Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree…

We would love to re-home all the Christmas Trees in our Forest of hope to people in need or distress. If anyone would like a Christmas tree please send us an email at info@harmless.org.uk to reserve the tree and you can collect Friday 15 December.

 

We want to do all we can to bring as much joy and hope to anyone in need. If you’d like a tree from our forest of hope, please let us know.

Ways to contact:

info@harmless.org.uk or 0115 880 0280

In the Press: ‘Pupils are so distressed that they think the only way out is death’

Teenagers are attempting suicide because they can’t cope with the stress, and that is partly down to the fact that education has become a conveyor belt of expectations, warns one parent

My 18-year-old daughter has just texted me to say that one of her friends has tried to kill herself and my daughter is on her way to the hospital to see her. Earlier this year, another one of her friends killed himself, despite embarking on what was to have been a happy and exciting gap year.

And at the weekend, my son went to visit his friend who had tried to kill herself and is still in a psychiatric hospital, where I hope she is receiving the help she needs. Her sudden absence at school was unexplained and he had been trying to get in touch with her for weeks. Once he found out what had happened, he immediately made arrangements to see her and spend time with her. She is 16.

One family, two children, three friends who reached crisis.

And our family cannot be the exception. I just hope it is not the norm. The pressure on children is immense. The endless testing, the feeling that if you fail your GCSEs your life is over, that if you fail your A levels you are useless, that if you get anything less than a 2:1 you might as well not have bothered going to university. All ratchet up the pressure to achieve, the guilt, the feeling that you should always be working. No wonder teenagers drink themselves to oblivion or take drugs, seeking to escape by other means.

It starts at nursery, the constant comparisons, the measuring of achievement, the target setting. And all fun is sucked out of learning by the time you are 7, very aware of the stress of Sats and the pressure on your teacher. Children pick up signals from their role models. They know the stakes. And then through the rest of primary school, to Year 6, where the school’s reputation is on the line, to GCSEs, on which your future life is said to be riding, and on to A levels, where you are berated for not working hard enough almost as a constant for the two-year duration. The pressure of A-level results day is such that another girl at a nearby school killed herself on the day – before even opening the envelope. And, of course, her achievements were stellar.

Young people in crisis
Urgent action is needed nationwide for change. Change in how we assess children, change in the support available to them, and change in how easy that support is to access. Schools do their best, but recent reports have said that children are waiting up to 18 months to be seen by the NHS for mental health problems. This is too long. A year and a half can be an eternity to a young person who is struggling. And it is an absurdity to a young person in crisis. It should not be a surprise that desperate acts are becoming more common. The key to stopping any destructive behaviour, be it self-harm or self-criticism, is action – and action is what we need now. Young Minds has outlined what the government should include in its forthcoming Green Paper on children’s mental health. The government must listen to the good sense talked by an organisation that works at the front line of children in crisis. And that is the key. These are children. Children who are so distressed that they think the only way out is death.

We must help our teenagers develop resilience, a skin thick enough for them to survive living in the eye of social media, and optimism about their future. In Brexit Britain, where many teenagers feel betrayed, optimism is hard to come by, but social media can serve many purposes, including one of support and camaraderie. I have not met a friend of my children’s who did not look out for their fellow teens and who was not there when needed. Behind every teenage selfie is someone capable of compassion and good sense.

This is not the snowflake generation. This is a generation of children who have had to learn to live in the critical eye of the social network, with the constant comparisons, with the pressure always to be on point. The commodification of education has created a conveyor belt of expectations, and they believe that if you do not meet those then forget it, your life has no value. Play up, play the game, or game over.

Our children are worth more than this and we should value them for what they can bring to the world. The distress some of them live with cannot be ignored – we must acknowledge it and act now to give them the future they deserve.

Karl Ingram is a pseudonym. He is a parent of teenage children in London

Link to the original blog: https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/pupils-are-so-distressed-they-think-only-way-out-death

 

Would you like to work for Harmless as part of our clinical team?

We are currently recruiting for a Specialist Therapist to join the Harmless team. The deadline for applications is Monday 27th November 2017 at 12pm, with interviews to take place in the week commencing 4th December 2017.

To download the job description, please click here.

To download an application form, please click here.

JOB TITLE: Specialist Therapist

HOURS: Up to 37.5 hours per week

SALARY: £23,250 per annum

START DATE: 8th January 2018

This position has been funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

Harmless are pleased to offer an exciting opportunity to join our passionate team and help us save lives.  We are looking for a dynamic individual, who is willing to develop their skills; work outside the box and challenge themselves in order to do whatever is required to help people attain recovery.

This role is particularly well suited to a therapist early in their career looking for a long term opportunity to develop as a specialist therapist.

Application Deadline: 27th November 2017 at 12pm.

Interviews will be held in Nottingham w/c 4th December 2017.

Please send your completed application form by the deadline to info@harmless.org.uk.

If you have any questions regarding the role or the application process, please contact us by calling 0115 880 0280 or email info@harmless.org.uk.

Focus on you: a blog from orlaghslittlecorner

I feel like we all must do it. Compare ourselves to others I mean. Looking at their achievements and how far they’ve come, how appealing their life looks and all the things they have got and have done. But you gotta stop that. Seriously.  

Comparison is the thief of joy. 

It truly is! Whilst you’re comparing you life to someone’s else’s you will always feel lame. There may always be someone who seems to have more than you, but don’t forget that actually your life to someone else will look amazing compared to theirs. It’s a constant battle of people comparing themselves to each other. And it’s got to stop. 

Everyone’s path has been/is different in life. Some people have been through a hell of a lot, family issues, personal issues, health issues -you name it! But I’m pretty positive in the fact that every person you could ask would have some story, some bad times in their life, so you can’t let yours be a comparison.

Celebrate people’s joy and how far they have come and be happy for them without comparing yourself!

You will never be able to see how far you have come whilst you are doing that whole ‘compare yourself to others’ thing. Take time to stop and look and realise all the amazing things you have done. How much you have achieved. Compare yourself to yourself. Look at how much you have done, how far you have traveled, how much experience you have gained in a year or 3 years, 5 or 10!

By comparing yourself to yourself you can also set some realistic goals based on where you are in life (and not by where society says you should be!). You know what goals you have to set to make a dream become a plan and whatever time frame that is that fits you, that is the perfect amount.

Throw into the mix some self-care, some you-time, some breaks from life and you will hopefully have a better look on things! ✌🏼

Link to the blog and for more wonderful blogs written by orlaghslittlecorner.wordpress.com

 

 

In the News today: The NSPCC is calling on the Government to shift the focus of children and young people’s mental health services towards early intervention

More than 5,000 children in Derbyshire have been referred to specialist NHS mental health services in the last two years, the NSPCC has revealed.

The NSPCC obtained new figures via a Freedom of Information request to NHS Trusts in England which found the equivalent of 150 children a day from across the country were rejected for treatment between 2015 and 2017.

In Derbyshire, a total of 2,673 cases were referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) between 2015 and 2016. Of those, 497 were not accepted for treatment.

Between 2016 and 2017, 2,358 cases in Derbyshire were referred to CAMHS and 376 of these were not accepted for treatment.

However, the information obtained by the NSPCC revealed that all of the cases in Derbyshire which were rejected by CAMHS were referred to other services.

The NSPCC is calling on the Government to shift the focus of children and young people’s mental health services towards early intervention, to ensure that young people’s mental health does not have to reach crisis point before they are able to get help.

On average, children in Derbyshire are waiting around six weeks, or 32 days, to see a specialist after their referral being accepted.

The findings follow news last month that the NSPCC’s Childline delivered a record number of counselling sessions to children reporting suicidal feelings in 2016/17. Mental and emotional health is now the most common reason for a child to contact Childline, with the service carrying out 63,622 counselling sessions in 2016/17.

NSPCC chief executive, said: “It is desperately sad to see so many young people facing distress around mental health issues being forced to wait months for assessment by CAMHS, many of whom are then rejected for treatment altogether. This risks leaving them in limbo while their condition potentially reaches crisis point.

“We recognise the hard work of mental health professionals in trying to help young people get their lives back on track. However, too many children who need help are struggling access support and treatment which can help them to recover. The Government’s upcoming Green Paper on mental health must urgently evaluate the early support systems available to young people to ensure that no child is left to suffer in silence.”

Link to full article here: http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/local-news/more-5000-derbyshire-children-referred-806965

A big thank you to Children In Need from Harmless for funding our young people self harm and suicide prevention support services.

Tonight (Friday 17th November 2017) sees the return of BBC Children in Need’s appeal show – an annual event which looks to raise money that will be used to make a real difference to the lives of disadvantaged children across the UK.

Harmless received £109,489, over 3 years, from Children In Need in 2015 to provide therapeutic support to children and young people at risk of self harm or suicide. Through counselling and support, we use the money to reduce incidents of self harm, providing coping strategies and improved psychological wellbeing.

Here is a short testimony written by a young person who has received support services funded by CIN:

”When I went to Harmless, at first it was to keep everyone else happy. My parents were worried about me and life felt as though it was falling apart. Then I realised it was for me. The people at Harmless wanted to help me find my way and figure out what I needed. They didn’t tell me what to do or what I should be like. They helped me figure out what to do different. 

When I first went, I had stopped seeing friends. I didn’t care about much. I just felt rubbish all the time and I was dreading the future and didn’t see the point. 

Now it’s different and I feel so glad that I went and was pushed to go.

I felt hopeless before but now I am looking forwards. I didn’t see my friends and felt as though everyone hated me but now I am happy with the friendship group that I have and I am starting to plan a future where I can help other people. Hopefully one day I can work for somewhere like Harmless.”

On behalf the Harmless team, I would like to thank Children in Need and their wonderful team for the continued support that they have given to Harmless and the children and young people that access our support service(s). We wish everyone all the best and hope that they have another record breaking evening.

Darren Fox
Business and Operations Manager

To view an animation created by BBC Children in Need and Harmless, please click Bronwyn’s Story.

Watch Appeal Show 2017 on BBC One from 7:30pm on Friday 17th November

You can donate to Children in Need by clicking here

To learn more about our self harm support services, please contact Harmless by emailing info@harmless.org.uk

Save a life this Christmas!

Please support our Christmas Appeal. if you were thinking of donating instead of sending cards, or you’d like to do something good for someone instead of buying a gift – then please think of us.

Each year we receive more and more requests for help and hear increasingly tragic stories of loss, yet we still have no statutory funding for our work.

For us to even think about delivering the same level of support in 2018 we are going to need your help.

Please share our appeal far and wide. However little or much you can afford, every penny will help. Please visit the following link if you would like to make a donation:

https://localgiving.org/appeal/savealife/?preview=1267

In the News: Children and young people with mental health problems waiting up to 18 months before they get help, finds report.

Investigators find youngsters are facing ‘agonising waits’ for treatment.

The Government has been accused of “neglecting” children’s mental health after it emerged some youngsters are waiting more than a year to be treated.

A major review by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) of mental health services for young people has found that vulnerable children are facing “agonising waits” for treatment, with one young person who spoke to investigators waiting for 18 months.

During prolonged waits, children and young people are unable to access the support they need, causing their mental health to deteriorate further, with some starting to self-harm, become suicidal or drop out of school during the wait to receive support, the report found.

The findings also showed that even when children do access treatment, the services were not always adequate to respond to their needs, with more than a third (39 per cent) of specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) across the UK currently requiring improvement.

There is also regional variation in the estimated prevalence of mental health problems in children and young people, with an estimated 8 per cent of children aged 5 to 16 years old in the Thames Valley area suffering from a mental health condition, compared with 11 per cent in London, investigators found.

The report has prompted calls for the Government to ring-fence mental health budgets so that money reaches front line services and to set maximum waiting times.

Responding to the findings, Barbara Keeley MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health, said: “This report reveals the Tory Government’s abject failure of children and young people in urgent need of mental health treatment.

“It is a scandal that as a result of the Tories’ neglect of child and adolescent mental health over a third of services need to improve access, with some children having to wait as long as eighteen months to be treated.

“Labour will continue to call on the Tory Government to invest in and ring-fence mental health budgets as Labour pledged at the General Election, so that money reaches the underfunded services on the front line.”

Former Liberal Democrat Care Minister Norman Lamb echoed her concerns, saying: “If the current Government had shown leadership in driving these changes and ensuring that funding was being spent where it was needed, we might have seen more progress.

“The Prime Minister makes all the right noises about improving mental health care, now she needs to translate these words into action. Children deserve better.”

The report comes as child mental health charities and campaigners warned that young people are not receiving adequate mental health provision.

Recent research by the Children’s Society’s found that 30,000 children were being turned away from mental health services every year and not receiving any support or treatment at all.

It also found that children missed 157,000 mental health appointments last year, with many missed appointments never followed up by health professionals to check that the children concerned were safe and well.

Matthew Reed, chief executive of the Children’s Society, said in response to the CQC report: “Despite increased attention and investment, services remain fragmented and are increasingly overstretched, and too many children are suffering as a result.

 

Read the full article here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/mental-health-children-waiting-times-18-months-care-quality-commission-report-a8021941.html

In the media: How shame can take a toll on your emotional health

The June 2015 cover of Women’s Health magazine featured a slender Gwyneth Paltrow and the words “BIKINI BODY In 2 Weeks! Tight Butt, Lean Legs, These Abs!” with an arrow pointing to Paltrow’s washboard middle. Covers like these have drawn their share of criticism. The idiom “bikini body” suggests there is only one kind of person who can fit into a bikini. It’s an example of body shaming.

That term can be imprecise. What exactly is shame anyway? And can we cope with it?

Author and academic Jennifer Jacquet defines the concept in her book “Is Shame Necessary?”: “Shaming, which is separate from feeling ashamed, is a form of punishment, and like all punishment, it is used to enforce norms.”

Stray from society’s expectations and risk being shamed. Jacquet notes that shame differs from guilt because, in “contrast to shame, which aims to hold individuals to the group standard, guilt’s role is to hold individuals to their own standards.” Sometimes shame can be healthy. Sometimes it can be harmful. Its value is a function of the norm being enforced.

If we demean a friend, it is reasonable for us to feel ashamed—we violated the norm of decency. As psychologist Brené Brown said in a TED talk, “We’re pretty sure that the only people who don’t experience shame are people who have no capacity for connection or empathy.”

Shame becomes harmful if it’s used to enforce an unhealthy norm, and there is no shortage of unhealthy norms. Type, “I feel ashamed of my” into Google, and the search engine will autocomplete with “body,” “job,” “past,” or “sexuality.”

Brown explained that unhealthy norms tend to be gendered—to conform to female norms, she said, women must be “nice, thin, modest, and use all available resources for appearance.” For men, it’s more simple: avoid acting weak. Men are expected to control their emotions, prioritize work, and pursue status. We are prone to feeling ashamed when we stray from these norms.

Shame can be most harmful when it becomes internalized; when it shifts from being about what we’ve done to being about who we are. Psychologists refer to “toxic shame.” as the feeling that we are wholly inadequate and fundamentally unworthy of love. [Editor’s note: when I feel like this, I turn to the Self-Esteem pack. It helps.]

Toxic shame can take a huge toll on our emotional health. “Shame is highly, highly correlated with addiction, depression, violence, aggression, bullying, suicide, eating disorders,” Brown says. The antidote to feeling shame is a willingness to be vulnerable, Brown says. To be human is to be imperfect— to have scars and stretch marks, and to cry when sad or afraid.

Brown suggests we seek the empathy of friends and loved ones. “If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment,” she explains. “If you put the same amount in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive. The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too.” Importantly, people also can work to change harmful norms. In a 2015 online survey, Women’s Health asked readers what words or phrases they might avoid printing on the magazine’s cover. Options included “slim,” “lean,” and “bikini body.” Respondents overwhelmingly objected to “bikini body.”

In a sense, readers chose to enforce a new norm. In their determination, the magazine should encourage health, fitness, and a positive body image. Wrote one reader, “I hate how women’s magazines emphasize being skinny or wearing bikinis as the reason to be healthy.”

In an open letter responding to the survey, editor-in-chief Amy Keller Laird said the term “bikini body” would be banned from the magazine’s cover. “Dear ‘Bikini Body,’” she wrote. “You’re actually a misnomer, not to mention an unintentional insult: You imply that a body must be a certain size in order to wear a two-piece. Any body—every body—is a bikini body.”

Link to full blog: https://www.headspace.com/blog/2017/11/02/shame-emotional-health/

In the news: The rise of mental health in hip-hop lyrics

Hip-hop is having a watershed moment for mental health. In the last two years, some of the biggest rappers have peeled back the curtain on their personal lives to shine a light on their struggles with mental health issues.

Take Kanye West’s album “The Life of Pablo”, where he mentions both seeing a psychiatrist and taking Lexapro, an antidepressant used to treat depression and anxiety disorders. Or Kid Cudi, who publicly announced he’d checked into rehab for depression and suicidal urges, writing that “anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember and I never leave the house because of it.” Even rap veteran Jay-Z has advocated the importance of therapy in recent months.

In the midst of hip-hop’s dive into mental health awareness, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many mainstream artists have also opened up about practicing meditation. Big Sean, Vic Mensa, Mac Miller, Earl Sweatshirt, J. Cole, and Drake, to name a few, have credited meditation as impacting areas of their lives and creative output. And, of course, Def Jam Recordings label founders Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons attribute much of their success to meditation.

“[T]he person I am was shaped by the experience of the years of meditation,” says Rubin, who produced albums for everyone from Beastie Boys to Kanye. “I feel like I can see deeply into things in a way that many of the people around me don’t, or can’t.”

“Meditation is a guaranteed way to not only dip into, but stay connected with, your creative spirit,” echoes Simmons. “People have this misconception that meditation will chill you out and make you soft, but the opposite is true. I meditate every morning when I wake up and almost the second my session is over I’m eager to tackle whatever is on my plate for that day.”

But perhaps the rap game’s biggest meditation advocate is one that currently holds the title as Greatest Rapper Alive: Kendrick Lamar.

Kendrick has plugged meditation on four (!) of his tracks. Take these lyrics from “untitled 03 | 05.28.2013”:

Meditation is a must, it don’t hurt if you try
See you thinking too much, plus you too full of yourself
Worried about your career, you ever think of your health?

In a 2016 interview for GQ Style, Kendrick elaborates on his meditation routine:

“I have to have at least 30 minutes to myself,” he says. “If it’s not on the daily, every other day, to just sit back, close my eyes, and absorb what’s going on. You know, the space that I’m in [and] how I’m feeling at the moment.”

Kendrick cites the frenetic busyness of his career as a motivator to practice being more present. “When you in music—and everybody knows this—the years are always cut in half, because you always have something to do,” he says. “It just goes and then you miss out on your moment because you’re so in the moment you didn’t know the moment was going on.”

After realizing that music was consuming his thoughts and attention, Kendrick turned to meditation for time and space away from his work: “That 30 minutes helps me to totally zone out and not think about my next lyric. You know? It gives me a re-start, a jump start, a refresh. It lets me know why I’m here, doing what I’m doing.”

Competition is ingrained in hip-hop’s DNA; there’s tremendous pressure to claim the “best rapper alive” throne by breaking the mold on verbal gymnastics, pushing artistic boundaries, and resonating with audiences through culture and emotion. Slap on deadlines from record labels, plus scrutiny and sensationalism from the public eye—it’s a paralyzing weight for anyone to endure.

“There’s a great deal of bullshit that people think about when they make music, things that don’t matter,” Rubin says. “[Meditation] kind of wipes that away, and you focus on the real job at hand, as opposed to thinking about what the management wants, or what the record company’s saying, or what somebody at a radio station might think.”

While the dusty notion that hip-hop is all about cars, money, and clothes may still ring true for certain acts, there’s no denying that the genre has evolved. By unmasking both the stigmas attached to mental health issues and stereotypes about meditation, the rap game is well set up for a healthier and happier road ahead—for artists and fans alike.

Link to full blog here: https://www.headspace.com/blog/2017/10/13/mental-health-hip-hop/