Mental Health: its ok not to be ok, real men cry… we’ve all seen the TV adverts and the posters slapped on the back of bathroom stalls, but over the last year I have experienced some of my toughest times yet and I can openly say I suffer with my mental health.
My story isn’t important right now but the journey I’ve been on is.
Almost everyone on the planet has, or will, suffer with their mental health. This is because we all lead busy lives with 10,000 priorities, ourselves and our health usually being the last one. Don’t get me wrong, a year ago I would have been the one rolling my eyes when reading this or giggling under my breathe when someone suggested I meditate to help me sleep. I never put myself first, ever! because I didn’t think I needed looking after, I was the girl that ran on two cylinders all the time; work, study, family, social life and repeat… until I crashed that was.
“Mental Health is not a destination, it’s a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.” – Noam Shpancer
Now, I have never been happier and healthier in my life, and by healthier I don’t mean I’ve dieted, lost weight, joined a gym; my mind is healthy for the first time in my life.
- 2014 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey. This highlights that, every week, 1 in 6 adults experiences a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression and 1 in 5 adults has considered taking their own life at some point.
- Every seven years a survey is done in England to measure the number of people who have different types of mental health problems. It was last published in 2016 and reported these figures:
|5.9 in 100 people|
3.3 in 100 people
2.4 in 100 people
1.3 in 100 people
0.6 in 100 people
4.4 in 100 people
|Mixed anxiety and depression||
7.8 in 100 people
- The above survey also measures the number of people who have self-harmed, had suicidal thoughts or have made suicidal attempts over their lifetime:
|Suicidal thoughts||20.6 in 100 people|
|Suicide attempts||6.7 in 100 people|
|Self-harm||7.3 in 100 people|
- Children and Young People
- The last national morbidity survey for children and young people’s mental health was carried out in 2004. At that time, one in ten children and young people aged between five and 16 were reported as having a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder.
- Four per cent had an emotional disorder (anxiety or depression), 6 per cent had a conduct disorder, 2 per cent had a hyper kinetic disorder and 1 per cent had a less common disorder such as autism. Two per cent of children had more than one type of disorder.
Scary right! With all of this in mind I thought I may share some tips with you on keeping your mind happy and healthy;
Connect with people
Good relationships are important for your mental wellbeing. They can:
- help you to build a sense of belonging and self-worth
- give you an opportunity to share positive experiences
- provide emotional support and allow you to support others
There are lots of things you could try to help build stronger and closer relationships:
- if possible, take time each day to be with your family, for example, try arranging a fixed time to eat dinner together
- arrange a day out with friends you have not seen for a while
- try switching off the TV to talk or play a game with your children, friends or family
- have lunch with a colleague
- visit a friend or family member who needs support or company
- volunteer at a local school, hospital or community group. Find out how to volunteer on the GOV.UK website
- make the most of technology to stay in touch with friends and family. Video-chat apps like Skype and FaceTime are useful, especially if you live far apart
- Do not rely on technology or social media alone to build relationships. It’s easy to get into the habit of only ever texting, messaging or emailing people
Pay attention to the present moment
Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing. This includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.
- Read up on tips on how to block the noise of the world out, process yourself and appreciate every moment. I personally found this book a great read! Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World: By Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman
- Analyse one moment and dwell your past. You can’t change it, only accept it.
Give to others
Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing by:
- creating positive feelings and a sense of reward
- giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth
- helping you connect with other people
It could be small acts of kindness towards other people, or larger ones like volunteering in your local community.
- saying thank you to someone for something they have done for you
- asking friends, family or colleagues how they are and really listening to their answer
- spending time with friends or relatives who need support or company
- offering to help someone you know with DIY or a work project
- volunteering in your community, such as helping at a school, hospital or care home
- Distract yourself with this. Remember to be kind to yourself.
Informed Financial Planning are keen to create a healthy environment for staff and encourage personal time to ensure a balance is created. As a team we have made some small changes to our working lives in hopes of switching off and speaking out in times of struggle. Here are some examples of what we have done you may find helpful;
- Weekly walks, any day when the forecast is dry a member of the management sends an all users email to see whether anyone what’s to join them for a lunch time walk. Fresh air and conversation, a great way to connect with people and get your steps in.
- Games in the lunchroom to encourage colleagues to switch off from work, talk, and enjoy a full lunch break rather than rushing back to their desks.
- Monthly staff newsletter with information on local activities, articles on mental health, motivational quotes and general information.
- Word of the week, each Wednesday a member of the staff sends an all user email with motivation to get through the week.
To end my time with you I wanted to share some of my favourite quotes;
“You yourself, as much as anyone in the entire universe deserve your love and affection”
“Do not give your past the power to control your future”
“In Japan, broken objects are often repaired with Gold. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the objects history, which adds to it’s beauty. Consider this when you feel broken”