Mental Health Training

Mental Health

Effective Therapy, By Hugh Macnab

Posted by on 9 Sep, 2018 in Mental Health |

Effective Therapy, By Hugh Macnab

Effective therapy Itʼs probably seems obvious, but therapists only see people who will go to see them. That means that they are working with people who are already suffering from some form of distress – in other words, helpful as they may be at fixing the problem, they become involved only when itʼs already too late. Perhaps more people would seek help if therapy could be available when it was really needed – when the conditions which are causing the distress are active and the individual is struggling to cope – not later, sometimes months, years or even decades after the event. Carrying long-term results of distress represents not only a personal tragedy, but also a loss of potential in our society. Of course, most people are quite resilient and can cope with a great deal of stress in their lives, and with support and understanding from family and friends, still recover without the help of a therapist – they simply do not need a therapist to talk to on a daily basis in order to cope with life. But, there is a difference between stress and distress in that the latter can have longer-lasting effects which with a little help at the right time, can usually be avoided. Think of those who suffer from trauma in childhood who struggle through teenage years because of it. Or those who suffer stress at work on a regular daily basis and cannot avoid allowing this to affect family life at home. Or again, those who stay in an emotionally damaging relationship too long and find it hard to establish a healthy relationship afterwards. There are many different examples where people suffer the effects of a distressing event for far too long. While weʼre talking about whatʼs wrong with therapy, letʼs add a few more aspects. Talking to someone you donʼt know. Firstly, you have to talk to someone you donʼt know about things which are usually either quite painful, embarrassing or personal. While a therapist can offer an independent viewpoint, and often help with whatever is causing the distress, taking the step to go and ask for help may still too difficult for many. Waiting time for an appointment If waiting for NHS treatment, this can often be quite a few months which means that help is getting further away from when it is actually needed. People may even resolve their own difficulties before receiving treatment, or just become disheartened and give up waiting, preferring to ʻbattle-onʼ on their own. Others can afford to opt for private therapy, which is good for them – but what about those who canʼt? Choosing the ʻrightʼ therapy Good luck with this one. If you are working your way through the NHS waiting list, you will almost definitely find CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) waiting for you – which may or may not be best for you. If you are looking elsewhere, there are more forms of therapy on offer than you can count, and picking...

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Social Media & Mental Health, By Jane McNeice

Posted by on 2 Sep, 2018 in Mental Health |

Social Media & Mental Health, By Jane McNeice

“Social media! Social media is the cause of their mental health problems.” A phrase I hear so frequently when I deliver mental health training, particularly when I deliver Youth MHFA courses. Few delegates tend to challenge the statement, most in agreement. This generates lots of thought for me. Firstly, is social media really the cause of mental ill health? And secondly, if it has any influence whatsoever, what is it about social media that is so bad? The world is changing, fast. One of the most significant changes in the last few decades has been the pace of technological change, in particular the growth of on-line media.  Select few are yet to be seduced by this technology – my own father who dips his toe in vicariously through my mother’s usage being one – the majority of us are in to it hook, line, and sinker. A good portion of this on-line usage is social media – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and the likes. It’s these platforms that many delegates are suggesting cause mental ill health. So what exactly is it about the usage of these platforms that they think ‘causes’ mental ill health? The most common assertion is that by using them we are left thinking that everyone else’s life is great and ours deficient in some way. Be that our lifestyle, our appearance, or perhaps whether the food we ate today was of the best type, quality, and presentation. Let us take a step back in time 20 years, pre social media as we see it today. Terms such as ‘The Jones’s’ existed, with inferences that the so called ‘Jones’s’ had everything, and were perhaps viewed with some disdain. There have always been differences in lifestyles, appearances, wealth, class, always something capable of dividing the masses, or leaving one feeling inadequate. This takes me back to my academic days studying criminology and the fact that relative deprivation seemed to cause so much more criminality than absolute deprivation. This measure of where we are in comparison to the next man (or woman), but if we are experiencing equal deprivation, that’s just about tolerable. Today’s backdrop may have shifted somewhat, people perhaps having more fascination with wealth, appearance, lifestyle, and for some sadly an inability to discern the façade that much of this probably is. And maybe to question the self-esteem of those who present the façade. Is the shift that people now believe this is achievable for themselves but in the past wasn’t? Maybe the question is why and what are we aspiring to, and why not just to be? And what is it about this that could cause mental ill health? Social media being good or bad becomes very black and white, when in fact there’s a lot grey in between. Take the person who avidly uses platforms deemed more unhelpful to our mental health, maybe within this a newsfeed that is toxic to their mental health. This might include conflicts and acrimonious comment, lots of...

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How to Improve Your Mood: 3 Simple Habits, By Sully Ali

Posted by on 24 May, 2018 in Mental Health |

How to Improve Your Mood: 3 Simple Habits, By Sully Ali

How to Improve Your Mood Right Now: 3 Simple Habits I sometimes write about how a good start to your day often leads to having a good day in general. A social, an energetic or a productive start sets the context for your day. But on some days you may not get a good start for some reason. Maybe you slept badly. Or the maybe grey skies and cold summer rain is dragging your energy down. Or you might have lost that positive momentum during a hard first part of the day and after lunch you feel tired, low or lost in a somewhat sad or uninspired funk. What to do then? Is that day lost and should you just aim for a better day tomorrow? Well, today isn’t over yet. Maybe you can still make something good out of it. Here’s how I do that by breaking the negative mood and getting a new start. Appreciate what you have. The simplest of my most commonly used pick-me-ups. I take about 2 minutes and sit in silence. I tell myself: OK, I might not feel so good right now, but what can I be grateful for and appreciate in my life? I usually come up with one simple thing like: My family. My health. That I have a roof over my head. That one thing opens up my mind. It redirects my thoughts from the negativity. Then I build upon that one thing. I make mental jumps from the roof, to the warmth in our home, to the clean water in the glass beside my laptop, to that I can work from home as the rain pours outside. I make those small mental leaps by just moving my attention around in the room I am in. Like skipping from stone to stone over a stream. And I take the time to slowly appreciate all those things. This changes my mood to a happier, warmer and more open one. Act as you would like to feel. Emotions work backwards too. So if I want to become more positive or enthusiastic then I act in the manner of a person who is positive or enthusiastic. I might not feel like it. But I do it as best as I can anyway. I may for example: Think of the task I have in front of me as something exciting and fun. Answer some emails or talk to someone in a positive and enthusiastic manner. Assume rapport if I feel unmotivated, negative or nervous before some kind of meeting (assuming rapport is to think to myself that I am meeting one of my best friends just before the meeting and that puts me in the right mood and headspace). Think for a minute and give someone a genuine compliment. Here’s a fun one I use quite often and that will not only lift my own mood. Spend 1 minute on coming up with something you really and genuinely appreciate about someone in your...

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Life can get Better… By Charlotte Underwood

Posted by on 23 Apr, 2018 in Mental Health |

Life can get Better… By Charlotte Underwood

I used to hate it when people told me that I would be okay, that life would get better and time would heal because I simply did not believe it. I still now cringe when I hear or use those sayings myself in my case my life didn’t improve. I think I’ve always had some form of mental ill health. I remember being so different to others my age, people were so alien to me and the world was so horrid though my eyes. My mother claims my first suicide attempt was at four years old. I suppose I ignored my feelings because I didn’t know any better, mental health just wasn’t talked about when I was child so I did not know that there could be more to the thoughts in my mind. At 14 my life got hard, I call it ‘my trigger year’ because I became so angry and I lost track of who I was. I was drinking, smoking, self-harming and playing with people’s feelings; I was so reckless and so far from the sweet and kind girl who I truly am. Life did not get easier for a while, in a way it got worse as I became victim to many accounts of abuse and then lost my father to suicide at the age of 18. I felt so lost because I hated education, I wasn’t ready to work and I didn’t like being at home, I had nowhere to go. However, not long after I moved to a new home with the rest of my family, after my father’s death, I decided to make a change, to love myself more, and soon enough I met the man who would come to be my husband. My husband never forced me into anything and he never controlled me, he reminded me that not all people are bad and that I am allowed to trust people, as well as the fact that I deserve to be loved for my true self. Soon I no longer felt the need to smoke, or drink, or self-harm because I found myself less stressed for the first time in my life, I had been accepted. I just wish someone told me earlier that I was fine how I was, that my feelings were valid, love won’t fix all your problems but when someone listens to you and tries to understand, that can make the world of difference. Today I live in a home with my husband and his cat, as well as my soul mate that is the sweetest dog. My dog has become a bit of a support dog because she gives me purpose and a lot of love, our furry friends can heal us more than we know. Living in a home with my husband has allowed me to be rid of toxic situations and people, so that I can start to heal wounds. It’s also helped as I have learnt to be alone and less dependent on...

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Why we can’t afford to ignore Stress, By Jane McNeice

Posted by on 22 Apr, 2018 in Mental Health |

Why we can’t afford to ignore Stress, By Jane McNeice

April is Stress Awareness Month! Why we can’t ignore Stress Integral to all of our mental health training courses at Mind Matters is a focus on Stress. We see businesses who in fact want to focus solely on Stress, whether that is Stress prevention or Stress Management through programs like our Strengthening Personal Resilience training courses, or whether that’s our Mental Health First Aid training programs where we also give considerable time to understanding stress and its impact. So why is it so important that Stress isn’t overlooked when we look at mental health? Stress in it’s own right isn’t a psychiatric diagnosis (MIND, 2013), but Stress is the enemy, in fact Chris Bergland in Psychology Today, describes the stress hormone Cortisol as Public Enemy number one! The substantial evidence base around stress endorses that NO amount stress is good for us. A good proportion of people believe that a moderate amount of stress isn’t a problem and may in fact be good for us. However, leading academics such as Derek Mowbray describe stress is a catastrophic event, the point when we become ill or go off work sick. It’s understandable in today’s world that the concept has become somewhat wooly. Stress is a well used term among both adults and young people. It’s more a case that certain things, which to an extent mobilise us e.g. pressure, are instead being described as stress. And perhaps there is also an issue of semantics here. Most of us would agree that when we are in a state of stress, particularly chronic long term stress, we find our health deteriorates. We see immune system problems such as coughs, colds, and infections flaring up, and we drastically increase our risk of having an episode of poor mental health or developing mental health problems. These include problems such as anxiety, depression, and for some people stress may trigger episodes of psychosis and other problems. Likewise if we have physical health problems, recurring or otherwise, they too are likely to be triggered or exaccerbated. Most of us have an illness that flares up at these times. Worst still we also increase our risk of developing physical health problems. There is a real need in today’s society to acknowledge Stress, take steps towards preventing it where we can, and managing it where we can’t. Stress isn’t to be underestimated. April is Stress Awareness month, a full month to focus on Stress. There are lots of things workplaces and communities can do, and lots of things you can do as an individual to look after yourselves. Following are just a few suggestions and resources that can help: Our Strengthening Personal Resilience Training Programme Accessing and using the FREE resources available at the International Stress Management Association website Helping others to recognise that stress is not a badge of honor or proof that employees are working hard enough, it’s a huge risk for businesses Find out the true facts about stress at ISMA Follow best practices like the Charter for Wellbeing at Work developed by ISMA Access NHS Moodzone on How to Deal...

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Accept responsibility – the key to better results and relationships, By Sully Ali

Posted by on 23 Feb, 2018 in Mental Health |

Accept responsibility – the key to better results and relationships, By Sully Ali

things go wrong in life, it is easy to search for a scapegoat i.e. somebody to blame so that you do not have to accept responsibility for your outcomes. Blame is a very harmful attitude to adopt. Not only are you deflecting responsibility from yourself but you are damaging your relationships by suggesting that others are holding you back. You adopt a narrow focus whereby somebody else, or something else, is to blame. There is a major problem here as you cannot improve a situation unless you actually accept responsibility. The main reason that many people refuse to accept responsibility for their life is that they feel like they are blaming themselves – as though they deliberately screwed things up. That is an inaccurate reflection of what it actually means to accept responsibility for your life. When you accept responsibility for your life, you are simply identifying the areas where you can influence change, so that you might achieve a better outcome on the next occasion. You are not attacking anybody or anything; you are identifying and implementing potential solutions. Accepting responsibility is a more positive and effective approach than attributing blame. 5 Ways to accept responsibility When you accept responsibility in your life, you are acknowledging that no situation is permanent. You are simply saying that a situation is not going as you wish and, you are going to take charge and get it back on track. The following behaviours will enable you to accept responsibility for your life and avoid blaming others for your circumstances. 1. Focus on the Solutions rather than the problems If something is holding you back and preventing you from achieving your objectives, it is important to be able to identify the problem. The difference between those who overcome their problems and those who don’t is where they focus next. Those who fail to overcome their problems, focus on the problem. Those who succeed in overcoming their problems, accept responsibility for the situation, focus on identifying an appropriate solution and take the necessary action. Being solution-focused is a clear sign of those who accept responsibility. Focusing on the solution, rather than the problem, is not as easy as it might sound. If you are like me, when things go wrong, your first instinct is to get frustrated and irritated. In your head, you may even go through all the additional problems that this is going to cause for you. In my younger days, I would spend hours or even days, thinking about and, cursing the problem. This type of mindset has never solved a problem. These days, I usually allow myself to be frustrated for a moment or two, just to get it out of my system. Then I accept responsibility for solving the problem; even if I can’t work out what I did to contribute to it. I make a list of actions I can take to get things back on track and I start implementing those actions at the first opportunity....

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