery from ill health using dietary self-help.
Amanda is director of The Food and Mood Community Interest Company in partnership with Padraig Breatnach. Padraig is an experienced community mental health project worker and Person Centred counsellor.
Background to the Company
In 1997 the Mental Health Foundation in the UK published a ground-breaking report, Knowing Our Own Minds. This investigated personal self-help and coping strategies amongst users or survivors of mental health services. The report found that for some people the use of dietary changes and natural supplements provided symptom relief. Dietary and natural supplements had been used by 27 per cent of those surveyed and almost two-thirds (63 per cent) had found this self-help strategy to be helpful, or helpful at times.
In 1998 Jan Wallcraft authored Healing Minds also published by the Mental Health Foundation. This report covered current research, policy and practice concerning the use of complementary and alternative therapies for a wide range of mental health problems and contained an overview of dietary and nutritional treatments currently available.
In 1998 the Food and Mood Project is founded by Amanda Geary with a Millennium Award from Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity. The Project arose from Amanda's first-hand experience of recovery from ill health using a dietary self-help approach, as well as her professional expertise as (until 2003) a British Association of Nutritional Therapist's (BANT) registered practitioner.
The Project's focus is dietary self-help and its aim is "to empower individuals to explore the relationship between diet, nutrition and emotional and mental health, and to share this information with others".
Mind Millennium Awards are recognized as an “accolade rewarding imagination, aspiration, achievement” and were granted to enable activities that would not have otherwise been possible, which demonstrated a benefit to the community and which raised the profile of mental health.
The Food and Mood Project produces an evaluation of its workshop programme that showed nearly two-thirds of the Project's participants had been able to make changes to their diet or use nutritional supplements to benefit their emotional and mental health. A Project Report is written explaining the original six-session workshop programme. This is also published in the journal Positive Health. Reference: Geary, A. (2000) Food and Mood: a complementary treatment for mental health problems Positive Health 56: 30-33. Also in 2000, the Food and Mood Project publishes The Food and Mood Workbook (now superseded by The Food and Mood Handbook) as a record of the Project's first 18 months and containing contributions from Project participants.
Mind publishes the Mind Week Survey 2000, a survey of 550 people with mental health problems. It reports that 88% of those surveyed believe there is a link between physical and mental health and food is confirmed to be an important part of the body-mind relationship.
The Food and Mood Project and Mind work together to produce the Mind guide to Food and Mood, an introductory booklet written in question-and-answer format for the Mind guide series, and the Mind Meal is launched, receiving celebrity endorsement from Nigella Lawson.
Food and Mood is launched, the quarterly newsletter of The Food and Mood Project, containing articles, case studies, letters, research news, product information and book reviews.
The Project continues to receive wide coverage in national and local media including BBC and ITV television news, BBC Radio 4’s ‘Food Programme’ and many national and local newspapers and magazines. The Food and Mood website is created containing the free email Food and Mood support group.
Mind publishes Environmentally Friendly? Patients’ views of conditions on psychiatric wards. This survey found that 31 per cent of respondents had not had sufficient access to (hot or cold) drinks whilst in a psychiatric ward, although a common side effect of some psychiatric medication is a dry mouth. 45 per cent said they did not have enough access to food outside of meal times, although it is known some symptoms can increase the need for carbohydrates. Those who had special dietary requirements (54 per cent) did not have their dietary needs catered for whilst they were in hospital.
The Food and Mood Handbook is published by Thorsons. This is a comprehensive self-help guide to diet, nutritional and emotional and mental health written by the founder of The Food and Mood Project.
Mind publishes Roads to Recovery: how people with mental health problems recover and find ways of coping. This survey investigated recovery from mental illness and found that 62 per cent of those who felt recovered, or were coping, reported that ‘eating well’ had helped their recovery. This report included a recommendation for an increase in the availability of nutritional advice for those recovering from mental illness.
Mind launches the Mind model for choice in primary care. This document states that individuals suffering mental distress ‘should be involved in all decisions about their care and treatment’ and calls for complementary therapies to be ‘available as effective treatments for mental health problems’
The Food and Mood Project conducts an in-depth Food and Mood Survey and publishes the Food and Mood Self-help Report: a survey of dietary and nutritional self-help strategies used to improve emotional and mental health. See also: Geary, A. (2002) Food and Mood: An exploration of the application of nutritional and dietary approaches for improving mental and emotional health in adults in the Journal of Mental Health Promotion Issue no. 2 (June/July): 14-23 and Geary, A (2002) Helping Ourselves in Mental Health Today Dec/Jan 2002/03: 35-37.
The Food and Mood poster is published containing key recommendations from the Food and Mood Survey and designed to accompany the Food and Mood Handbook.
In conjunction with Pavilion, The Food and Mood Project co-hosts a national Food and Mood conference in London.
The DIY Food and Mood Workshop Pack is produced to provide step-by-step instruction and advice for individuals or groups wishing to run their own introductory workshop on diet, nutrition and emotional and mental health.
The popular Mind guide to Food and Mood is revised and updated.
Funding received from the UnLtd Millennium Awards Scheme to expand the range of dietary self-help materials available through www.foodandmood.org. (UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs, is the trustee of the Millennium Awards Trust, a £100-million grant of National Lottery funding endowed by the Millennium Commission.) New resources produced are the Try this postcards and Try this posters, and the Wall and Tree posters featuring blocks and solutions to healthy eating.
Two linked reports are published by Sustain and the Mental Health Foundation on the connection between diet and mental health. The Sustain publication is called Changing Diets, Changing Minds: how food affects mental well being and behaviour and is available at www.sustainweb.org. The Mental Health Foundation's report is called Feeding Minds: the impact of food on mental health and is available at: www.mentalhealth.org.uk. New resources produced are the Food and Mood poem booklet, the Food and Mood action plan dialler and Food and Mood Christmas card and poster.
Incorporation as the Food and Mood Community Interest Company.