National Friendship day

August 6th is National Friendship day and I wanted to share with you the important role friendship can play on our mental health.

Recently a friend sent me an article titled: “To the friends who loved me unconditionally when I hit rock bottom”, and it made me consider the powerful and often unappreciated role friendships play in 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.

The article also made 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.

In the UK in 2015 there were 6,188 suicides. 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 6,188, that’s 6,188 more deaths than there should have been. Ultimately this shows us the need for support, alongside the need to challenge stigma around mental health and that starts with friends.

Let friend’s know its okay to talk…you’re there for them to listenwithout 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 cues 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.

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

As Sunday 6th is August is national friendship day, why not combine the day with self-care Sunday. Take part in some self-care with your friend and let them know how much you value them and appreciate their friendship.

Did someone say national chocolate chip cookie day?

4th August marks National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day and a day we are certainly in favour for.

We decided to take a further look into this and found that baking is often associated with home comforts. Not only do we enjoy the process, it’s also a means of escape as we are just focussing on the activity at hand. Baking acts as a form of mindfulness, giving the mind breathing space and really does focus on self-care. This is without even mentioning eating all the delicious baked goods! What we also wanted to consider was the deeper, therapeutic effect baking has on our mental health, heres what we found…

Previous winner of The Great British Bake Off, John Whaite says: “Baking helps lift my depression. It can’t cure it but it helps.” John was diagnosed with depression twelve years ago and explains that baking is a way to turn negative energy into something constructive. He found it an effective way to manage his condition.

“When I’m in the kitchen, measuring the amount of sugar, flour or butter I need for a recipe or cracking the exact number of eggs – I am in control. That’s really important as a key element of my condition is a feeling of no control.”
We often bake for people as an expression of love, whether to cheer them up, celebrate an occasion or ‘just because’ and because of this ‘baking’ takes on a more important meaning than just creating something tasty to eat – it becomes a means of communicating.

At Harmless we love to bake! And we often do bake sales to support our life saving work. If you fancy coming on board and holding a bake sale we have a wonderful fundraising pack to support you.

All you need to do is send us an email to info@harmless.org.uk

In the news: Number of university students with extenuating circumstances for mental health problems ‘soars’

The number of university students requiring special consideration in exams due to mental health problems has soared in the past five years, new figures suggest.

A Freedom of Information request from The Times found special arrangements were put in place for 218 Cambridge University students last year – nearly three times the figure for 2011.

At Imperial College the number this year was 111, compared to just 11 five years previously, and 167 undergraduate students sitting exams at Sunderland University were granted the same help (previously 96).

Special consideration is granted on a cases-by-case basis for students whose work might have suffered as a result of extenuating circumstances – for instance, a family death or ill health.

This might mean students receive help with extra time to complete papers, are given second attempts at sitting an exam or are allowed to submit essays rather than entering an exam hall.

A survey undertaken by the National Union of Students in 2015 suggested as many as 78 per cent of students had experienced mental health issues during the previous year.

More recently, data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) revealed that a record number of students had dropped out of courses early during the 2014-15 academic year as a direct results of mental ill-health.

With the evidence that mental health is a growing issue within campus, a real focus on supporting students are pre-ventative works needs to take place.

For the full article: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/number-of-university-students-mental-health-problems-illness-claiming-special-circumstances-a7831791.html

Nottingham Pride 2017

The celebration of life, love and liberty isn’t just about parades and partying. It’s about the LGBTQ+ community being visible and belonging to a community, a town, a city, a nation and the world.

Celebrate Nottingham Pride 2017 with a fun annual parade and celebrations taking place in various venues in the Hockley area of Nottingham.

This year Nottingham Pride promises to be a street party to remember in the heart of the city’s Hockley area (Broad Street and Heathcoat Street) with our Main Stage on Carlton Street.

We will be marking the 50th Anniversary since homosexuality was decriminalised and we will be celebrating families – in whatever way that means for you.

Where
Our fabulous Pride March starts at 11.30am meeting on Castle Gate  – expect drums, marching bands and (fingers crossed) maybe the first ever Nottingham Pride float.

When
Saturday 29 July 2017 from 11.30am – 6pm

Youth Mental Health First Aid (MHFAYouth) Training

BOOK NOW

Email: training@harmless.org.uk or

Telephone:  0115 9348446

Dates:  Thursday 31st August & Friday 1st September

Times: 9 am until 5 pm (both days)

Location: Nottingham

Certified course & MHFAYouth Manual and workbook provided 

Youth Mental Health First Aid (Youth MHFA) is an internationally recognised educational training course. Youth MHFA is the help given to a young person experiencing a mental health problem before professional help is obtained. MHFA is designed to teach people how to identify, understand and help a young person who may be developing a mental health issue. In the same way we learn physical first aid, Youth MHFA teaches how to recognise those crucial warning signs and respond appropriately to signs of emotional and mental ill health. By completing this course it will develop yours skills, abilities and confidence in being able to support individuals with a range of mental health conditions.

Youth MHFA is a course aimed at people who come into contact with young people aged 8 to 18. The 2 day workshop will be delivered by a fully trained certified MHFA Trainer.

Course Aims:

  • Preserve life
  • Prevent deterioration of any injury or illness
  • Promote healing and recovery
  • Provide comfort to the ill or injured.

This course is split into 4 manageable chunks, these are:

  • Youth Mental Health First Aid
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Suicide and Psychosis
  • Self Harm and Eating Disorders.

In each section you will learn how to:

  • Preserve life where a young person may be a danger to themselves or others.
  • Provide help to prevent the emotional or mental health problem developing into a more serious state
  • Promote the recovery of good mental health
  • Provide comfort to a young person experiencing a mental health problem
  • Raise awareness of mental health issues in the community
  • Reduce stigma and discrimination.

Where can I find more information or book on the course?

For more information about our Youth MHFA training or to book a place on the course please contact Harmless and ask for Sarah Kessling our Training Team Leader, or Val Stevens our Youth MHFA Trainer).

Email: training@harmless.org.uk or

Telephone:  0115 9348446

Dates:  Thursday 31st August & Friday 1 st September

Times: 9 am until 5 pm (both days)

Training: Location Nottingham

 

Certificate and resources for each delegate upon completion

Please note: Attendance on both days of the workshop is mandatory.

What do we mean by self care?

The actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness.’

July 24th was International Self Care day and here are our suggestions on how you can get started on your own #selfcare

Connect

Good friendships play a significant role in promoting our overall health. Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Connecting with the people around you can play an important role in this as well. Here’s some tips to make new connections this Mental Health Awareness Week:

Talk to someone instead of sending an email. Or go the extra mile and write a letter, they are a lot more personal.

Speak to someone new, smile at everyone

Ask how someone’s weekend was and really listen when they tell you

Give a colleague a lift to work or share the journey home with them (better for them, for you and the environment, triple win!)

Get physical

We often talk about the mind and body as though they are completely separate – but they aren’t. The mind can’t function unless your body is working properly – but it also works the other way. The state of your mind affects your body. Our physical health and mental health really do need equal importance.

Exercise effects chemicals in the brain, like dopamine and serotonin. Brain cells use these chemicals to communicate with each other, so by exercising you release these and they will positively affect your mood and thinking.

Tips on getting physical:

-  Swap the lift for the stairs! < simple…but effective.

-  During your lunch break take a walk, fresh air & exercise is perfect

-  Get off the bus one stop earlier

-  Meet up with friends to go to the park

-  Yoga before bed

-  Join a sports team

Be aware

Being mindful of your surroundings can strengthen the mind and broaden awareness. Starting to practice mindfulness, 10 minutes per day, is known to have significantly positive health benefits.  Heightened awareness also enhances your self-understanding and allows you to make positive choices based on your own values and motivations.

Our suggestions:

-  Clear away clutter

-  Be conscious of the people around you, their emotions and the impact on yourself

-  Visit a new coffee shop

- Ask a friend to meet for a coffee and catch up

-  Leave 5 minutes earlier to walk and talk a longer walk, notice your surroundings

-  Notice sounds, smells, overall feelings. Don’t think too much about them, just be aware and note them in your mind

Keep learning!

The more we learn, the more we grow, and that in turn benefits not only ourselves but others around us.  Continuing to learn throughout our lives boosts our self-esteem and encourages social interaction which overall promotes positive wellbeing.

Few ideas to get you started:

-  Sign up for a class: a new language perhaps

-  Teach yourself a new skill: pompom making, knitting or baking? (our favourite!)

-  Join a life drawing class

- Enjoy a hot bubble bath with a bath bomb and watch the colours develop

Volunteer

Volunteering to help others in the community will boost confidence, make a difference, you’ll connect with others and make new friends. You’ll become part of a new community, whilst learning a new skill and having fun.

Please contact us is you would like to fundraise for Harmless and The Tomorrow Project by emailing chloe@harmless.org.uk or call 0115 934 8445.

Stop saying yes when you want to say no

We’ve all been there…that moment when you’re asked to do something you don’t want to do or even have the time to do….you want to say no….but before you know it, the word ‘yes’ has already come out your mouth.

Don’t worry, you really aren’t alone in that. We’ve been thinking about why we find it so important to please everyone, to the point where we feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Pleasing others can be self-serving. But I wonder if the benefits to saying yes are outweighed by the negative impact on our mental health.

By agreeing to do things that you don’t want to could mean that you are a people pleaser, which is not a bad trait, but can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. People pleasers think about other people’s needs, worry about what other people want or think before they think about their own needs, or what they want. 

Learning to say “no” is is about setting boundaries. Every time you say “yes” to someone, you say “no” to yourself and your priorities and needs. It is far worse to say “yes” then to feel your anxiety building up. Forget about pleasing people. It is more important to please yourself so that you can stay calm and relaxed.

Practice saying “no”. Say it aloud so you can hear the words in your own voice. Say phrases with “no” in them, such as, “No, I can’t do that.”

Never say yes on the spot. Instead say “I’ll get back to you” after you’ve checked if you actually can do it. Or how about “Let me think about it and ill speak to you tomorrow”.

You do not need to say “yes” just because you are capable of doing something. You should say “yes” only if you considered your time availability, other commitments and what you may need to give up to complete the job.

Put your self-care above anything else by spending your time on things that make you happy and on decisions that you want, rather than on what others want. If you don’t set boundaries to what or whom you will say no to, your health is at stake. If you neglect yourself, you will not be able to help your family or those that care about you.

You don’t even need to apologies for saying no.

Remember that your self-worth does not depend on how much you do for other people.

Working hard and working smart

“Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they use it up. The real hero is already home…because they figured out a faster way to get things done.”- Jason Friend & David Heinemeier Hansson

Working hard and working smart are two different things.

Working hard involves commitment, involvement and sincerity it also means working honestly. Working smart refers to being creative and looking for other ways to get the work done faster and easier.

 

For example:

Working hard = Doing the job

Working smart = Getting the job done

 

Working hard = Thinking/planning after doing the job

Working smart = Thinking/planning ahead of the job

 

Working hard = Dedication or doing work without intention about result

Working smart = Always having the end result in view

Smart work is not a substitute of hard work they go hand in hand. You have to work hard to achieve things but if you do the wrong things, you can put all that effort in the wrong direction and end up in the wrong place.

For example, studying for six hours over the weekend might help you prepare for your exam the following week however, you could chose to study for an hour everyday over six days. The length of time spent is the same just the former is hard work and the latter is smart work.

The latter option helps in better retention of what is studied.

Also reading everyday for an hour is an easier goal to achieve than six hours in one day. Hence you are more likely to accomplish your goals simply because the psychological barrier is smaller. Finally, achieving smaller goals has a compound effect. Your overall personality will improve with small and steady progress everyday.

So in other words it is about…

…working harder, smarter.

In the News: How to support a depressed partner while maintaining your own mental health

here is no lightning-bolt moment when you realise you are losing your sense of self; just an absence. When you are caring for someone you love, your wants and needs are supplanted by theirs, because what you want, more than anything, is for them to be well. Looking after a partner with mental health problems – in my case, my husband Rob, who had chronic depression – is complicated.

Like many people, Rob and I were not raised in a society that acknowledged, let alone spoke about, depression. The silence and stigma shaped how he dealt with his illness: indeed, he struggled with the very idea of being ill. He told me fairly early on in our relationship that he had depression, but I had no idea what this entailed – the scale, the scope, the fact that a chronic illness like this can recur every year and linger for months.

I didn’t know what questions to ask. And Rob struggled to articulate how bad it was. He wanted to be “normal” so he expended a lot of energy trying to pretend he was OK when he wasn’t. In 2015, Rob took his life. The reasons are complex, but I believe it was a mix of depression and an addiction to the opiates he used to self-medicate.

Although I am painfully aware of how Rob’s battle ended, I am often asked about how I dealt with it when he was alive. Hindsight is always bittersweet, but I did learn a lot – especially about taking care of my own mental health.

Look after yourself

Feeling that you have to handle everything is natural, but you have to look after yourself or you won’t be any use to your partner. “That pressure to keep it all going can feel too much,” says Dr Monica Cain, counselling psychologist at Nightingale hospital in London. She advises “taking that pressure seriously. It’s something that is very difficult to manage even at the best of times.”

Remember that depression isn’t just a mental illness

It used to drive me mad that Rob wouldn’t get out of bed. It took a while to realise that he “couldn’t” rather than “wouldn’t”. I was so sure he would feel better if he came out for a walk or met his friends, but depression is a physical illness, too. As Dr Cain says: “Physically, depression impacts energy levels. People sometimes feel very tired and want to stay in bed all the time.”

Don’t stop doing the things you love

When your partner can’t get out of bed or come to social engagements with you, there can be anger and frustration. Jayne Hardy, founder of the Blurt Foundation, which helps those affected by depression, says the “feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and unworthiness” depressed people may have mean they often “place loved ones on a pedestal”. She says their skewed perspective means they can “struggle to see what they have to offer you”.

On more than one occasion, Rob said to me: “I feel like I’m ruining your life.” I stopped doing the things I loved and, because I stayed at home with him, it made him feel guilty that I was missing out.

Take charge of admin and finance

People with depression find even mundane tasks, such as opening the post or going to the shops, impossible. Often, they keep their finances hidden, says Dr Cain. “It can feel quite shameful for them to say: ‘I’m finding it difficult to stay on top of it.’” This can be stressful for their partners. As Dr Antonis Kousoulis, a clinician and an assistant director at the Mental Health Foundation, says: “Being the main source of support for a partner with depression can add a lot of pressure.” But it is still better than not knowing what’s happening with your partner’s finances or admin. So, to maintain your own mental health and avoid unnecessary stress, it may be easier to have an agreement with your partner that, when they are ill, you will be in the admin driving seat. And when they feel able, they will sort it out.

Talk to your friends and family

You may fear that friends and family won’t understand. But trying to maintain appearances while supporting your partner is exhausting. “Opening up conversations to friends and families, and getting them involved usually makes a big difference in tackling the stigma and building a circle of support,” says Dr Kousoulis. Hardy adds: “All the advice we would give to someone who is unwell with depression also applies to loved ones who support us: make sure you are supported, reach out for help in understanding more about the illness, keep the channels of communication open; don’t be afraid to ask questions, and prioritise self-care.”

Don’t take it personally

There is the person you fell in love with, who makes you laugh until it hurts – and then there are the bad days, when you are dealing with a stranger who won’t let you in. “Depression can magnify or alter emotions,” says Dr Kousoulis. “A person can have emotional highs and lows in equal degrees, so it is important not to take changes personally.”

This can be easier said than done. I found my own coping mechanisms – therapy, exercise and lowering my expectations of what I needed and wanted from Rob when he was feeling bad. I knew that somewhere inside this person was my husband, so from time to time, I’d leave him postcards telling him how much I loved him. He didn’t react in an effusive way but I know it got through because he kept every one in a memory box.

Above all, hold on to your love. “You won’t always feel as though you are making any progress,” says Hardy. “You, too, may feel helpless at times. But your patience, kindness and understanding make such a difference.”

You can read the full article at this link: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jul/10/how-to-support-a-depressed-partner-while-maintaining-your-own-mental-health?CMP=fb_gu