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Mental Health Awareness, By Sandra Greatorex

Posted by on 25 May, 2017 in Mental Health | Comments Off on Mental Health Awareness, By Sandra Greatorex

Mental Health Awareness, By Sandra Greatorex

When I watched the video’s about Heads Together I was quite moved by the passion of Prince Harry, William and Kate in helping people who suffer with Mental Health.  This week it is Mental Health Awareness Week with a surviving or thriving theme.  How would you describe yourself?  A number of years ago I suffered with depression and anxiety and had to take 4 months off work.  It made me realise that my health was the most important thing as you don’t have quality of life without good health and well-being. The sad thing about mental health is the stigma that is attached to it.  People don’t understand and turn their back on you when you really need them to support you and understand you during this time.  All you need is for someone to take the time to listen and let you talk, encourage and support you to do everyday tasks.  What they don’t think about is that one day this could happen to them. Going back to the time when I suffered from depression it all started where I felt really tired and had a terrible sore throat.  I went to see my doctor who said she thought I had depression and anxiety.  I had disbelief as it was just a sore throat and I felt tired.  She took a blood test to check for a virus but the results proved that this was not the case.  There was no particular one thing that had caused the depression just life had got on top of me.  It felt like my body had had enough and was now controlling me.  I had a safe little world it was when I was asleep.  I could have slept 24 hours a day and still would have felt tired.  When life got too much for me and I had issues to deal with I would lay down and go back to sleep.  There were no problems in the world of sleep. Prior to having depression I had worked with people with Mental Health problems and couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t turn up to outings. But now I fully understood as I had my up days and down days.  I never knew how long the up would last or even the down for that matter and there was never a particular reason why I would feel down.  I was prescribed anti-depressants but understood that these would help to make me feel better but I also opted for counselling.  The counselling was really useful it helped me to understand that the more I slept I fed my depression.  I was set targets of doing chores around the house the first time it took me all day to clean the living room.  I would dust one piece of furniture and then lie down and go to sleep.  It was hard as I knew the only way to get better was to make myself do different tasks.  I have fully recovered I am aware of maintaining my mental health and well-being. I was in my forties when I had depression, I think it is so sad in society today that there are many young people out there that suffer with their mental health and struggle with life.  They have so much to look forward to...

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High Functioning: An unhelpful card to be holding, By Jane McNeice

Posted by on 23 May, 2017 in Mental Health | Comments Off on High Functioning: An unhelpful card to be holding, By Jane McNeice

High Functioning: An unhelpful card to be holding, By Jane McNeice

When many people think of mental health, they in fact think of mental illness, not the fact that we all have mental health as we have physical health, and the parity that should exist between both. Mental health is often measured in ways that attempt to be as objective as possible (and rightly so) with much focus on mental illness, or in fact inability – what can or can’t you do today, the past week, month? Scales of 1-10 on whether you felt able to get up and go to work, whether you felt able to interact with family and friends, whether you could take care of your responsibilities. But for the so called ‘high functioning’ this doesn’t seem to equate. In fact we may supersede the average man on ability to perform or function, including the mentally healthy man! Because of traits like perfectionism, drive, our underlying fears, the desire to bury any appearance of anxiety and fear, and other often negative reinforcers, the measures just don’t pick up on what’s really happening… So what is really happening under my high functioning, high achieving, high performing, results driven, perfect exterior? Inside my head, no one is distinguishing between whether I ‘high function’ or not, my mind just knows the fears, the drive, the anxiety. The anxiety, that has all the hallmarks as we might know them – waking me up when it’s still dark and my body is craving sleep, but my head wants to work out how I’m going to make sure all those tasks get done, so that I can assuage the fear and anguish of if they don’t – which of course they will because I’m HF! When I push myself right out of my comfort zone, for all the reasons previously stated (and more), because I’m always trying so hard to beat my monster that’s been chained to my side since the age of 3, the monster that I allow to censor what I say in an attempt not to offend, upset, and hurt anyone else other than me. Maybe if the measures asked me about all the tactics I use to manage and assuage my intense ‘going to be eaten alive’ fear, they may capture something of how I feel inside. How many times a week do I ignore a phone call, search engine the number, and check who it might be so that I can mentally prepare to deal with it on my terms so that it’s manageable and I can cope? How many times did I do something I didn’t want to do to ensure someone else was alright, not in fear, upset, offended or sad? How many tasks did I complete this week that I still felt weren’t perfect or just quite good enough? And furthermore, on a scale of 1-10 just how anxious or sad did this make me feel? The true sadness is that oftentimes the highly anxious don’t leave a task like that till we have assuaged the fear, and have made it what we consider ‘perfect’, because the pain of it not being so is greater. The true hardship is exhaustion – high functioning anxiety makes me a machine of performance, with no real acknowledgement to the human inside. The human inside is sometimes lost, both...

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Improving Your Everyday Life Through Art Therapy, By Caileigh Flannigan

Posted by on 3 May, 2017 in Mental Health | Comments Off on Improving Your Everyday Life Through Art Therapy, By Caileigh Flannigan

Improving Your Everyday Life Through Art Therapy, By Caileigh Flannigan

Paint, Sculpt, or Color Your Way to Relaxation… It seems that everyone today has some level of stress in his or her everyday life. Whether it is rooted in work, school, the past, or personal relationships, stress is a huge part of our lives. Stress can have many negative effects on physical and psychological systems. An inability to positively control or manage stress may lead to inappropriate behavior such as alcohol consumption, overeating, or neglecting feelings. It’s important to know that stress can be managed effectively, at very little cost, and in a fun way! Art therapy is a great therapeutic approach that you can use in your daily life to keep your stress levels low and your contentedness high. What is Art Therapy? Art therapy is an approach that involves the creative processes of art to improve one’s life. For example, drawing, coloring, painting, doodling, and sculpting are all examples of art forms that can be used as a means of therapy. Using art as a medium for healing promotes self-exploration, understanding, self-esteem, and awareness. It is a way for a person to improve their mental, emotional, and physical states, as well as their overall health. When you use imagery, colors, shapes, and designs as a part of your therapeutic process, your thoughts and feelings can be expressed through your art, rather than words that are often difficult to articulate to others. This means that you do not have to verbalise how you are feeling. Art therapy can be done in counseling, where you work one-on-one with a trained and certified art therapist. However, the healing potential of art is not only effective in a counseling or psychotherapy setting. Art therapy techniques and approaches can be completed at home, work, or school without a therapist. In some methods of art therapy, you are your own therapist. This is one of the great things about art therapy – you can practice antistress art anywhere! Art can be practiced at work, at home, on the bus, or during any downtime. Rather than stressing out about the next big meeting, you can color or doodle on some paper. You can release negative emotions about your job or personal relationships through artwork. This, in turn, helps overcome the stress, avoids further upset and creates a coping strategy for future stressful times. Who Can Benefit from Art Therapy? You don’t need to be a talented artist to engage in art therapy or to enjoy its benefits. After all, the goal is not to create a masterpiece but to express yourself freely through art; the artistic results are secondary to the emotional benefits. Art therapy improves the lives of many people. It can help people who have been exposed to loss or trauma. It can support people in overcoming addiction and mental health disorders. It has even been used in hospital settings for cancer patients. It’s also a common expressive therapy for children. The great thing about art therapy is that it can help the lives of so many people – even if you do not have a major concern or illness. Art therapy is beneficial to people who experience the stressors of everyday modern life. Have you ever noticed how expressive arts therapy is calming and peaceful? Have you ever come home from...

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A Recovery Story, By Laura Clark

Posted by on 18 Apr, 2017 in Mental Health | Comments Off on A Recovery Story, By Laura Clark

A Recovery Story, By Laura Clark

“Postnatal Depression recovery stories.” These were the only words I typed into my browser for weeks. My anxiety was incredibly high, I genuinely thought I was losing my mind. Instead of cuddling my son or enjoying his first smiles, I was scouring the internet for undeniable proof that I wouldn’t feel this way forever.   Despite what my damaged mind was telling me, things did get better. I don’t feel that way anymore. So I’m posting my own story for any other mums who might be searching for answers now.  My son was born at 1am on 27 Apr 2013 after 12 hours labour, an epidural and finally an emergency section. They had given me so much anesthetic at the last moment I became “blocked,” meaning I couldn’t move or feel anything besides my head and neck. I couldn’t hold my son for several hours, and I couldn’t feel when he was feeding.   Looking back, things weren’t right from that very first day. I wasn’t feeling anywhere near the post-birth euphoria I had been expecting. But it wasn’t until 8 weeks later the cracks finally began to show.  My son had just begun sleeping better, only waking for one feed during the night, but while he slept soundly at last I lay wide awake. The less I was able to sleep, the more I panicked during the day. How can I take care of him when I haven’t slept? What if I drop him down the stairs because I’m so exhausted? What if I fall asleep on the sofa and suffocate him? Of course, with these anxieties running around my mind all day I was nowhere near relaxed enough to sleep when night came around, and so the vicious cycle continued. I was lying in bed for around six hours each night, my heart racing and my thoughts spinning, until my body eventually gave in and I slept fitfully for between 1-2 hours before I awoke with a jolt, feeling sick and panicked once more.   After 6 days of sleeping only an hour or two a night I burst into tears during a group I was attending at my local children’s centre. The staff were incredible, they calmed me as much as possible and called my health visitor. For the next few days she came by to see how I was, she listened to my fears and heard how I still wasn’t sleeping. I took all the usual advice – bath before bed, fresh bedding, read a book etc – but this only made my sleep worse. The pressure to sleep increased my panic and continued the cycle.   I was then referred to my local Perinatal Emotional Wellbeing Service (PEWS). This is a fantastic NHS service which, sadly, isn’t available in all Trusts. Fortunately for me, Essex has it and that small team of individuals probably saved my life. Or at least kept me out of hospital.  After they assessed me I was diagnosed with Postnatal Depression. I had been desperately hoping there was another explanation but deep down I knew it wasn’t only insomnia, I wasn’t eating or able to think straight either, all triggered by horrendous anxiety. PEWS liaised with my doctor (who was fairly useless, more on that in a future post) and visited me at home twice a week. Under...

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Tutorial Leaders undertake the Youth Mental Health First Aid qualification

Posted by on 13 Apr, 2017 in Mental Health | Comments Off on Tutorial Leaders undertake the Youth Mental Health First Aid qualification

Tutorial Leaders undertake the Youth Mental Health First Aid qualification

A number of our Tutorial Team Leaders completed the Youth Mental Health First Aid qualification on World Mental Health Day, 10 October, delivered by Mind Matters. The qualification gives a clear focus on the issues faced by young people today, including bullying, cyber bullying and substance misuse. The course also teaches the importance of promoting wellbeing and protective factors against mental health issues. The session was a mixture of presentations, discussions and group work activities, equipping our staff with the skills and knowledge to enable them to support all students. Michael Bentley, Tutorial Team Leader in the Business, Warehousing and Logistics department, said: “This event was a great opportunity to develop new skills and reinforce existing knowledge so that we can better support our students. It was also an invaluable chance to strengthen the network of support that our fellow Youth Mental Health First Aiders can offer each other, before, during and after helping students.” “This session has equipped me with the extra knowledge and confidence to speak more freely about mental health.” Emma Warren, Tutorial Team Leader in the Childcare and Education Professions department said: “The statistics that were shown throughout the training were eye opening and it was very interesting to see how the level of mental health issues relating to gender and age has increased throughout the years. This session has equipped me with the extra knowledge and confidence to speak more freely about mental health and eliminate the stigma surrounding it.”...

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Exploring What Matters… By Jane McNeice

Posted by on 19 Mar, 2017 in Mental Health | 0 comments

Exploring What Matters… By Jane McNeice

On 26th January 2017 I began to ‘explore what matters’ though my journey took a different route than I expected… As a trainer in mental health, in particular Mental Health First Aid courses, I felt like I wanted to widen my knowledge and experience. Of particular interest was the area of positive psychology and the concept that is happiness. Around the same time, I fortuitously made the discovery of a relatively new internationally recognised course developed by Action for Happiness and suitably titled ‘Exploring What Matters’ I learned that this was an 8 week course which anyone could deliver, and in fact a course that Action for Happiness would like as many people to deliver as possible. I soon recognised that whilst this was described as a course, it was in fact something much greater; it was a global movement… Whilst facilitating this exploration of life and happiness, I met some amazing people, in our case an all-female group, but one wherein we would have preferred men to be present too. Notwithstanding this, we embarked on the 8 weeks journey covering the following happiness themes: WEEK 1: What really matters in life? Lots of things are important in life, but how should we decide what really matters to us? This session explores whether a greater focus on happiness and wellbeing might be better for all of us. WEEK 2: What actually makes us happy? We’re told that happiness comes from having more and earning more, but is this really true? Does happiness come from our circumstances or our inner attitudes? And can we learn how to be happier? WEEK 3: Can we find peace of mind? Life can be highly stressful. In this session we’ll explore how to deal effectively with life’s ups and downs and cope with adversity. And we’ll look at some skills which can help us be more resilient. WEEK 4: How should we treat others? Our society appears increasingly individualistic and competitive. Is this just human nature or are we naturally altruistic too? How should we behave towards others – and can we learn to be more compassionate? WEEK 5: What makes for great relationships? We’re a social species and most of us know that our connections with others are vitally important. But what really affects our relationships and are there practical things we can do to enhance them? WEEK 6: Can we be happier at work? Work is a huge part of our lives, but many of us find our work to be stressful and frustrating. Do happier organisations get better results? What makes us happy at work? And what can we do about it? WEEK 7: Can we build happier communities? What does it mean to live well together – and why are some communities or societies much happier than others? In this session we’ll explore how to create communities that are more caring, connected and happy. WEEK 8: How can we create a happier world? This session brings together everything we’ve covered during the course. It aims to inspire each of us to live in a way that contributes to a happier world, not just for ourselves but for others too. Whilst working to the Exploring What Matters session structure, including professional view points and interesting facts, our group discussions went far and wide – life, work, relationships, our personalities, mental health, communities, our life experiences – with...

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Playing to Your Strengths, By Jane McNeice

Posted by on 3 Mar, 2017 in Mental Health | 0 comments

Playing to Your Strengths, By Jane McNeice

When Mind Matters was invited to contribute to the delivery of an innovative new programme to support families with their mental health we were delighted at the opportunity! ‘Playing to Your Strengths’ is a pioneering new programme of delivery working with families in the Dearne area of Barnsley/Rotherham. Families would be supported by Mind Matters and other partners, including lead partner Station House Community Association, through the internationally recognised Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid training to develop and raise their awareness and understanding of mental health to support both themselves and their children, who are aged between 5-11. The ‘Playing to Your Strengths’ programme is aimed at families who feel a bit over-whelmed at times and are interested in doing things a bit differently. It is an opportunity to make changes. Through their years of experience working with families in a childcare setting, staff at Station House Community Association were able to identify groups of families that were struggling with day-to-day issues. It was of course acknowledged and accepted that the programme couldn’t remove these problems, but what we could offer was help to equip the families to better cope with them and the associated stress. The programme supports the whole family, including parents, step-parents, other significant adults, and of course the children themselves. The four week programme works with adults and children in their separate groups. On weeks one to three the children work with a professional Play Therapist to learn how to use play to better manage the children’s own worries and concerns. Play is essential in every child’s life, but with educational pressures and other modern day distractions most children get limited opportunities to learn about play. For the adults during weeks one and two, they would receive training from Mind Matters in the 3 hour Mental Health First Aid Lite and Youth Mental Health First Aid Lite courses, giving parents a raised understanding that aids early intervention, raises mental health literacy, and introduces the skills and knowledge to better manage mental health and wellbeing within the family. During week three, families will work with a professional Parenting Support Worker, learning about very practical and realistic parenting challenges. Further support will be provided after the four week program in the form of a home visit to each family. Week four of the ‘Playing to Your Strengths’ program will bring all the families, learning, and support providers together to discuss ways forward to benefit the families, and will also be an opportunity to celebrate the completion of the program and where all families will take part in a play activity designed by the children themselves. Families will be issued with course certificates from the two mental health courses, and support packs provided for future reference and family support. The Playing to Your Strengths program is being professionally evaluated to capture future needs of the families and specific key outcomes which may include: Adults feel better informed about how poor mental health can have an adverse effect on family wellbeing Children can identify a range of play based strategies to self-manage stress times in their lives Adults report feeling better able to self-manage challenges that evolve in family life Families show a great understanding about the importance of play as a family activity...

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Office Temperature affects Staff Wellbeing

Posted by on 3 Mar, 2017 in Mental Health | 0 comments

Office Temperature affects Staff Wellbeing

Over the past few weeks the great British weather has yet again been a major talking point; one day quite mild, dry and bright conditions the next storm Doris takes hold, blowing in the cold, rain and snow and causing road traffic and other travel chaos throughout the UK. Clearly as a business owner or employer you have responsibilities to ensure an appropriate working environment for your staff. But, as the temperature outside is constantly changing, it’s often difficult to gauge how to set the temperature indoors, especially when older heating and ventilation systems are not that flexible and this can affect the mood of the people occupying the space… Apart from being a legal obligation to maintain a suitable temperature range within the office, research shows that providing a comfortable environment for your workforce has a noticeable effect on morale and wellbeing! We’ve lost count of how many times employees claim their workplace is draughty and freezing cold, while others grumble of theirs being stuffy and too hot to work effectively. Some have even complained that the same office can demonstrate both deficiencies! We appreciate that a lot of this comes down to individual preference, and whilst you can’t please everyone all of the time; by talking to staff and understanding their requirements, you could provide the optimum working environment that will help towards maximum productivity and increased mental health and wellbeing. Here are just some of the ways you can help… Ensure your heating and ventilation systems are serviced regularly Position desks away draughty doorways and corridors. Give staff some control over their workspace; for example, can they open a window if they’re too hot? Or turn the heating up if they’re cold? Generating and maintaining an ambient temperature will keep staff happy! As winter moves to spring and beyond, isn’t it time you reviewed the wellbeing of your workforce? www.whitespace.org.uk...

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A Journey to Recovery through Art, By Andy Hollinghurst

Posted by on 7 Feb, 2017 in Mental Health | 0 comments

A Journey to Recovery through Art, By Andy Hollinghurst

We are often defined by what we do, not who we are. Sometimes you wonder how low you can go and if you have been at the top of your profession it’s a long way down. I used to be a head teacher. Over the last year or so when asked what I do, I say I am Andy Hollinghurst, an artist, who campaigns for mental health organisations such as Time to Change, Mind and Mental Health First Aid England. Now, I am a’ Head Teacher,’ a teacher of heads, but fundamentally Andy an artist, check out www.andyhollinghurst.com . I have changed my talks recently; they follow my progress towards recovery, through my art. People don’t want to hear, ‘woe is me, wasn’t I hard done to!’ well yes I was, but let’s use what happened to me as a lesson for change, hope and recovery. The ravages of a small school take their toll, especially for a person with anxiety. Can you imagine the variables of disaster that could lurk within a school, staff, pupils, buildings, parents, advisors, dinner ladies? When you have anxiety you try to prevent problems, cross every ‘t’ dot every ‘i’ and pre-empt potential pit falls. Impossible in a school. On the surface I was Mr Congeniality, always calm, in control, pleasant, efficient organised. In my head I was slowly burning out. Being the ‘Proud Man,’ I did not ask for help, after all I had my family to support, a weak person throws in the towel, admit they are struggling, not me, all the clichés I now bandy about in my talks. A psychologist said to me once, ‘You had no choice but to be ill!’ on reflection she was right, it was only being ill that would stop me as I would have carried on until I could carry on no more and that is what happened to me, and that is why I am such a passionate campaigner for wellbeing and reform in the workplace, where it is ok to struggle and be supported when you do. I don’t intend going into detail in this blog about what happened to me in words but with my art hat on and in illustrative way, this is what happened to me. Painted a couple of weeks after I became ill, as a teacher you have 6 months to recover, from where I had gone it took me ten years, now I manage very well most of the time, recovery is possible but more possible if you don’t fall too far. It can be a lonely place and I had the support of my family. When you have a deep depression it isolates you and makes you insular, turned in on yourself and this can be a struggle for your loved ones. It’s a feeling in the pit of your stomach an unease, a need for ‘Deep Rest,’ yet you can’t sleep or find solace. This sadness puts pressure on all around you, like a storm brewing over the sea… And it can have consequences in your relationships… Janice and I where asked to make a film about depression for Mental Health First Aid England, and during the filming I listened and heard for the first time the consequences of my illness on her,...

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Learning How to Cope with Social Anxiety, By Barbara Markway

Posted by on 13 Jan, 2017 in Mental Health | 0 comments

Learning How to Cope with Social Anxiety, By Barbara Markway

Most of us can relate to feeling anxious before a big speech, a job interview, or a first date. But for some, the experience is much more than butterflies in the stomach. If you worry a great deal about what others think of you, you have social anxiety. You might be uncomfortable returning items to a store or ordering pizza over the phone. You might avoid social gatherings. You may have few or no close friends. Perhaps you’ve turned down job promotions because you feared needing to make presentations. Maybe you even use alcohol or drugs to feel more comfortable in social situations. When social anxiety ramps up to this point – where you’re living your life based on fear – it’s morphed into what’s termed social anxiety disorder. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, social anxiety disorder is characterized by an extreme fear of judgment and scrutiny in social and performance situations. It’s a serious, real, and treatable disorder. According to the ADAA, about 15 million American adults struggle with social anxiety disorder, making it one of the most common psychiatric disorders, second only to depression. Signs and Symptoms The symptoms of social anxiety disorder fall into three categories: mental, physical, and behavioral. People with social anxiety are plagued by negative thoughts and beliefs about themselves. With the fear of possible rejection or disapproval being foremost in their minds, they scan their surroundings for any signs that confirm their negative expectations. Physical symptoms most commonly include blushing, sweating, and shaking. Full-blown panic attacks, in which a rush of physical sensations bombards them all at once, are not uncommon. Finally, people with social anxiety may go to great lengths to avoid the situations they fear. Do you have a problem? Because we all have some degree of social anxiety, how do you know whether you have a problem? Start with these questions: Do you feel extremely uncomfortable in social situations? Do you consistently avoid social situations? Are you self-conscious and believe everyone is watching you? Do you constantly worry about what you do and say? Do you worry a great deal about doing something embarrassing? Do you worry for weeks before the dreaded situation? Do you critically analyze your own performance after the situation? The more of these questions you answer “yes” to, the more likely it is you have social anxiety disorder. Positive Thinking Versus Realistic Thinking When feeling anxious, you’re likely to give yourself a pep talk and say things like, “Don’t worry. It’s no big deal.” Similarly, other people may tell you to “think positive.” Although well meaning, this advice is not particularly useful. What’s needed is not positive thinking but realistic thinking. Two types of unrealistic thinking contribute to social anxiety. First of all, you may overestimate how likely it is that something bad will occur. Second, you may exaggerate how bad it would be if the feared thing actually did happen. Let’s look at an example in which Jennifer is worried about an upcoming business lunch she will be attending. She may have anxious thoughts running through her head such as: What if I don’t have anything in common with the other people there? What if there are awkward silences? What could be a calming, realistic way for Jennifer to think...

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