Mind breaking the silence with 'Goals Worth Talking About'

Have you heard about the new initiative that MIND (Mental Health Charity) has launched with the English Football League (EFL)?

On the back of World Mental Health Day 2019 last week with the focus on suicide awareness, they launched ‘Goals Worth Talking About’. The campaign worked alongside football in the knowledge that football is often an area of common ground and a great place to encourage men, in particular, to talk to each other.

“Football fans at a number of EFL Clubs across the country have voted for their club’s most iconic EFL moment; each of which is set to be immortalised as street art in their respective cities.

The murals will appear around the country with the aim of highlighting how football is often a conversation starter and the importance of talking when it comes to mental health support.

The aim is to improve the nation’s mental health and wellbeing and the approach to mental health in football.”

Paul Farmer Chief Executive of Mind said,

“We know that football and emotion go hand in hand. Football has the power to bring about real change. We hope that by harnessing the passion and emotion fans have about their clubs’ most significant goal through these fantastic pieces of street art, we can encourage more people to start up conversations about their emotions and ultimately their mental health too.”

What a great initiative and let’s hope this really gets men talking about their feelings and mental health and we can start to decrease the worrying suicide statistics.

It’s worth talking about!

World Mental Health Day 10th October 2019. Sleep and our mental health, they are very much connected.

As adults we should sleep 7-8 hours. Far too many of us don’t. Why is that? What affects your sleep? Can something be done about it?

The affect lack of sleep has on our overall wellbeing is immense. Focus at work or school becomes harder, risk of injuries increase and we can risk other peoples lives by becoming dangerous drivers. We jeopardise our health as risks for heart disease, obesity and diabetes increase. Our sex drive is also affected which in turn can affect our relationship with our partner.

The list goes on…

 So what can be done?

 We all know about routines, what is stopping some of us creating one? There are lots of tips on-line ex:

·      Relax in any way you can before going to bed. Ex. Bath, visualisation, deep, conscious breathing.

·      A good bed and pillows are worth investing in! Comfort is essential.

·      Tech-free time. Yes, turn off those screens at least an hour before bed time! Our brains need the rest.

·      Exercise, exercise and exercise. No time to do it? Prioritise it! If there is a will, there is a way!

·      Sometimes the cause is physical, seek medical advice.

·      Caffeine and alcohol are not the best to drink before bed time. Be aware of the amount drunk and when. Then change it!

 Other ideas are things like putting lavender oil on the pillow and using silk pillow cases and eye masks. My daughters swear by it!

 Journaling at the end of the day is something really good for our general wellbeing in either case. By writing in a nice note book, all the things going on in our heads, we help our minds and improve mental clarity to enable solving problems and overall focus.

 By sharing our thoughts on paper we can also become clearer in what we need to do, what is actually working or not. It’s a dialogue with ourselves that no one else is part of. 

 Taking care of our minds should be a priority for us all. How else can we be the best version of ourselves?!








Mental Health First Aid - what is it?

As we open up the discussions around mental health. more and more people are being trained to become Mental Health First Aiders.

What is a Mental Health First Aider?

It all started on a dog walk in Australia in 2000 when a nurse, teacher and counsellor called Betty Kitchener and her husband Tony Jorm (Professor at the University of Melbourne in mental disorders) came up with the idea together. They wanted to complement the physical first aid model and allow people to gain skills and knowledge to assist with mental health first aid to drive support into the community.

In 2007 MHFA launched in the UK through the Department of Health as part of a national approach to improve public mental health. There are now approximately 10 000 new first aiders trained each month in the UK and over 3 million trained in over 25 countries worldwide.

Why Train?

It gives you understanding, skills and a tool kit to be able to approach and listen to someone who is experiencing mental health concerns, understand how to give support and signpost them to both professional and personal help.

It’s a full 2 days of training that provides you with a wealth of knowledge, materials and resources to support yourself, those you love and others in the wider community or in your place of work.

Mental Health starts with you!

It’s never too late to learn, grow and gain new skills.

If you would like to find out how to train people in your organisation or community please get in touch: jenni@familyfocusuk.com 01737-224602

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Connection and mental health

I just saw a lovely video online where a woman comes home and on the way, everyone she encounters are busy on their phones. No interaction takes place even in the lift going to her flat.

She then proceeds to bring her kitchen table into the communal hallway and sits down with her daughter to eat. Other neighbours arrive home and join in. Suddenly there is a big group and lots of talk and fun.

Here is the link: https://youtu.be/vDuA9OPyp6I

Wouldn’t it be good to do something like that more often? Joining in with others for impromptu meals and gatherings. Someone just have start and others will follow.

We have a few gatherings on our road every year and it is such a lovely way to get to know the neighbours. There is a street party every summer, a children’s play day in the autumn, a ladies night, Safari supper and other things through out the year. A great way to be connected to others nearby.

There are many people that are lonely around us. This is a problem in big and small communities and it affects our mental health in a detrimental way. We all need connection and feel a belonging whether it’s with neighbours, friends, work colleagues or clubs.

What can we do to be more present and create connection when and if needed? Are there people around us that are longing to belong?

Have a look around you and see what you can do. It all helps.


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National Suicide Prevention Day...10 September 2019

Today we are focusing on the worrying rates of suicides in the UK - and worldwide. In the UK 75% of suicides are by men with the age group 40 - 49 at the highest risk. Alarmingly the under 25 age group numbers of suicides has increased by 23.7% in the last year and overall suicides are up by 11.8%. Looking at statistics globally, the World Health Organisation figures show one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds.

6507 suicides were recorded in the UK in 2018 - more than road accidents and wars and we fear this number is probably higher due to the subjectivity in the law around the recording of the cause of death.

It’s extremely worrying and becoming far too prevalent.

Last week, during a delivery of a Mental Health First Aid course, I was speaking to a participant who shared that 3 friends had died by suicide in the last year. All under the age of 25.

It’s real and happening and we have to do something about it.

So what can you do? How can you help with ‘prevention of suicide’?

The most important things you can do are:

Notice other people. Don’t let things slide by. If you notice changes in behaviour or mood or appearances - ask that person how they are feeling. And ask with care, interest and purpose.

Connect with others. People who are considering suicide often feel isolated, alone and desperate. They feel overwhelmed with their thoughts, feelings, troubles and feel that they have ‘no way out’. By connecting with them (which simply means being present and focusing on them) they will not be alone and this may make a huge difference.

Listen to them. Don’t try and fix their problems, or tell them about how you’ve had similar worries, Just listen to them. Be there for them and show genuine care and support.

Encourage them to get support and professional help. There are so many organisations that offer fantastic services and support - a few are listed below:

Samaritans: for everyone  Call 116 123  Email jo@samaritans.org www.samaritians.org

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM): for men Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight daily

Papyrus: Prevention of Young Suicide) under 35 Call 0800 068 41 41 – Mon to Fri 10am to 10pm, weekends 2pm to 10pm, bank holidays 2pm to 5pm  Text 07786 209697 Email pat@papyrus-uk.org

Childline:  for children and young people under 19 Call 0800 1111  www.childline.org.uk

The Silver Line:  for older people Call 0800 4 70 80 90

CALM: (Campaign Against Living Miserably)  0800 58 58 58 www.thecalmzone.net 

The Mix:  Under 25’s  freephone 0808 808 4994 (1 – 11pm) www.themix.org.uk

YoungMinds: Crisis Messenger free, 24/7 mental health crisis support text YM to 85258

And take care of yourself too!


Weak ties or acquaintances, they are all important!

I read an interesting article recently where they talked about the ‘weak ties’ in our lives. I had never heard that expression before. A weak tie is basically acquaintances or contacts we might have met or spoken to for whatever reason, but don’t really know. Think business contacts, LinkedIn contacts, choir members, fitness club members, pub regulars etc. They can also be old friends that we lost touch with apart from that Christmas card every year.

A strong tie is what is says, someone you are close to and know well. Family or friends that care about you and you care about them.

These weak links connect us with other people indirectly or directly. When we isolate ourselves by just socialising and meeting the same group of friends all the time, we miss out on new experiences and knowledge that different people can share with us.

Diversity and change is good in life. Pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones might be scary but it generally pays off!

By chatting to other people and being friendly, we also become happier people as one of our human needs is connection. It feels good to be greeted by my name in the coffee shop or newsagent or bumping in to neighbours on the road. We all need to be seen as a human being.

How do you connect with people? Are you friendly with your neighbours? The newsagent? The butcher or greengrocer? Other parents at your kids school?

All these connections matter to our wellbeing. They can also be very useful for our professional lives.

Weak ties might bring us new information about job opportunities or new connections into other vital areas of our business. The relationship with our weak ties needs to be maintained, bringing our networks together to enable information between the different parts of our networks. This information can become the information we need to advance in our own work, or it might be recommendations and information to get us the job opportunity we've been looking for.

Maintenance is a big part of all of this. Remembering and acknowledging people we meet is one thing. Welcoming and friendly no matter what kind of day we are having is another. It’s how we make other people feel that they will remember!

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Senior Leaders challenge...

We are thrilled to support the minds@work movement - ‘a movement for mental wellbeing in the workplace’. They have just released an appeal for ‘senior leader at Board level who is ready to inspire others with their story of recovery from mental illness’. This supports the notion that in order for things to happen or to change, it needs to be led from the top. http://www.mindsatworkmovement.com/

We have the utmost respect for Rob Stephenson who has initiated the leaderboard through his platform InsideOut. They are a social movement that is getting a lot of momentum. They task ‘senior leaders to share their stories so that employees feel more comfortable in also speaking about mental ill-health’ https://inside-out.org/leaderboard/

More and more organisations are prioritising mental health as it is the leading cause of absenteeism and presenteeism in the workplace. The Centre for Mental Health states that mental health problems cost UK workforces almost £35 billion last year. It’s no longer something that can be ignored and putting wellbeing and mental health firmly on your organisations agenda is a must.

A good starting point is to train Mental Health First Aiders and Champions who can lead the culture change in your organisations. As mentioned above, the best possible route is for senior leaders to step forward to support this plan and to ensure that some senior leaders and line managers receive training. In addition, it’s a great idea to run a Mental Health Awareness session for all employees so that your entire organisation is on the same page at the same time and the buy-in from the top filters down with the same message for all.

If you’re not sure what to do to start this process, give us call. We can do a needs analysis for your organisation as well as provide you with a variety of training options to cover both mental health and wellbeing. Or perhaps you’d like to start with training Mental Health First Aiders or organising a refresher and supervision session for those already qualified?

There are 2 important dates coming up:  Suicide Prevention Day on the 10th September and World Mental Health Day 10 October. It would be great to launch a training plan to coincide with these events.

Either way, we’re here to help so give us call to see how we can support you and your organisation.

http://www.familyfocusuk.com/ 07720-591857 (Åse) 07733-434143 (Jenni)

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Teenagers and summer parties....?

It’s the summer - school’s out and parties reign. If you are the parent of teenagers you may be faced with the questions, worries and challenges of allowing your teenagers the freedom to socialise and gain independence, whilst keeping their safety as a top priority.

I read a really heartbreaking post on facebook last week about a dad who’s lost his 19 year old son to a ‘bad’ pill that he took at a concert (https://www.facebook.com/scott.c.maney) . This was the last thing he’d expected as he had no idea his son would participate in recreational drugs. This leads to the question of how we protect our children from negative influences, the unsuspecting spiking of drinks, the peer pressure. It’s a challenge all parents face - but particularly those with teenagers.

We believe that the skills to navigate teenager years starts a lot earlier. By building blocks of communication, values and beliefs that are embedded in your family and your child from their early years. The rules of thumb of kindness, consistency, consequences and communication. Use these well and wisely throughout childhood and you’ll have a head start on the teenage years.

We love the teachings of Maggie Dent and she speaks in this vlog about how important a teenagers’ temperament is in their navigating the stressors of teenage years:-


On a more practical note here are some tips as your teens head out to parties:-

  1. Make sure you and they have the address of where they are going on their phone and on their body.

  2. Have a ‘safe word’ that they can text you or say for to collect them so that they can save face with their peer group

  3. Make sure they have money for a cab or the uber app on their phone set up

  4. Discuss how to keep safe with them before they leave (keeping the focus on your love and care of them - not ‘rules’) Be sure to mention opening drinks themselves and not accepting anything from strangers.

  5. Talk to other parents and make sure you’re all on the same page about pick up times etc

  6. If they are going to drink alcohol, buy it yourself and have them take it along with them to be sure of what they’re drinking!

  7. Try and download an app that lets you track them eg Life360

  8. Talk talk talk - and be there for your teen

We are here to help. We run workshops that are specifically for parents of teens and how to cope with the stressors of having teenagers - plus how to help your teens cope with their stress and mental health worries! Contact us to find out more.

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Should all Workplaces have a Mental Health First Aider?

Åse and I are now offering Mental Health First Aid Training and we have had some interesting discussions lately with potential clients about the ‘need’ for a MHFAider and the role that this individual should have in an organisation.

MHFA England is working hard to de-stigmatise mental health in the UK by encouraging workplaces and individuals to engage in mental health first aid training. Their hope is to raise awareness of mental health issues as well as improve the literacy levels of everyone around mental health topics while boosting confidence to both recognise and respond to concerns.

MHFA England’s website promotes:-

Two Day - Mental Health First Aiders

A practical skills and awareness course designed to give you: −

  • A deeper understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect people’s wellbeing, including your own

  • Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues

  • Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress

  • Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgmental listening

  • Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to appropriate support”

Some people are arguing that a simple 2 day training course is not enough. We tend to agree. We feel that there needs to be built in support (similar to counselling supervision) for all participants who qualify as Mental Health First Aiders. To allow them to keep up to date with recent trends and news in the mental health world, as well as have a support group and mentoring system to offload concerns or get advice about situations they encounter.

Luckily, most of the clients we speak to agree, and we’re able to support them through both the training and supervision/mentoring process.

Just as having a medical ‘First Aider’ is compulsory for companies, there are calls for mental health first aid to be part of legislature. At present, this is in discussion but is not mandatory:-

“The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have enhanced its First Aid guidance to help employers understand the existing need to consider mental health alongside physical health when undertaking their ‘needs assessment’. There has, however, been no legal change to make mental health first aid-type training mandatory.”

For us, any forward motion is good news and a great place to begin is just starting to talk about mental health and if having a first aider will work for your workplace.

So give us a call if you want to find out more about what’s involved. Lots of Companies are getting on board - how about you?


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Mental ill health in the workplace. How is it handled at your place of work?

It is great to read about the steps a lot of companies are taking towards supporting their staff with mental ill health. Any step is better than nothing, however, one week a year doesn’t do it. So many companies have their wellbeing week and that is it. What about the support the rest of the year?

The stigma surrounding mental ill health is still prevalent in the majority of companies. According to the research, employees struggling with mental health or other wellbeing issues are unable to concentrate on their job, a symptom known as “presenteeism,” for more than a third of the total scheduled work time (54.95 hours). This adds up to about eight total days per month, and more than twice as much as the typical “healthy” employee. These employees are also absent from work for an average of 7.36 hours per month – almost one full working day and about 5% of all work time.

An employee would rather talk about their stomach bug and their effects than mental health issues!!

To enable communication between managers and staff is vital, in many cases, a matter of life or death.

Thriving at work – a major report on mental health and employers, commissioned by Prime Minister Theresa May – quantifies the impact of mental ill health in the workplace. Poor mental health costs employers between £33bn and £42bn a year. This is in addition to an estimated £37bn to £52bn cost to the economy in lost output and £25bn cost to the government due to reduced tax intake, NHS treatment costs and poor health-related welfare payments.

Placing wellbeing at the core of your HR strategy is the first step to building a mentally healthy workplace. The following checklist can help you and your business to achieve this.

Workplace culture – Build an environment that is open, transparent and empathetic by allowing for flexible working, social outings and more. Openly acknowledge key resources out there such as those from charities including Mind, Rethink and Anxiety UK.

Role modelling – Normalise mental health issues by sharing personal stories, preferably from the top.

Work/life balance – Establish and enforce boundaries at work so your employees know that after work hours are theirs to unwind and disconnect from the daily grind.

Physical wellbeing – Whether by setting up cycle to work schemes in place or something as simple as a running club or meditation hour, try to introduce physical activities as part of your company’s work life. This will give your team the option to incorporate physical well-being into their lives as well.

Peer support and mentoring – It can be hard to open up to colleagues (or worse—your boss!), so by introducing peer counselling you could set the scene for your employees to connect with colleagues in a way that gives them permission to open up and connect over shared experiences. Mentoring programmes where senior members of staff take juniors under their wing could also help create rapport and start a dialogue where they can be their authentic selves at work.

Build strong communications platforms – Internal communication isn’t just a large company’s game. Even when running a startup you can keep the lines of communication open and transparent. Whether it’s through messaging channels like Slack or a weekly meeting, keep everyone on your team in the loop about major work changes to ease their transition. It’s also a great opportunity to praise employees and give kudos when deserved.

Monitor absences – Absences can be a dead giveaway that things may not be smooth sailing for your employees. If an employee is absent or late frequently, it should raise questions about their wellbeing. This could present the opportunity to start an open dialogue about what’s not working for them at work.

Seek employee feedback – Adopt frequent wellbeing checks through formal surveys or informal one-to-one meetings to keep the channel of communication open both ways. Using the data you gather can help you understand where your wellbeing strategy may have gaps from the perspective of your employees.

Review all of your policies at least once a year – Using feedback and monitoring progress of particularly vulnerable employees can help you stay accountable and reinforce your company’

Family Focus UK provide Mental Health awareness workshops and Mental Health First Aid courses amongst other topics. To find out more please go to:


For the full article which was published in Business Advice, please click here:


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The 'controversy' of Cannabis?

I came across a link on facebook that had created a lot of controversy (going by the conflicting comments posted). It headlined ‘Cannabis gives teenagers ‘brain damage’ and loss of self-control, study finds’.

“...the adolescent brain may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of substance use, particularly cannabis” Dr Marilyn Cyr

Dr Cyr is the lead researcher from Columbia University in the US. She showed that there was a direct link between adult substance use and problems with drugs and alcohol in adolescence.

This gave me pause for thought as in our mental health work we know that there is a link between drugs (particularly depressants), dependency and mental health concerns. We also know that the teenage brain is a ‘work in progress’ and really susceptible to influences (physical and cognitive). Teenage neural pathways are a hive of activity and development with the frontal cortex only fully developing by the age of 25. This means that teenagers are particularly vulnerable to substance use and by using it ‘recreationally’ in this developmental stage, they may in fact be paving the way for problems later on in life. They are, in effect, ‘wiring’ their brains during development towards this path.

Cannabis is the most widely used recreational drug among teenagers world-wide with vaping growing at an alarming rate. This research is a big step towards directing early interventions that will help manage addictive behaviours.

So what are ‘early interventions’ and what are their goals?

  • To reduce potential harms and risky behaviours

  • To prevent the behaviour developing into a disorder

  • To provide information about substance use risks

  • To provide information about normal and safe levels of use

  • To provide information on how to quit or cut down on the use

  • To be a bridge between prevention and actually receiving treatment

  • Could be informal counselling and help with decision making

So we have to ask, could we reduce the numbers of drug and alcohol dependent adults (and by default the presenting mental health issues) if we reduce the use of these substances among teenagers?

Whose responsibility is this? Parents? Schools? Government? NHS?

In our line of work we always come back to the premise that ‘knowledge and awareness is key’. The more information you have about behaviours, choices, cognitive development and life - the better equipped you’ll be to cope with situations and challenges. This is what we work through in our workshops and deliveries to organisations, employees and parents.

For those who argue that Cannabis has value - are you referring to medicinal cannabis use or recreational use? I expect it’s a continuing debate!


Summer and depression

The summer is upon us and it can be lovely, but not for everyone.
Summer is a time where depression and other mental health problems are common. Despite the weather being nicer and seeing people outdoors, this time of the year is tough for many. Being on your own and feeling lonely is even more obvious when seeing all the 'happy' people out and about. Posts on social media from 'amazing' holidays and times with friends and family are on show more than ever. Body image can also be a big issue. The thought of showing your body in summer clothes might be horrifying. The ‘what if someone comments and doesn’t like me’ feelings set in.

Feeling low affects everything around us. Something we normally cope with becomes a huge issue. So what can we do to help ourselves?

  • We are all entitled to wear what we like and do what we are comfortable with. Say no and stand tall. It’s OK.

  • We have choices about how to structure our days so make sure it is what suits you, not everyone else. If we know our triggers, try to avoid them.

  • If summer holidays aren’t your thing, don’t go. Choose another time of the year. Some work mates will appreciate it!

  • Most people are too busy thinking about themselves and their lives to notice someone elses' discomfort or how they look. It is more probable that we are caught in a negative thinking pattern which seems real but might not be reality.

  • If these feelings have a big impact on life and are regular, ask for help. Therapy is there to assist and improve our lives. Don’t hesitate, it does work for a lot of people.

Be aware of others and their feelings and above all, be inclusive! Loneliness is a tough situation. If we can make a difference to someone, whether at work for lunch or after work drinks, inviting a neighbour, make that call you meant to do or send a text shows that you are thinking of them. The simplest things can make someone feel like they too are important. Kindness is one of them.

And, remember the sunscreen!!


Suicide...such a hard word.

I have had several incidents of suicide cross my path in the last few weeks and it has really brought home how alarming and devastating the effects of suicide are.

The latest figures from MHFA England suggest that over 15 people a day took their lives by suicide in 2016 (Road accidents death is just over 4 people/day). 3/4 of completed suicides are by men with the highest risk group age 40 - 49. But there is very little research about the effects on those left behind. The feelings and thoughts that they will live with on a daily basis. Suicide affects so many people.

I always have a saying that ‘if you know what you have to deal with, and for how long, you can cope with anything’. With suicide, it’s the unknown that eats away at you and leaves you with unresolved issues. When someone you love or know attempts or completes suicide it will affect you in profound ways. Some people will react with an extreme response to the trauma, some will withdrawn, others will act out and engage in risky behaviours. Still others will be left with feelings of guilt and blame and questions that will never be answered. It’s an untenable situation and one that no-one ever wants to be faced with.

So, with such a sensitive topic the guiding principles are: be aware. Take notice. Act and intervene if you are concerned. If you feel there is a risk of suicide - do something. Approach that person, ask them what their intentions are (it has been proven that asking someone if they have a plan for suicide does not encourage or accelerate their action to complete suicide). If you feel they are at risk, get them help. Call for professionals, get them to the GP or A & E, call the mental health crisis team, or CALM or The Samaritans.

If we all start to really notice each other and show care and concern, we can bring this shocking statistic down and save not only the lives on those who are considering suicide, but also the circles of friends, families, colleagues and others around them.

There is lots we can do to help. Start by reading more about the work the Samaritans are doing:


Appreciate those in your life and make sure they feel this appreciation. And above all…

Take care.


How does social media affect our wellbeing?

I’ve been thinking about the impact social media has on our wellbeing. It is up and down for a lot of people. A kind of love or hate relationship.

Depending on how you are feeling that time you look on FB or Instagram, what you are reading and seeing can set you up for the day. The tendencies seem to be that the majority of posts are about how great life is, which can be really uplifting and inspiring if you are in that mindset.

However, if you are a bit low and things aren’t going as well as you’d like in your own life, reading about others ‘perfect’ lives can be depressing and sometimes hurtful. Seeing photos from an event or gathering with lots of your friends and you were not included can be one of those hurtful moments.

The lives of our online friends can seem so different and more exciting and successful than ours. But are they really? What goes on behind those facades?

There has been a lot in the news about suicides amongst not only youngsters but also adults. Has this digital world got anything to do with this increase in deaths?

So how do we live with this phenomena? How can we handle our social media without allowing it to get us down?

I think self-esteem plays a big part. If our self-esteem is high, we can handle situations and rationalise feelings much better. We are able to push those thoughts aside and see that what is presented is not always what it seems. Also, even if it is amazing, we can be happy for those involved and not jealous.

Envy is fine, we all would like some things we don’t have but that is OK, this is life. Kids today need to learn from an early age that life is not always fair, it can’t be the same for everyone. Study, work and do your best to create the life you want to live.

So, here are a few tips on increasing our self-esteem:

  • Write a gratitude diary every night. I know it sounds funny but it is all part of feeding our brains with positivity.

  • Challenge any negative thoughts that pop in to your head. “Is this really true?”

  • Use mantras. “I can do this” , “I am a good person”, “ I am worthy”, yet again, feeding our brains with positive words has a great impact.

  • Exercise! Release those endorphins!

  • Get out, go into nature and be present! The feeling of being out and breathing fresh air is unbeatable.

  • Sleep. Give yourself and your body a chance to recover and recharge.

Enjoy your life, never mind what others do!!


It's all in the numbers...Men's Health Numbers!

It’s ‘Men’s Health Week’ this week (10 - 16 June) and the focus is on ‘numbers’!

The theme this year focuses on the fact that men (as a generalisation) seem to like (the campaign uses the word ‘obsessed’) numbers!

So they want to raise awareness of some critical numbers.

  • 7 ‘must know’ numbers for all men

  • 5 ‘statistics’ that we all need to be aware of

Key numbers for men:

  • 37 If your waist size is 37 “ or more, you’re at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes & cancer

  • 150 Try and do 150 mins of some physical activity each week

  • 5 That’s your ‘five a day’ fruit and veg goal

  • 14 No more than 14 units of alcohol a week spread over several days

  • 10 Years off your life if you smoke (average)

  • 120/80 normal blood pressure

  • 75 % (3 out of 4) suicides are by men

For those of us wanting to help (Family Focus UK included!)…think about the facts that:

  • 1 man in 5 dies before the age of 65

  • 2 men in 5 die before the age of 75

  • Unskilled working men are 3 times more likely to take their own lives than those in senior management

For men wanting some more information, there’s something called man MOT to challenge you and check your own health: https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/man-mot-faqs

So, if you are a man or have a man in your life (old or young) please take a look at these numbers and see where you (they) fit in. Do you need to take stock? What can you do to make some changes in your life?

We’re here to help in any way, so let us know if you’d like some more information on any of this.

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Time travel...or time travels?

How many times a day do we say the word ‘time’? ‘I’m running out of time’, ‘I don’t have time…’., ‘there’s not enough time in the day’, ‘when was the last time…’, ‘I wish I could go back in time’?

I’ve just had the absolute pleasure of welcoming my nephew into our home, visiting from Auckland, NZ and the first thing that came into my mind was, where has time gone? He is a full grown man now and I still remember him as a young boy. And yet, when we connect again, it’s as if time travels and it’s like yesterday when we were all together again.

What does time mean to you? Do you put things off for a later date - another time? Do you make full use of every moment of time you have and make it count?

In the work that Åse and I do we often come across people who say, ‘yes - we need to do this or that - we’ll do it when we have time!’ And more often than not, the moment passes and it doesn’t get done.

What can you do today that you’ve been putting off? What can you say instead when faced with another of these time issues? How about accepting and committing to a ‘bite-size’ piece of whatever seems to need too much time. For example. Instead of saying to myself, I must find time to go and visit my friend who lives 90 minutes away (which gets put off and put off as I can’t find ‘the time’ to take a whole day out to do this) - I can prioritise a regular call with her for 30 minutes every week so that I make the time to commit to our friendship.

Every time you come across this thought pattern ‘I need more time / I wish I had more time’ - re-frame that thought into, ‘what can I do in the time I have now’? Commit to that and do it! Maybe it’s calling that friend of yours, or doing a parenting or wellbeing course with us? Something that gives you the time to think, enrich your life and connect with yourself and others.

A small bit of time spent on someone/something is more important than waiting for a big chunk of time that never comes!

I hope you agree?

Have a great weekend everyone…take some time for yourself!

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Work environment - who is responsible?

What choices have we got as far as making our jobs and work environment a good place to be?

Recognition and money does not necessarily mean satisfaction and contentment at work.

The ethos, values and atmosphere of a company can make all the difference to why an employee chooses to stay with an employer.

So what responsibility towards their staffs’ wellbeing does a company have? Where is the employees own responsibility?

We all have to take charge of our wellbeing as much as we can. On a practical level that can be healthy eating, exercise and sleep. On an emotional level, communication and connection goes a long way.

In order to create these relationships and maintain them, there has to be a commitment and understanding from both employer and employee.

To suffer mental health issues can feel like a very vulnerable place to be. It takes courage to talk to a manager about it and ask for help.

An employer/manager needs to be approachable and empathic in order for employees to communicate with them. Employees also have to be better equipped to understand colleagues differences and needs to enable a harmonious work place.

This is where we can help. We can ensure your management and staff are trained and understand what is needed to grow and keep the company family together.


Do you spy on your child (ren)?

Huawei has been in the news lately and seems to have got into trouble because some people think they are using their technology to ‘spy’ on people.  Even though the Company totally denies this claim, it has certainly generated a lot of interesting conversations about if it’s true, or even possible!

So, thinking about the concept of  ‘spying’ - who has the right to do this?  As the boss of a Company or a team leader, do you have the right to access any information your employee has created or their correspondence?  What impact would this have on you or the employee? 

As a parent, do you have the right to read your child’s diary or their text messages?  What are the boundaries?  What are the norms and rules?  What impact would this have on your relationship with your child? Can you resist the urge to do this?

In our work with parents,  Åse and I always language this question around the ages of the children and the risks involved.  It can be very controversial but we believe mutual trust is key, so you don’t invade personal space without prior communication and consent (i.e. you don’t ‘spy’).  Rather work with your child to gain access to this communication if you feel it’s important. 

The only time this would change is if you feel there is a significant risk to your child (if they are very depressed or suicidal) and breaking this trust to gain information may in fact be a life-saving action.  There’s also the very real worry about grooming and how this develops.  Breck Bednar  is a real example of this devastating situation.  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-47473932 Would this concern justify you spying on your child?

It would be great to hear what you think?  What experiences you’ve had with this and what you can share?  Please comment below if you’d like to join this conversation.


Why is listening and sharing so important?

This week is Mental Health week and I thought I’d write about the secret battles a lot of people are facing.

The stigma around mental health problems is still big even though it is getting better. A lot of people are working hard to get the message through to companies that they are part of the problem and need to become part of the solution. The more we talk, the more people dare to open up. There are some brilliant movements going on like Minds @ work and the Leaderboard, created by Rob Stephenson at Inside-out.org, which publishes names of leaders who are open about their Mental Health issues. It shows great leadership to share difficulties and real life issues as it enable others to speak up. This is what is needed; real people, real problems and no fear in sharing.

As a counsellor, I worked with many people who did not talk to anyone around them. The fear of being judged and seen as weak was too great. The relief of being able to open up was evident as was the progress of a lot of clients that finally had someone that listened. Listening is a great skill and we just don’t teach this enough.

When a person is heard, they feel understood, acknowledged, validated, significant and seen. How can we ensure that our nearest and dearest and ourselves understand this and are able to share?

How can we create trust with our children to enable talking? The emphasis on communication can’t be talked about enough. It’s the basis of every relationship we have whether at home or at work. Misunderstandings happen too easily and are not clarified often enough.

If in doubt or not clear about what someone is actually saying; ASK!!

Stop making assumptions that people ought to know and how can they not?!

Start talking and actually listen. The effort can make a huge difference!