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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Time to Get Outdoors, Whatever the Weather….

I guess it is stating the obvious to say that the weather has a massive impact on our mood.  When the sun shines we generally feel better than when it is wet windy and grey.

Normally I don’t mind a bit of rain and wind; after all, us Brits are used to it (sniggers from my friends and relatives in South Africa) but the last couple of months have been a real struggle for me.  It seems as though every day I have had to battle through high winds, and wade through sticky, gooey mud.  I battle depression anyway, but I find that the worse the weather, the lower my mood.

One of my neighbours recently saw me walking down the road with Leo in the rain; he smiled and said “that’s why I have a cat….” can’t really argue with that.

This year the storms seem relentless, and the normal, cold crisp, frosty days of winter that I really love, have been very scarce. Read more

Fit For Work, Just Making it All Up?

When you are listening to someone talk about their mental health problems, it is always important to remember that the route cause is specific to them, it is created by their own, individual, experience.

I mention this because I am going to try and explain the reasons why I say I cannot work.

Most of what I am about to write may seem trivial to some of you, you may even have gone through something similar and don’t have a problem; if that is the case then I am very happy for you.

You may think I am just a weaker person. Read more

ESA Benefit Appeal Upheld by Tribunal.

Many of you have probably seen stories in the news about people with mental health struggles battling to get benefits; some of you may be fighting the battle right now.

Like most things I don’t think you can fully understand a problem until you live it, and in a way that is why challenging a decision by the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) to stop my ESA benefits seemed something that I just had to do.

While I was successful with my appeal, the whole process highlighted some rather alarming issues; the main one for me was that the DWP seem to have no detailed knowledge of how mental health issues work, and that is scary because let’s remember, this is a government department that is tasked to try and help people! Read more

Stress at Work: The Overloaded Inbox

Modern technology is meant to make life easier, and while in part it does, it is also the cause of a lot of stress, especially at work.

E-mail is just one of those technological achievements.  While it is great to be able to contact someone quickly and is environmentally friendly, it also adds a lot of pressure and expectation which can mean that our minds are never ‘off-line’.

As a recipient, you can get overwhelmed with the volume of e-mails, and as the sender, you can get angry quickly because you expect a fast response, and don’t always get it.

“All those e-mails you don’t have time to deal with could be making you ill” says an article on the BBC website today.  Research has been carried out at the University of Manchester to prove this, which is great because we can’t do anything these days without scientific proof. Read more