The role of friends and our mental health

A few days ago my friend sent me an article titled: “To the friends who loved me unconditionally when I hit rock bottom”, and I’ve been thinking about it since. What kept coming to mind was the powerful and often unappreciated role friendships play on our lives.

“Thank you for all the times that you showed me warmth, the random hugs that you graced me with because you knew something was up even if I didn’t tell you anything”.

For me, this particular line really resonated, it shows the real importance of true friendships and the fact that sometimes they ‘just know’. Friends love you unconditionally, even at times when you don’t love yourself. They reassure us that life does get better, there is hope and they will always be by our side to remind us. I for one am truly grateful for my friend and was really touched when I was sent this article.

After reading this article it led me think about how many people don’t feel able to talk to someone, the devastating effect this would have and what we can do to change it.

Yesterday Professor Louis Appleby released new statistics stating that in 2016 there were 4,540 suicides in England. These statistics make suicide the leading cause of death in young people in the UK and also shows those over 45 are at greatest risk. With the rate of suicides at 4,540, that’s 4,540 more deaths than there should have been. This ultimately shows is the need for support, the need to challenge stigma around mental health and that starts at home.

Let friend’s know it’s okay to talk...you’re there for them to listen, without judgment.

Being open around mental health challenges stigma in a positive light and may be all a friend needs to be comfortable in asking for our help.

When someone is struggling with their mental health they may become distant, cancel plans and want to see us less than usual. However, this is when friendships play a key role and is exactly when maintaining friendships are so important.

The mental health foundation says: If you’re the friend of someone with a mental health problem, you may be concerned about them. The most important thing is to tell them that you’re still their friend. If your friend is comfortable with being touched, a hug shows that you care about them and that you accept them whatever problems they are having.

“My friend asked me questions, didn’t just assume things, she really wanted to know.”

Take your cue from your friend. Are they comfortable with questions or would they rather talk about something else? Don’t promise things you may not be able to deliver. How can you help them best?

If you’re the friend, the most valuable support you can provide is just being there to talk and listen. People really appreciate that their friends have made time to contact them, visit them and invite them round.

These are five steps that research shows can help people with mental health problems:

■            Assess risk of suicide or self-harm

■            Listen non-judgmentally

■            Give reassurance and information

■            Encourage the person to get appropriate professional help

■            Encourage self-help strategies.

Because we understand the importance of self care & thriving we decided to create a week long agenda, during mental health awareness week, to support the community around us. You don’t need to be a service user to attend, every individual is welcome. Here at Harmless we understand that mental health doesn’t discriminate, so neither do we.

“Self-care includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health”.

At Harmless we encourage self-care every day, not only to our clients but to our delegates and our team. We understand the importance of self care…and after all, thriving starts with self care!

All our workshops are held in a safe, non judgmental environment, perfect to make new friends or support an already blossoming friendship.

Click this link to book onto one of our activities for Mental Health Awareness Week 2017: http://www.harmless.org.uk/store/index.php?route=product/category&path=99 

SURVIVING TO THRIVING – MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK (8th – 14th May 2017)

This year The Mental Health Foundation, during mental health awareness week, has taken a new positive turn. They have decided instead of asking why so many people are living with mental health problems, they are going to look at why too few of us are thriving with good mental health.

With the theme of Surviving to Thriving, I have decided to take a closer look into exactly what they meant.

Heres what I’ve learnt:

There is a fundamental difference between surviving and thriving. Surviving simply means to just ‘live’ or ‘exist’ whereas thriving means literally to ‘flourish’. It made me wonder how many of us are thriving? And what can we do to ‘thrive’?

Some examples of personal interpretations on thriving:

“Thriving is about Joy – Relationships – Creativity – Passion. It is about doing what you love and thoroughly enjoying it. It is about having a balance between career and personal life and even often about blending career with personal passion.”

“Thriving is about having meaning in everything you do.”

So with this topic of thriving in mind, during Mental Health Awareness week the team at Harmless will be running fundraising and awareness workshops/events. The aim for the week is to raise awareness, break stigmas and bring together the community, whilst raising funds for Harmless’s life saving service.

THRIVING STARTS WITH SELF CARE……….

“Self care includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health”.

At Harmless we encourage self care every day, not only to our clients but to our delegates and our team. We understand the importance of self care…and after all, thriving starts with self care!

Benefits of self care:

– Reduces stress levels.

– Increased resilience.

– Increases positive thinking.

– More effective in supporting others.

– Our mental health effects our physical health, self care supports both.

– More energy and motivation.

Because we understand the importance of self care & thriving we decided to create a week long agenda, during mental health awareness week, to support the community around us. You don’t need to be a service user to attend, every individual is welcome. Here at Harmless we understand that mental health doesn’t discriminate, so neither do we.

We’ve carefully constructed these events to support everyone by: raising awareness, challenging stigma, all whilst raising funds to allow Harmless to continue the life saving services.

World Health Day- 7th April 2017

World Health Organization (WHO) is leading a one-year global campaign on depression. The goal of the campaign is that more people with depression, everywhere in the world, both seek and get help.

What’s it like living with depression…

I suffer with depression and anxiety and have done for the majority of my life. My way of describing depression is as if someone has poured a large jug of water into your head and your brain is drowning but on the outside no one would know.

Matthew Johnstone author and illustrator of, “I had a Black Dog” decided to write the book as a visual articulation of what it is to suffer depression. His wish is that his story is shared with partners, parents, siblings, friends, even doctors and therapists to help articulate what you or someone you know is going through. He also highlights the importance of recovery explaining that everyone’s path to recovery is different. 

Never, ever give up the fight; Black Dog can be beaten. As Winston Churchill said, “If you find yourself going through hell, keep going.”

What stats have to say…

Depression: let’s talk

To find out more information and what you can do to help visit…

http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2017/toolkit.pdf?ua=1

 

Free training for Mental Health Awareness Week

To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, Harmless are running a number of free upcoming workshops that have been commissioned by Nottingham City Council and Nottingham City CCG in line with the Wellness in Mind Adult Mental Health Strategy. Places are extremely limited, so booking quickly is advised.

 

Mental Health First Aid Lite (MHFA Lite)

Wednesday 11th May 2016

9:30pm -12:30pm

 

MHFA Lite is an introductory mental health awareness course. You’ll receive a MHFA Lite manual that you can take away with you at the end of the session and also an attendance certificate from MHFA England.

 

Mental Health Community Workshop – Carers and Citizens

Friday 13th May 2016

1:30pm – 3:30pm

 

These workshops will focus on how to promote resilience and wellbeing in the community through building of awareness and resilience amongst citizens and carers.

A drop in session will be held after the Community Workshop 3:30pm – 4:30pm staffed by the trainer and a member of our clinical team.

  

For more information, or to book a place onto one of these free workshops, please contact us using the details below:

Email: training@harmless.org.uk

Phone: 0115 934 8445

Please note to be eligible for this training you must live or work in Nottingham city.

Every Colleague Matters Launch

Harmless recently attended Nottingham’s Every Colleague Matters launch, where we were invited to speak about the workshops we will be delivering as part of our commissioning from Nottingham City Council and Nottingham CCG.

We had half an hour slot to share information about these workshops and also to deliver an interactive, 20 minute ‘taster’ session.

I presented information about what we will be delivering, why we are delivering these and also who these workshops are aimed at. We received such a positive response upon sharing this information and the interactive session, delivered by our trainer, Sarah, that I thought it would be valuable to share this information more widely.

We will be delivering Community Workshops, Frontline Workers training, Workplace Training for Managers and also MHFALite

By providing training to specific groups of people, we can directly influence the lives of people with mental health problems and equip Communities, Frontline Workers and Managers with the confidence and skills to respond to mental health problems.

In terms of the Community Workshops, the purpose of these will focus on how to promote resilience and wellbeing in the community through building of awareness and resilience amongst citizens and carers. These workshops will be aimed at volunteers, community care workers, neighbourhood workers etc. These will be a 2 hour workshop, with a drop in after each one, staffed by a Harmless Therapist

The Mental Health Awareness for Frontline Workers workshop will focus on improving skills and confidence to recognise people with mental health problems and offer appropriate support. This will acknowledge that Frontline Workers will also have needs around their own mental health and encourage self-care and emotional resilience. These workshops will be aimed at frontline workers such as reception staff, security officers, police, ambulance crew, job centre staff etc. These workshops will be half a day

The Workplace training for Managers will examine how practical support can be provided to create an environment that is healthy for staff and promote interventions to raise awareness. This training will be aimed at CEO’s and Senior Management in a range of organisations within Nottingham City and will take place over half a day

Finally, we will be delivering MHFALite. MHFALite is an introductory mental health awareness course and will be delivered by a fully qualified MHFA trainer. The course introduces ALGEE – a unique memory tool that can be used to provide mental health first aid. Delegates that attend will receive an MHFALite manual and also an attendance certificate from MHFA England.

All of these workshops have a big focus on reducing stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health and also raises hope that recovery is likely and possible.

For more information on any of these courses and upcoming dates, please email;

Sophie@harmless.org.uk

Or

training@harmless.org.uk

Our trainer, Sarah, talks about Mental Health and Stereotypes

In line with Nottingham’s Mental Health Awareness Weeks I thought I would spend some time discussing stereotypes. As well as being a Specialist Trainer for Harmless, a Personal Assistant for a young adult with Autism and having an MSc in Psychological-Well-being, I was also diagnosed in my late teens with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

The funny thing is if you had asked me when I was younger if I had a mental health condition I would have laughed in your face and said, “Doesn’t everyone suffer with anxiety?” When you hear the word anxiety disorder you can’t help but picture somebody separate to ‘average’ society…different to your average human being.

This is me here…………………………….and Average Society all the way over here.

It is expected that someone with anxiety should be weak looking, trembling, fidgety and even perhaps a little unkempt. The fact was I looked like none of those things. In fact the most common remark made to me when I did let someone know I suffered with anxiety was, “But you don’t you look anxious!?”

Like an iceberg the majority of mental health conditions are hidden beneath water. Stereotypes are found in all aspects of life and you don’t have to be a horrible, closed-minded person to believe in them.  The truth is everyone is affected by stereotypes, including myself. Otherwise how else do they form?

What separates us from being close-minded and ignorant is that we chose to be aware of our stereotypes and remind ourselves that these images can be misleading. For example, if I asked you to think of a Teacher I bet I could ‘telepathically’ guess that you will have chosen a female in glasses even perhaps with her hair in a bun? The key to breaking stereotypes is being aware. This is the stereotype but I chose not to let this image limit my view of the world. So my advice to you this week is to think about the stereotypes you hold and what you can do to break them?

Our trainer, Sarah, Speaks about attending the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network Mental Health Innovation Exchange Conference

Yesterday I stepped in and attended the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network Mental Health Innovation Exchange. Squinting through the bright lights and breathing through the nerves, I looked across at the sea of faces in front me and it was uplifting to know we were all working towards the same goal. Our innovation may be varied and are personalities or backgrounds different but what shone through strong and clear was our passion for continual change and hope; for a better future, a more supportive society and a voice for those unheard.

I felt honoured to be speaking on behalf of Harmless about the Tomorrow Project. Listening to Caroline, our CEO, and other members of our team it is evident that they all care, implicitly, including myself. But, it isn’t just our team who can see The Tomorrow Project’s significance, many professionals also acknowledge the work we do and the support we deliver (Thank you Keith Waters) and it is crucial we continue to fortify this. The Tomorrow Project saves lives and by spreading the message, speaking at conferences such as this one, ensures that we too our continually working towards innovation and hope.

So please help save lives and donate: https://localgiving.com/charity/harmless

Taking Care of your Mental Health

It is Nottingham Mental health Awareness weeks and we want to share with you ways to look after your mental health.

Mental health is the emotional and spiritual resilience which allows us to enjoy life and survive pain, disappointment and sadness. It is a positive sense of well being and an underlying belief in our own, and other’s dignity and worth.

We can look after our mental health in so many different ways such as:

  • Talking about your feelings, this can help you to cope with your problems. Being listened to can help you feel supported and not alone.
  • Eating well, there are strong links between what we eat and how we feel, eat at least 3 meals each day and drink plenty of water.
  • Keeping in touch with family and friends, spend time developing your relationship with your family and friends or join a group this will help you feel connected.
  • Being active, participating in regular activity such as walking in the fresh air, gardening or any other exercise can release chemicals in your brain, which makes you feel good; it can boost your self esteem.
  • Developing a skill can give you a sense of achievement. Doing something you are good at, something you can lose yourself in, so there is no room in your head for worries.
  • Accept who you are, we are all different and all unique, accepting who you are increases your confidence and self esteem.
  • Take time to relax, unwind and enjoy yourself.

If you would like to talk to someone about mental health, Harmless run regular drop in sessions where you can meet with one of our trained therapists. The next sessions are as follows:

  • Young person drop-in or those aged 21 years and under: Wednesday 21st October between 11am and 12pm. 
  • Adult drop-in for those aged 18 and over: Wednesday 28th October, between 3:30pm and 4:30pm.