Mental Health Doesn’t Pick Sides.

Once again the UK is divided (where’s the head-in-hands emoji?), this time it’s about the viability of covid-19 lockdowns, and the battlefield, once again, is the media and social media.

I’m all for people expressing views, but I still can’t get my head around the way people behave and talk to others, especially on platforms like Twitter and Facebook.  It’s what I call ‘The Kindergarten Wars’ (which is unfair on kids in Kindergarten because they’re probably more well behaved than most adults) because the arguments descend into a slagging match, where if you don’t agree with someone they simply tell you you’re stupid or start name calling.

I sometimes wonder what the country would be like if all the ‘armchair’ politicians actually got off their arses and did something?  We now have an army of armchair covid-19 experts, who seem to have all the answers.  A lot of fingers get pointed, and blame allocated, but how many people actually take physical action to change things for the better?

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Success! Becoming a Mental Health First Aider….

A couple of weeks ago I completed a mental health first aid course with MHFA, and while it was a bit of a struggle for me emotionally, I did it, which is a big step considering how my counselling course ended.

The fact that the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed everything on-line has helped me to get back into learning, simply because I can do it from the safety of home.  

In the case of the MHFA course, it also meant that I had a wider choice of trainers, and I definitely struck gold when I found Louise Larkum, but I’ll tell you a bit more about Louise in a moment.

Firstly, about the course itself.  

It was originally created in 2000, in Canberra, Australia, by Betty Kitchener, an educator and mental health consumer, and in partnership with Professor Tony Jorm, a mental health researcher.  In 2003 it was adopted by the Scottish government, and then by England in 2006; since then it has spread around the world.

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Mental Health Awareness Week: Kindness & Self-Compassion.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the theme is kindness.  While a lot of the focus will probably be aimed at being kind to other people, I would like to focus on Self-kindness and the positive effects it can have on our physical and mental wellbeing.

In my last blog, Why Now May be a Good Time to Start Meditating, I highlighted how dangerous negative thoughts and emotions, such as anxiety, can be for our health. 

The further we traverse into the uncharted territories that this pandemic is presenting to the world then the more important actions such as kindness are.  As people become more afraid and stress increases, words such as kindness, love and care seem to get forgotten, replaced by anger, frustration and an urge to find someone to blame.

Numerous studies have shown that emotions such as anger and hatred can be a significant cause of premature death.  Dr Redford Williams at Duke University, and Dr Robert Sapolsky at Stanford University have conducted studies that showed how anger, rage and hostility are particularly damaging to the cardiovascular system.  Read more

Jekyll & Hyde -The Dangers of Suppressing the True You.

Every so often you come across a story that really resonates; recently this has been ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ by Robert Louis Stevenson.

I have had the book for ages, and only decided to read it because it is on a school reading list for a friend’s son.  Like most people, I know the basics of the story and so I thought it might be relevant to my current situation.

Stevenson wrote Jekyll and Hyde at the end of 1885, and at the time it was viewed simply as a ‘horror story’, including by Stevenson himself.  The idea for the story came to him in a dream, and he described it as a ‘fine bogey tale’.  His wife did not like the first draft, she thought that the story had more potential, that it might have something significant to say about human nature, rather than being a mere horror story.  How right she was. Read more

Suicide and Depression.

This is probably the most difficult blog to write, because it deals with the darkest side of mental health, which is suicide.

I wrote it a while ago, but was not sure when to post it.

Last night Kim and I watched ‘Zoe’s Hardest Road Home’, the BBC/Sports Relief documentary which charted Zoe Ball’s journey of cycling 350 miles from Blackpool to Brighton in order to raise money and awareness of mental health issues.

Zoe’s experience with mental health came when her boyfriend Billy Yates (who suffered from depression) committed suicide.  The documentary was an emotional watch, especially when Zoe described the last time she saw Billy. Read more