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

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.

Would you like to join the Harmless team as a Specialist Therapist?

We are currently recruiting for a Specialist Therapist to join the Harmless team. The deadline for applications is Monday 14th August 2017 at 12pm, with interviews to take place in the week commencing 21st August 2017.

For an application form and job description, or for more information please email admin@harmless.org.uk or call 0115 934 8445 (admin line only). Please include the job title you are applying for in your email.

 

JOB TITLE: Specialist Therapist

HOURS: Up to 37.5 hours per week

SALARY: £23,250 per annum

START DATE: 1st September 2017

This position has been funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

 

MAIN PURPOSE AND SCOPE OF THE JOB

  • To provide therapy for 12 to 24 weeks across Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire to clients who experience mental health problems, depression and anxiety, and/or that self harm or are at risk of self harm and suicide.
  • To be responsible for fully assessing individual needs, implementing/agreeing care plan or equivalent and developing a safety plan.
  • Engage in activities that promote Psychological wellbeing (including maintain/promote physical and mental health); Social Functioning (including social activity, employment and education); Resilience (looking at helping an individual cope and resolve some of their difficulties); Help-Seeking (Ensuring individuals are able to access support from a variety of sources and ultimately reduces risk to that individual including self-harm and suicide).
  • To work collaboratively and assertively with the communities and environments where a person is already in contact to provide information, containment and enhance a collaborative recovery approach for the person experiencing distress and self harm.
  • To support the clinical and support services manager to uphold the short term, medium term and long term organisational and clinical and support services objectives.

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

Have you heard of mindfulness?


Mindfulness meditation consists of focusing your full attention on your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Focusing on each breath in this way allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise in your mind and, little by little, to let go of struggling with them. You come to realise that thoughts come and go of their own accord; that you are not your thoughts. You can watch as they appear in your mind, seemingly from thin air, and watch again as they disappear, like a soap bubble bursting. You come to the profound understanding that thoughts and feelings (including negative ones) are transient. They come and they go, and ultimately, you have a choice about whether to act on them or not.

 

Benefits of mindfulness

Stress less

Research suggests that in-person Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs may help manage stress. In fact, a systematic review of 17 MBSR studies found the program to be effective in reducing psychological and physiological symptoms of stress.

Sleep better

A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials for insomnia found that eight weeks of in-person meditation training significantly improved total waking time and sleep quality in patients with insomnia.

Happier, healthier relationships

A study evaluating the benefits of an in-person mindfulness-based relationship enhancement program suggests that mindfulness enhances couples’ levels of relationship satisfaction, autonomy, closeness and acceptance of each other, while reducing relationship distress. In fact, three months after participating in the study, couples were still experiencing these improvements.

Manage anxiety

Anxiety currently affects about one in fourteen people worldwide. That’s 7.3% of the total world population. A systematic review of in-person meditation training found that 69% of the studies analyzed showed meditation practice alleviated symptoms of anxiety.

Sharpen concentration

Findings suggest that meditating for just four days is enough to improve novice meditators’ working memory, executive functions and their ability to process visual information.

Have you heard of Headspace app? It’s an app that’s built for guided mindfulness meditation.

Headspace has one mission: to improve the health and happiness of the world.

You can try Headspace for yourself and learn the essentials of meditation and mindfulness with the free Basics pack. If you enjoy it, you have the option to subscribe. Once you do, you’ll have bite-sized minis for when you’re short on time, singles to add some extra mindfulness to your day, and hundreds of meditations for everything from stress to sleep.

The techniques used within the Headspace app have been refined and developed over many centuries. Their aim is to cultivate awareness and compassion so we can better understand both the mind and the world around us.

Research onto the effectiveness of the app:

https://www.headspace.com/science/meditation-research