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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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‘Time to Talk’ you say? #TimetoTalk By Jane McNeice

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

‘Time to Talk’ you say? #TimetoTalk By Jane McNeice

The stigma around mental health is well documented, with 9 out of 10 service users (87%) in the Time to Change ‘Stigma Shout’ report highlighting its negative impact on their lives (Time to Change, 2008). People often find that the associated stigma of mental health problems is in fact a greater issue that the actual mental health problem itself. Stigma and discrimination take a variety of forms, direct, indirect, institutional, and many others. Such stigma and discrimination prevents people that need help from accessing appropriate support, whether that’s from services, friends or family, employers, or others. Without support and early intervention, mental health problems can deteriorate, and the risk of such things like relationship breakdowns, isolation, unemployment, financial and housing problems, and social exclusion, become greater. With 450 million people world-wide having a mental health problem (Mental Health Foundation, 2017), that’s a lot of people of who’s lives could be improved if we can reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. Time to Talk day is about raising awareness of mental health, making people feel comfortable and safe about talking about mental health, and getting conversations started. It’s also a great opportunity to think about whether you yourself hold prejudices around mental health, or self-stigma. If so, where does this thinking come from? Is it TV or other media, or from the understanding and possible prejudices of those around you? Is it due to your exposure (or lack of) and experiences of mental health growing up? And most of all is it accurate? Time to Talk Day is a great opportunity to challenge your thinking and knowledge, and to update it (why not take the Time to Change mental health quiz?), but most of all to give yourself and others permission to talk about mental health, and to know that mental health problems do not define you, and they are no different to physical health problems. Great things emerge when we talk about mental health: We raise people’s awareness and knowledge of mental health and illness, both their own, and that of others We normalise mental health problems People feel listened to – find out more about non-judgemental listening skills on our Adult MHFA training course People feel supported – learn how to support someone with a mental health problem on our MHFA courses People feel more confident in seeking professional help But most importantly of all we can help to reduce people’s suffering, give hope for recovery, and can help start someone’s journey to feeling better.  You can find out more about taking part in this years’ Time to Talk day on 2nd February here #TimetoTalk And if you’d like to find out more about supporting your own and other people’s mental health, information on our training courses can be found here Start your conversation today!...

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The Sound of Productivity, By totaljobs

Posted by on 27 Dec, 2016 in Mental Health | 0 comments

The Sound of Productivity, By totaljobs

A new psychology-led report from totaljobs, finds there is a link between music, mental well-being, and productivity. Key statistics include: 79% of people would benefit from listening to music at work 59% of employees say listening to music at work improves their mental well-being, and overall mood Worryingly, 38% of people are not allowed to listen to it On average 26% of people have no control over the music they listen to at work (which can impact their well-being) The Sound of Productivity report is based on data from 4,500+ responses collected from an interactive tool. It was created in collaboration with music psychologist Dr Anneli Haake, and music streaming service Deezer UK, and looked at the attitudes towards music at work, and whether it helped productivity. The full data from ‘The Sound of Productivity’ can be found here: https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/sound-of-productivity-report/. If you’re lucky enough to listen to music at work, you can take the totaljobs music personality quiz, which courtesy of music streaming service Deezer UK, creates a specially curated playlist to help get you through your 9-5....

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New Year, New You: Will you be making a New Year’s Resolution this January? By Jane McNeice

Posted by on 20 Dec, 2016 in Mental Health | 0 comments

New Year, New You: Will you be making a New Year’s Resolution this January? By Jane McNeice

And so we step into a New Year, some with trepidation, others with bold strides – out with the old, in with the new and all that stuff. And so some of you may be contemplating a New Years Resolution, our annual commitment to positive self-improvement! Some will take this seriously, others light-heartedly, some will share it, others will do it privately, but all in all evidence suggests that for many of us it might be short-lived. So we might be drawn into thinking that we shouldn’t bother with a New Year’s Resolution this year, or better still, let’s commit to making a resolution to change on any given day of the year! At Mind Matters HQ we’re wholeheartedly embracing the New Year’s Resolution! And the reason we’re doing this is for everything that it stands for, it’s merriment, tradition, the fact that most of us will make one – even if we don’t believe it will be kept – and even if, in fact, it won’t be kept. We’re embracing it because it reinforces to us that change is not something to be feared, that change is always possible, fresh starts CAN be made, and failure is ok – in fact we only really fail if we don’t give it a try in the first place. Lessons can also be learned from failures, and we can always pick ourselves back up and start over again. It’s also an opportunity to support others with their resolutions too, whether that’s being there when they are vulnerable to failure or lapse, providing direct support, or just being the one who listens. The New Year holds so many possibilities for each and everyone of us, a time for turning a new page, and aiming for that new improved self. Whether you do or don’t make a resolution this January 1st, take the New Years Resolution as symbolic of the fact that change is ALWAYS possible, a symbol of hope for 2017 and beyond…...

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