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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Running 480 miles, in 16 Weeks, In Aid of Mind.

When the NHS appealed for volunteers to help during the current pandemic, I thought long and hard about signing up, but soon realised that with my anxiety and depression I probably wouldn’t be much help, so I didn’t do it.

It wasn’t a nice feeling, realising that I wouldn’t be reliable enough to help other people; and I felt guilty when I saw some of the amazing work that volunteers are doing to help their community.

This has been playing on my mind for a while now, and I have kept thinking of ways that I could help.  I guess that in a small way, some of my social media posts, and the blogs I write do help, but it is hard to see the tangible effects, despite receiving some lovely, amazing comments. Read more

The Benefits Brick Wall.

For most of 2019 I have been fighting with the Department for Work and Pensions, trying to find out why they are persisting with a rubbish benefits system that simply doesn’t work for people with mental health disabilities.

Initially the fight was regarding Employment Support Allowance (ESA) benefits, in particular the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) they use to help determine if you are capable of working or not.  The fight has now gone onto a second front, this time regarding the Personal Independent Payment (PIP) benefit that they stopped awarding me in December 2019; in particular the assessment they used to decide that really there is nothing wrong with me.

The way I see it, the current system actually punishes those with mental health issues from trying to make an effort; the greater reward comes from actually not doing anything. Read more

Is This Why People Give Up?

A couple of weeks ago I contacted the Bedfordshire Wellbeing Service (They offer talking therapies and are part of the East London NHS Foundation Trust) to try and get some additional help for my anxiety and depression.

I was originally given their leaflet by my GP because I asked him about finding additional help; you can self refer, so I said I would contact them myself.  I left it for a while but recently my depression became worse so I decided to see what they could do.

What they offer is limited because the NHS only endorse CBT, counselling and medication as mental health treatments; I am already having counselling (not via the NHS because they only offer a set number of sessions.  I had ten with an NHS therapist who didn’t really seem interested) and I wouldn’t touch anti depressants again, so I guess I was going to be left with CBT, which would be better than nothing.  I had CBT before via the NHS but it didn’t really work because I was fighting my old company at the time, and this hindered any progress, so it was agreed I would stop.  I thought that maybe now it would be more effective. Read more

Lift The Weight – The RPA

As part of the work I am doing to campaign for better mental health in the work place, I am always on the look-out for companies and organisations that are truly making a difference.

The first organisation I would like to highlight is The Rugby Players Association (The RPA).

I was fortunate to be able to speak with Caroline Guthrie, the Senior Development Manager so I could gain an insight into the great work The RPA are doing to support its members. Read more