Mental Health

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!

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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:

www.familyfocusuk.com

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

https://businessadvice.co.uk/hr/employment-law/sme-employers-mental-health/?utm_source=ba_newsletter&utm_medium=main&utm_campaign=ba_newsletter_28668&utm_content=ba_story_standard&utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=A+bad+hire+could+cost+your+business+£132%2C000%21&utm_campaign=BA+Newsletter+Daily+15%2F07%2F2019

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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!

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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!!

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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:

https://www.samaritans.org/about-samaritans/research-policy/suicide-facts-and-figures/

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

Take care.

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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!!

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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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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!

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Women and our hormones

I’ve been thinking lately about the impact of hormones in our lives. Girls and women have to deal with this from an early age and it impacts very differently from person to person. It’s amazing to think 50% of the population will suffer at some stage to something out of their control.

I do know that men also have hormonal changes but I am pretty sure, us women have the tougher deal…

One thing is for certain though, all women experience something in our lifetime, whether it’s puberty, childbearing years or menopause. Things like period pain, masses of bleeding, PMS, exhaustion, headaches, memory blips, mood swings, acne, weight gain, weight loss (yes, that happens too…), low libido, high libido, skin changes, hair thinning, depression etc. The list is very long!!

These issues can have a massive impact on a woman’s life and everyone around her, yet it’s not something we talk about often enough. A lot of men, in particular those inexperienced with women, have no idea of the battles that go on. Even some men who have female partners are in the dark why their women turn into ‘moody cows’ at times.

I think it’s up to us women to educate the men around us and explain what to expect at times and why it happens. Sometimes we have choices and can control what happens but a lot of the time, we can’t.

The more we talk about it from an early age, to both our sons and daughters, the easier it will be for everyone. Our kids also get to see sides of us we wish they didn’t have to but yet again, talk and explain.

As always, understanding and knowledge is power and we have to help ourselves and our loved ones by taking charge of this. We can’t wait or expect others, like the school or friends, to explain to our men and children.

Also, in a work environment, this is very common. We have to talk to our co workers when needed. They can’t read our minds and understand what is going on. Having said that, please be supportive of the female staff during certain times in their lives. It’s hard enough having to cope with yourself, let alone everyone else around you.

I used to get dreadful hot flushes at any time of the day. In my work, I do 1-2-1 sessions and sometimes a flush would hit me. I’d go red and start to perspire. Not a nice look or feeling. When that happened, I had to explain that it was not about them and their story, but me and my menopause… At least they knew and I felt better for explaining.

Awareness is key. Educate, train and encourage communication. It is needed all around us so get talking!

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Phones and sleep

So, it’s been in the news lately about the connection between mobile phones and sleep deprivation.

In particular, it’s been concerning children and ensuring they get enough sleep which is a national problem, and was highlighted on the BBC news this morning.

We all need our sleep to function properly and children need it even more in order to allow their brains to develop the way it needs to.

There is lots of data and research as far as sleep goes and it’s being done for a reason; sleep deprivation is affecting people everywhere. It’s not just about individuals and their personal needs, it’s very much about us as a society.

Sleep deprivation affects our ability to function properly including concentrating whilst driving and working. Productivity is affected for both adults and children.

Here are the latest recommendations from https://www.sleepfoundation.org

Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)

  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)

  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)

  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)

  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)

  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)

  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)

  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours

  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

There are a few variables as we do have different needs dependent on fitness levels, weight, health issues etc.

Overall though, we all need to sleep undisturbed to function and allow our brain to rest. This includes leaving phones turned off and preferably away from the bedroom. A child should never have a phone or any electronics in the bedroom as it makes it too easy to be reachable. My daughter was one of them a few years ago, she kept on getting messages from needy friends in the middle of the night and it disturbed her sleep badly. I had to step in and remove it and told her to tell her friends she has the worst mum in the world!

The need to be available 24/7 is creating a society that is unhealthy and stressful. What choices do we have? At what stage do we realise what this is doing to our health?

As parents, we are the adults and decision makers for our children when it comes to knowing what’s best for them. Dare to be the ‘worst parents in the world’ because that comes with being the loving, caring parents we need to be. Boundaries are necessary for a child to learn right from wrong and they will thank you later on!

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What colour do you feel?

I was sitting this weekend with my son as he put together a page in his photography portfolio on colour and we had a very interesting discussion about the different colours and how they represent people, moods, attitudes and feelings. It reminded me of when I had a ‘mood ring’ in my younger days and how I’d watch it change colour from day to day.

So what is colour and how does it work?

There are four psychological primary colours - red, blue, yellow and green. Each of them relate to the body, the mind and emotion and how these 3 elements are (or are not) balanced. The trick is to understand how these colours can how power over you and your emotions and how you can use them to your advantage.

The colour RED represents physicality.  Strength, energy, that ‘fight or flight’ reaction or in a negative way can suggest stress or even aggression.  Red often grabs our attention first which is why it is used with ‘stop’ traffic lights.  Red makes your pulse race faster (think love symbolised as a red heart).

BLUE refects intelligence, communication, trust and calm.  It makes us think of blue skies and releasing the mind.  It works with us on a mental (rather than a physical) level and is said to help with concentration.  However, too much blue can feel distant and even unemotional.

YELLOW is the colour of emotion and personality.  It demonstrates friendliness and creative impulses and optimism.  On a negative note it can be linked with emotional concerns such as anxiety and depression.  Using the right colour yellow will lift spirits and self-esteem and give the wearer/viewer confidence and a feeling of optimism.  Too much or the wrong tone can make you feel panic, fear and anxiety.

Finally, GREEN is about balance.  Green promotes nature, rest, peace and awareness and is often used to promote a sense of calm.  Too much green can suggest boredom and stagnation and being bland.

From these 4 primary colours comes a surge of ‘mixed’ hues that allow for a range of emotions, feelings and responses.  They are study in themselves.

Usually when we select colours to wear, paint a room, highlight a text, pick out an object it is done on a sub-conscious level, but there is always more behind the choice.  We are naturally drawn to certain colours and this can change depending on the way we are feeling, what we are trying to accomplish and the message we are wanting to relay.

So for today.  Have a look at the colour chart here and see which colour you naturally respond to.  What is your physical (body reaction), intellectual (what do you think), emotional (what do you feel) and psychological (how do you want to act) response to the colours.  Ask yourself why?

See how often this changes and when it changes.  Ask yourself why?

Colour can be a tool that you can use to build your self-esteem, your confidence.  It can help to portray a message to others subliminally or be part of a campaign with an objective to get a certain feeling or message across.

there are some different schools of thought eg DISC personality profiling that uses colour references as well as lots of additional reading available online about colour psychology and colour mood charts: https://www.verywellmind.com/color-psychology-2795824

Today I am wearing black and blue for a meeting, so I guess that makes me wanting to exude both power and trust!

How about you?

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What is really going on?

I hope you all had a good start to the new year and that life is going in the right direction.

Life can be tough at times and how we deal with it is different from one person to the other. Some bottle it up and don’t talk, some use alcohol or drugs to cope and others do talk and get help.

How do we know what works the best for us? Are we aware of what isn’t working?

We need to let anxiety and anger out at times. If we don’t, it builds up and might come out in a different, negative way like bad language, foul moods and aggression. Talking to a therapist or coach can help dealing with whatever goes on and how to change direction. It tends to be easier to talk to a neutral person who is non-judgemental.

There is always a reason behind a behaviour. We don’t always understand the connection ourselves and might need help to work it out. Our nearest and dearest sometimes know us better than we think and can support if we allow it.

One way to help is to ask questions in a sensitive way once things have cooled down. Reiterate that communication is important in order to understand and support.

What is stopping him/her talking?

If fear/ shame wasn’t an option, what would they say? What do they need right now?

Communication should always be top of the list at home, with friends and at work.

If you need help, feel unsure about something, feel sad and unable to cope; TALK!

There is always someone who will listen.

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This Can Happen....

Åse and I were very fortunate to be able to attend a mental health event in London last week called, This Can Happen. Tag lined, ‘Where Companies Address Mental Health in the Workplace’, over 750 people attended a day focused on making things happen!

One of the standout moments for me was when HRH The Duke of Cambridge joined a panel to share his own experience of mental health during his work with the Air Ambulance. This really highlighted how wide the net is flung with mental health affecting every single person in a variety of contexts and situations. His candor at how different stages of your life can produce different reactions to events really hit home. There is no ‘one size fits all’ or ‘box to tick’ to address mental health and this was really evident in the personal stories and discussions that were part of this event.

The more we talk about mental health, the more we chip away at the stigma around it and move towards a cultural shift in both organisations, communities and individuals. There is so much more talk taking place - such a fantastic change compared to even just a few years ago! Promoting open communication and genuine care and concern for each other is no longer the exception - but becoming the norm. Organisations are now getting serious about the business of mental health as part of their Corporate Strategies, but more importantly, they are really starting to care!

But what about us? What about those who are not working in big Corporates? What can we do? We need to care and communicate and to be part of the wave of movement where mental health and wellbeing are part of daily conversations. To be vigilant and mindful of ourselves and others and start our conversations with, ‘how are you feeling today?’ Ask twice: ‘how are you feeling today?’

One thing is certain. We can all make a difference, and together….THIS CAN HAPPEN!

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The invisible people

There are invisible people all around us. We might see them as we pass but we don’t SEE them.

At school, in the workplace, at the cafe, in a family… They are everywhere!

What makes someone invisible? Is it just in their own heads or is it as real for them as it was for Harry Potter whilst wearing the invisibility cloak?

I think the latter. In my work as a counsellor and coach, I come across people who feel on the outside of society and not seen. They are not noticed, not paid attention to and just ignored. What a horrible feeling that must be!

There is one client in particular that I have never forgotten. He was a man in his mid-20s and living in a bedsit. He said he had never been seen by his family and would just spend the time at home in his room, gaming and smoking weed. No interaction, no ‘How are you?’ or ‘Would you like dinner?’ Nothing. He said that no one cared and he might as well be invisible.

As a parent, that made me so sad for this lost boy. He needed love and attention in his life. That goes a long way to enable growing up.

There are of course lots of more people who feel like this and never seek help. The elderly in our country is a big group where isolation and loneliness is a big problem.

Why is this? What can we do to help?

This is where being a human and noticing others around us can help. Is there a child that rarely gets to play or get spoken to in your child’s class? Can your child engage with him or her?

Are there people in the office who rarely talk and engage with the rest? Why is that? Have you tried to connect?

In the adult world, we easily and often make assumptions and pass judgement on others without actually knowing them. Can this be the case with some of your work colleagues?

Inclusion is vital in the workplace and all around us.

Become aware of the people around us and be inclusive. Maybe there is a new friend nearby!

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World Mental Health Day - 10th October 2018

We’d like to highlight the amazing work being done around the world to both prioritise and de-stigmatise mental health. World Mental Health Day tomorrow is about supporting each other and having conversations to enable and encourage open and honest dialogue around wellbeing and mental health.

The focus this year is particularly on young people, so Åse and I decided that we would go out and ask some young people (aged 14 - 26) their views on 2 questions. The first was:-

“what is the hardest thing about being a young person today?”

Answers included:

“… social media; social media; pressure of internet; social media; stress with school; stress with exams; social media; social media…”

It was interesting how little hesitation there was when they answered this question. It was absolutely, without doubt, social media that was seen as the hardest thing to cope with as a young person today. Next was stress. Our young people are feeling a lot of stress around school work and exams!

Our next question was:-

“What does Mental Health mean to you?”

Answers included:

“ …living behind a facade; anxiety and depression; not feeling good about yourself; not too sure exactly; something to do with how you’re feeling; not coping; not to be taken as a joke…”

With this question, there was less of a theme. Some responses showed they knew a bit, but not necessarily enough or didn’t feel confident to reply. There were a variety of answers.

What was encouraging was how open and honest the young people were in their responses and how they did not shy away from the questions. They certainly seemed to be aware of mental health although not necessarily as confident or unanimous in their replies..

So our job then would be to keep the mental health momentum that seems to be with young people today going. To keep the conversations flowing so that when they enter the workplace this type of conversation and relatability is standard practise.

And something else we can do. We can add our voice in support of World Mental Health Day by wearing a green ribbon or something green tomorrow, 10th October 2018.

If you feel it or think it….SAY IT!

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A Poll taken by the WorldMentalHealthDay showed how important awareness and education is!

A Poll taken by the WorldMentalHealthDay showed how important awareness and education is!