World Mental Health Day takes place on 10 October each year, and this year's theme is 'Mental Health in an Unequal World'1. The aim is to raise awareness of mental health issues across the globe, giving those working in this field a chance to share useful learnings. By working together, we can help to fuel future progress and better ways to support our family, friends and colleagues, who may be trying to cope with their mental health.
Our team of therapists at Chakra understands that it can be difficult to know what to do when you’re trying to support someone who’s struggling with mental health issues. Sadly, inequalities in society are having a detrimental impact on different communities when it comes to their mental health, and this includes factors such as ethnicity and poverty. If you’re concerned about someone with mental health issues who is at risk of inequality, we hope this article proves useful.
This is the startling number of people who will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lifetimes (The Health & Safety Executive2). Inequalities in our society only serve to worsen existing mental health issues. But societal inequality is a broad and complex topic, and there is often a knock-on effect from one area of inequality to another, which can cause minor issues to spiral out of control.
This is the increase in young people from an ethnic minority experiencing suicidal thoughts during the pandemic, compared to an 18% increase for young white people.3 Where there is racial inequality there can often be a lack of cohesion between communities and local mental health support in terms of inclusive facilities and awareness. Where there is financial poverty, there can be a reduced level of physical fitness within a community, leading to an increase in mental health issues.
Over the past year, there has been a clear rise in health inequalities due to the pandemic, and never before has mental health been such a hot topic. According to the Health Foundation4, the true psychological impact of the pandemic is yet to be seen and its effects are still being studied5. At present, there’s a mixed picture in terms of those groups who have fared worse than others. When you add workplace stress to the mix, you have a potent recipe for serious mental health problems.
Stress in the workplace can aggravate pre-existing mental health conditions, especially if someone is experiencing specific problems at work. With more than five years of experience in providing corporate mental health services, our team see these issues on a daily basis. We’ve seen first-hand how stressed employees can create a "ripple" effect amongst teams.
When you include the impact of redundancy and furlough and increased role pressures, for example, taking on a colleague’s job responsibilities, you start to see a complex picture.
Someone who may have previously been coping well with their mental health, could now suddenly find their issues becoming too much for them to handle alone, especially if they’re at risk of inequality.
As an employer, getting to grips with this important topic will enable you to make a positive difference in your own workplace. Whether work is the cause of a mental health issue or simply aggravating existing conditions, employers do have a legal responsibility to help their employees. But what can you do to raise awareness and create a more open environment for your colleagues?
We have observed that in some businesses an ethnically diverse workforce may not be equally represented in counselling and wellbeing opportunities, due to cultural stigmas and fears of judgement. Our onsite counselling sessions often reveal the barriers people have faced in accessing mental health support.
Education is the key to raising awareness, as well as encouraging open dialogue on this topic. If you have a diverse workforce, who may be experiencing inequality in one form or another, think about sensitive ways you can encourage them to voice their issues. This could be through one-off events, focusing on occasions such as World Mental Health Day.
You could create an internal desk-drop style marketing campaign, which provides useful tips and support to help employees with their mental health. Depending on the dynamic of your teams, which may vary, you could add this as a fixed agenda item for team meetings. You may decide to add this as a permanent item to be discussed in PDP (personal development plan) one-to-one meetings, where privacy may help to encourage honest conversations.
The current climate is a “perfect storm” for more vulnerable members of society with mental health problems who are at risk of inequality in our society. Employers should aim to measure the levels of risk to staff when it comes to both inequality and their mental health. If you decide you have employees at risk of developing work-related mental health issues, then it’s important to take steps towards removing or reducing this risk.
Workplace education and support will enable your staff to be more aware of their mental health, and there are various ways you can implement this within your organisation. For further advice on how to help employees who may have suicidal thoughts, read our recent blog, World Suicide Prevention Day: How to Help Someone You Know.
The 10th September each year marks World Suicide Prevention Day. We are keen to join thousands of people and organisations across the globe to prevent lives from being lost to suicide. The aim of this campaign is to find better ways to empower and educate individuals and companies, so we can work together to ensure fewer people take their own lives.
The Chakra team are here to help your employees feel more comfortable in managing their mental health issues. If you are worried about anyone who seems to be struggling, we hope this article proves helpful.
“Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy.”
According to the Office for National Statistics, 5224 people took their own life during 2020. That is the equivalent of 10 people in every 100,000 taking their own lives. And the ripple effect caused by such a tragedy is felt across families, friends and colleagues. Interestingly, this is a decrease from 2019, when the pandemic only served to compound many people’s existing mental health issues. It’s thought that this is likely to be due to a delay in death registrations and fewer male suicides at the start of the pandemic.
Helping a colleague whom you suspect may have mental health issues could seem like a minefield. We have all heard that men are at greater risk of suicide and sadly, our latest statistics support this fact. When it comes to men the mortality rate leaps to 15.4 per 100,000 people and accounts for three-quarters of registered suicides. Therefore, raising awareness of suicide prevention is an important issue and one that requires organisations and individuals to work together. But the main difficulty is often recognising when someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts and then knowing how best to support them.
Statistically, male suicide rates have been much higher than females for decades, and there are many opinions on why this is the case. Some behavioural experts suggest women are more likely to form close friendship groups and share their feelings as opposed to men. Others argue that societal stigmas around mental health still exist, resulting in men feeling unable to discuss their feelings and the need for them “to be strong” and “boys don’t cry”. You may find such stigmas exist in your own workplace.
Andy Salkeld’s Broken the Stigma? digs deeper into the issues surrounding the stigma of mental illness in the workplace. Salkeld’s research shows that people report the fear of stigma is worse than living with the mental illness itself. Such stigmas are often a huge emotional obstacle for someone struggling with suicidal ideation and this can result in a tragic loss of life. You may have colleagues who feel unable to seek help, so it is important to create an open environment for people to feel able to discuss their mental health issues.
Salkeld’s findings conclude that education and contact within professional service firms can help to reduce workplace stigmas surrounding mental health. So, how can you help someone whom you suspect may have mental health issues, but seems hesitant to come forward and ask for help?
Assure them that it’s okay to not feel okay and together you will work through their issues. Whether you are trying to support a family, friend or fellow colleague, be available for that person and try to encourage them to talk. Find a quiet place to have a coffee or go for a walk together. Show them that you care, see their value and worth because this in turn will help to give that person a sense of hope. Listen to them; you don’t have to have all the answers.
If you know someone is finding life difficult and they are unable to talk, encourage them to keep a gratitude journal. Start by suggesting they write down three things each day they are grateful for and encourage them to find new things each time. Over the past year, this technique has become increasingly popular with those who have never experienced mental health issues previously and who have found life during the pandemic very difficult.
When a person is expressing suicidal thoughts, it’s important to take them seriously. By offering awareness, education and support to your staff, this could mean the difference between life and death. Together let’s try to prevent more lives from being lost to suicide.
Please get in touch for more information on how our training courses and personal counselling can help your organisation.
The day that celebrates love and affection came and went yesterday. Many of us enjoyed expressing our love to others with greetings and gifts. And that makes us feel good! However, if we consider the idea that “self-love” might also give us the same feelings of greatness, does it become easier to achieve?
Written to help you fall in love with self-care and enjoy the beauty within.
“The beauty you see in me is a reflection of you” Rumi.
I’ve been doing a lot of research and work around the “science of kindness” recently and have relished the positive emotions that are induced by acts of being kind. Funnily enough, it seems that kindness and love share much in common… we can easily feel we are showing our love to someone in being kind to them! I find it even more interesting that this concept we call “love” is often assumed to have a deep and meaningful, somewhat exclusive-to-the-relationship connotation. However, our “love” can be experienced and evoked through a multitude of efforts and behaviours which we might call “kindness” but also:
“care”, “appreciation”, “attention”, “generosity”, “loyalty”, “trust”, “devotion”, “selflessness”, “compassion”, “support” and of course “passion”.
Isn’t it that interesting our expressions of “love” (with respect to all the above) towards others can be so great… but when it comes to ourselves, self-criticism feels so much easier than self-praise, self-sabotage feels so much easier than self-discipline and expecting less of others feels easier than expecting less of ourselves.
Although these thoughts and behaviours might seem easier, they don’t feel good and they do nothing to encourage us towards good mental health. That same unhelpful language might even be speaking to you now and saying “you’re too good at self-criticism, self-sabotage and putting others before you… switching to a completely different way of being isn’t even possible!”
So before you give up or even think that self-care, a form of self-love, is going to take endless energy, here are a few quick ways to get you started on the inner work…
Some of you may know that I am a fan of doing things in 3’s, reinforcing positivity to help our brain feel more comfortable with it. So how about creating a moment of self-care each day by noting 3 Things you have done well? They can be as simple or imaginative as you like. Perhaps you woke up this morning feeling tired, but still managed to get up and ready and have a productive day at work, or perhaps you felt you felt like having a day on your own but still showed up to that Zoom call and contributed! It’s lovely to look back on these 3 Things at the end of the week to feel a sense of achievement 😊
Watch your language!
The way we speak to ourselves can very quickly cause us to feel disempowered and not good enough. Sentences starting with “I have to..”, “I need to…”, “I should” are unhelpful and take away the feeling that we have a choice in what we’re doing. Feeling in control of our decisions can really boost our mental health. Monitor how much you use these phrases that often elicit a feeling of stress or helplessness and notice how empowering it feels to say “I want to…”, “I can…”, “I choose to”… they may feel a little alien to start with but as with anything you, they can feel more natural with practice 😊
As human beings, we are social animals. This means we need to be in contact with others to feel as though we are surviving! During a time in which we are forced to be physically distant from those we cherish, we may notice ourselves withdrawing a little, losing motivation to socially connect with others and possibly even losing our social skills! Zoom fatigue may be looming but that doesn’t mean you can’t drop someone a message to say “I was thinking about you.. how are things?” or even get creative with your video calls by planning a fun quiz, movie night, book club or even a whatever-you-fancy competition with family, friends and colleagues… be it baking, drawing or anything in between!
Written to help you fall in love with self-care and enjoy the beauty within.
“The beauty you see in me is a reflection of you” Rumi.
Look after you,
The internet is an addiction. I didn?t realise this until I stopped using it.
I have been off the internet for about a week now. Well, not completely. But I have blocked all the sites I used compulsively ? social media, news sites, and TV and video sites.
The effect so far? Surprisingly dramatic. My focus is sharper, and my thinking is clearer. Distracting mental noise has reduced by about 50% at a guess. Negative thought patterns are dissolving. I feel my thoughts are more my own now, and I?m not just reading other peoples? and calling them my own. I knew when I quit the internet that I would regain control of my mind, but the speed at which it seems to be happening has really surprised me.
So in this entry I?ll take you through what led me to quitting, how I did it, and the effect it has had so far.
Seven months ago I started learning about mindfulness. The idea is that you try to stay focussed in the present and really experience life. You stop thinking about the past and being resentful. You stop thinking and worrying about the future. You stop conceptualising and comparing and judging everything. When the mental noise stops you can simply be. You can experience, enjoy and be grateful for life. That?s not to say that all thought stops, but it is to say that compulsive thinking stops. Compulsive thinking is addictive thinking, and it has occurred to me that many of us are addicted to the internet because it encourages our thought addiction.
Over the last seven months it has been a struggle to stay in the moment. I would have moments of total peace, joy and presence which made me know everything they said about mindfulness in the books was true. But these moments would only last a few hours at a time, and they would soon fade, and I would be drawn constantly back into compulsive thinking.
But what chance did I really have with mindfulness when I was conditioning my mind, for hours upon hours a day, to think compulsively? I was using the internet every day. I would mindlessly browse addictive websites for long stretches. I didn?t really stand a chance.
Last week I caught myself staring at stupid memes and plates of people?s food on Facebook for half an hour. Half an hour of this life, gone. Consumed by an activity I did not enjoy at all, but which I could not seem to stop doing.
I made the decision to quit. And I took it seriously.
Even though the technical side of this would take an hour tops (blocking a few sites and deleting a few accounts), consciously disentangling myself psychologically from the internet took me two whole days. Though to be honest, a lot of this time was spent saying ?goodbye? to the internet by bingeing on YouTube videos of Gordon Ramsay shouting at people. Stupid I know, but addictions, eh.
Deciding to quit Facebook took me four whole hours. I wrote down all the pros and cons, and after really thinking through every pro, I realised they were just illusory benefits. Here?s what I wrote down.
Initially, it was just meant to be Facebook that I was quitting. But then I kept thinking. ?I?m quitting Facebook because it?s a waste of my life. What other sites are a waste of my life??
I went through the same cost/benefit analysis of every site that I spent a lot of time on.
News sites. This one was the easiest. I figured none of the reported news was relevant to my own life. If there was any news that was relevant to my life, I would find it out first hand. As Tomorrow Never Dies media mogul supervillain Elliot Carver once said, ?good news, is bad news?. Do I really want to fill my head with all the bad things going on in the world? I won?t get any joy out of it. It will just make me depressed.
Second objection? Many news sites try to get you ?engaged?, which really means getting you annoyed and posting pissy comments at the end of the article. Opinion pieces and clickbait junk. The goal is to keep you on site, keep you clicking, and keep you enraged. Sorry, ?engaged?.
Next was the TV sites. It occurred to me that I didn?t want to fill the void left by the internet watching TV shows. Their aim was the same as these websites ? to keep you hooked to increase their ad revenue. They monetise your time. Your life to them is a commodity to be sold to advertisers. A quote from Andrew Lewis says ?if you?re not paying for the product, you are the product!? At least I?m getting paid to be at work, but I?m a slave to these people!
Oh but what about the BBC? They?re not in it for the money, surely. Well actually, yes they are. They just get it from the government (well, us), rather than the advertisers. They use the same methods of psychological enslavement to keep you addicted to justify their existence to get money from the taxpayer. As no journalist ever says today, ?follow the money?.
And then there was the big one. YouTube. Why was this one so hard? Well, for one, I used to like eating dinner and watching Gordon Ramsay shout at people. If I didn?t have YouTube, what was I going to watch when eating?
Ok, so I needed a better reason than that. What about all the useful tutorials on there? Well, it?s fine until the next recommended video is Gordon Ramsay?s idiot sandwich moment, then Gordon Ramsay?s biggest blow outs, then two episodes of Hotel Hell that I?ve already seen. Four hours of life, gone. Forget it, if I want to learn something I?ll read about it in a book or use a different website.
Ok, so I consume a lot of garbage on YouTube, but what about all the good stuff? All the talks that I watch by spiritual masters like Eckhart Tolle, Sadhguru and Osho? I watch a lot of that stuff too. Actually, a lot is an understatement. I binge watch so many videos about being in the moment, that I never am in the moment! Besides, YouTube is THE most addictive and time consuming website of all.
And then I had no more excuses. YouTube, blocked.
And that was it. The void was fully open. There was no more content that could fill it. Well? what if I create surrogates and get addicted to new sites? What if I do a Donald and can?t sleep because I?m on Twitter? What if I spend hours looking at irrelevant curiosities on Wikipedia? I can?t get rid of my computer completely. I still need to be able to book plane tickets!
Ok, so here I got back to my motivation. Before quitting I had watched a video of a guy giving a Ted Talk who was recalling his experiences of being a year offline. He said somewhere that he had to get used to boredom. But then, he started playing video games to fill the void. The whole point of my quitting was to become more mindful, and live more intensely in the moment. So the solution to the final problem was in the motivation. I had to embrace the boredom. Get used to being bored. Like we all once were before the days of print, TV and internet. An empty mind is a clear mind from which original thought, creativity, joy and love can emerge. Before I got into mindfulness I hadn?t experienced these things in years.
And so I created my new internet guidelines.
And so it?s been a week. Here?s what the experience has been like so far.
My eye contact has improved. I feel like I?m actually engaging with people now and am more intensely present with them. Eye contact says a lot. It says you?re here. I never really use to make much eye contact. I would very quickly get distracted by events, thoughts or my phone. Improving my eye contact was not something I actually consciously did, it just happened. I was just more focussed on the person I was with.
The eye contact thing was more a symptom. The root was the compulsive thinking. The negative thought patterns that swirl around. They swirl around because we have little control over them. We have little control over them because we are conditioning ourselves each day to get distracted, to lose focus.
I was in Portugal for two days last week. It was 33 degrees and I stared at the sea, totally focussed for a couple of hours. The tides rising, the waves crashing. It was all so alive, but this would have been impossible to see if I was compulsively thinking, and not looking. I watched how the water was being pulled up by the force of the moon?s gravity (I think). This is something I never would have noticed, cared about or enjoyed when my focus was poor.
My writing has improved. What would have taken me at least two days has taken me a couple of hours. In this moment, this is the only activity that I am engaged with. The words are just coming without conscious effort. Like Donald Trump, it?s clear to me now that I have all the best words.
So that?s pretty much it for now. I haven?t quit the internet entirely, but only the sites and content that kept me from living my life to its fullest. I can focus on one thing, and not get distracted by thoughts, and I?m no longer spending hours on end looking at classical art memes. I?m less self-conscious and more engaged with people. I feel more like myself much more of the time.
When considering quitting the internet (or more specifically those compulsive and addictive sites that make money off your attention and time), the only real question to ask yourself is? do these sites really add anything to my life?
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. It is rare to want to talk about suicide.. but a father and son from Wetherby, both of whom are close to my heart, are going to extreme lengths to challenge that status quo. #1000milesofmadness is their pledge to honour the life of a family member who ended his life by suicide in March, and to raise awareness of suicide in the hope of keeping more people alive. 1000 Miles of Madness is the cycle challenge they are due to embark upon next Summer ? riding 1000 miles across America over the period of 10 days. Please take the time to read this raw, honest and moving true story and support their incredibly worthy and necessary cause.
When you shared your Huffpost article with me in May, I knew I needed to respond. And that the response had to be more than just fatherly encouragement for your inspirational action, using your own lived experiences to define what you needed to do for you and to help others.
Of course, I immediately offered to undertake this ride with you, help you find sponsors for the amazing Light House Group (TLG) charity and as a result we planned our first 100 mile bike ride last weekend?
Yet it does not feel like that is enough. True for a sixty year old, who has overindulged in the fine wines, baked camembert, you mentioned and countless other health sins, for most of those 60 years, it does seem like a big ask. More importantly, add into the equation the fact that I had not been on a bike for a good 25 years, many would say it is a herculean task! No it is the 1000 miles of madness? which you inspired and there is more, so here goes??
What truly lived for me as a parent when I read your post was a need to protect you from such experiences. Yet it tapped into my own grief. Let me take you back to the 2 months before you were born, September 1986. Your mum and I were at your grandparents in Great Barr, Birmingham, England, when I received the fateful call from the police, ?There has been an accident, you are needed at your parents home?. I was stunned, but then asked a series of quick fire questions, to which the calm and measured response was simply ?You are needed at home?. I sensed something awful had happened and wanted to protect you, our unborn child, from such anguish. I agreed with your mum I should go alone.
The 13 mile drive to my parents, alone with my thoughts, was torture, my mind played with the carefully chosen words of the police, fuelling my imagination. When, after an eternity, I got to the front door of my parents house, I was greeted by a police officer. I realised then how impeccably the police had acted, when they informed me what had actually happened. My youngest brother Ross, still living at home, had used our father?s shot gun to commit suicide.
I was shown into the lounge where my parents and younger sister, Yvonne, were huddled grief stricken, there were no words, just uncontrollable tears. I realise now, in that painful outpouring there was a great cathartic release in that shared grief. On reflection, I denied your mother that relief and the healing of that community of shared experience and indirectly you too. So when you described the phone call you received from your mum about TJ and the fact that you were isolated with your grief, it is so understandable why you initially reacted the way you did.
My parents dealt with their grief around the loss of Ross very privately and after the funeral did not really talk about what happened. Mental health was still very much a taboo subject at that time. My father did go to talk to Ross?s employers to try and discover what might have lead to his suicide, but it revealed very little. My way of coping was to look for the positive in Ross?s life and his decision to end it. I made a secret vow to myself to become successful and so compensate my parents that way for their loss. I also vowed to protect you from the pain of life I had experienced so you never felt the need to take your own life.
Yet all these promises were about me and my fears of facing such pain again, the thought of losing you in the way my father lost Ross crippled me and drove me at the same time. In truth life has since brought me experiences, which would guide me now to ask of Ross to share with me why he was suffering so much, and maybe in the sharing and compassionately seeking to understand his life experience a tragedy could have been avoided. My learning has been that when you truly accept responsibility for all of your actions, even the smallest of choices, that is when you become a man and in that I celebrate the man you and your younger brother have become. I am so proud of both of you.
I am reminded of the story of the young boy on the beach who was throwing washed up stranded starfish back beyond the breakwater. An elder approached the boy and said, ?What are you doing??There are thousands of stranded starfish on the beach you cannot hope to make a difference?. The boy looked at him, picked up another starfish and launched it to safety, saying to the elder, ?Well it made a difference to that one!?
When we talked about the motivation of getting on the bike everyday to train for our trip, when it is cold and the wind is howling you told me you only had to think of TJ and your hope in doing what you are doing to raise awareness and funds for TLG that you might save just one life, that is what keeps you going, just like the boy on the beach. Well son, your courage in sharing inspired me and that will I hope inspire others touched by mental health to act and together we will make a difference. Your audacious tenacity in seeking support is inspirational. I know you wrote to Prince Harry suggesting that you were ginger like him and that you shared an interest in raising mental health awareness, so would he like to join you for a stage of the 1000 miles of madness next year!
That would be like me writing to Prince Charles and suggesting that we have similar experiences in mental health, in marriage, children of a similar age and would he like to join me for 1000 miles on a bike trip across the US for personal growth and family healing. Initially I felt that was ludicrous, yet mental health touches every family regardless of wealth or position and only education will change people?s lives, so maybe??. Well to be honest the only thing stopping me now is the mental image of Prince Charles on a road bike!!
Irrespective of Royal endorsement let?s take time to share our experiences, the joys and sadness of our lives touched by TJ and RJ (Ross James) and hope at least in emulating our Princes? courage in talking so openly about their mother that we too in some small way inspire change.
Neil Manaley aka Dad xx
Chakra have a brand new website!
Emotions can sometimes feel like they're overtaking your whole life, especially when in comes to stress in our environments. Stress automatically created a negative energy for me and brought me down. Sometimes the fighting doesn't become the flight and I become down and completely overwhelmed by what. My brain is telling me in feeling rather than how I'm actually feeling.
I like to think of myself as a calm person who doesn't react drastically under pressure or stress, but recently I've experienced a whole range of stress and emotions I have never experienced before. My brain has gone into overdrive and I felt more trapped in my own brains stress than ever. I just want to cry and be alone.
I thought I was strong minded but after realising that emotions and more importantly stress can impact your decisions I decided I need to sort things out. That was the first step for me and a very good one in fact; to actually realise something wasn't right and that I needed to help to sort the problem. I didn't want to become a prisoner in my own mind! I spoke to Zainah about my problems and how anxious they were making me. She was so understanding and offered her professional advice that was completely tailored to my situation. It felt amazing to be listened to and have someone on your side than the constant fight with myself.
I started to use her mindfulness techniques to refocus myself when I felt an episode of insecurity coming to me, I realised that the problem wasn't caused by what I thought it was caused by, but more importantly I realised that it wasn't my fault; and I'm not afraid to throw myself in at the deep end as I know I am able to turn the negative energy stress into excitement to get me through. I am now learning to be in control of stress and how to handle it in everyday situations; thank you to Zainah and Chakra
Chakra?s Mental Strength for the Nation Tour is in full swing. We delivered two powerful full-day events around creating mentally health workplaces during Leeds Wellbeing Week in March and launched our masterclass series with Leeds Rhinos? Stevie Ward as keynote speaker.
Last week we moved on to Manchester for Mental Health Awareness Week and had a great day exploring the most prominent mental health issues affecting workplaces and what support strategies colleagues could use to encourage mentally healthy ways of being for all staff.On Wednesday 13th June, we visit York. Men?s Health Week is fast approaching and we have another event planned to further reduce the stigma around men?s mental health. We have all heard much about the rates of suicide being significantly higher for men than they are for women and the most recent ONS data reinforces this saddening statistic again, with 75% of people ending their own lives being men and boys. Suicide is the ultimate cost of mental health difficulties and we seek to apply an early intervention approach to tackling mental ill-health at the earliest stage.
This means picking up on feelings of anxiety, depression and stress and responding to ourselves in a way which encourages feelings of control and security and eroding those of helplessness and fear. Together, we will unpick each mental health diagnosis, understanding the signs, symptoms and indicators as well as medication and treatment options and healthy coping strategies for each.
There are differences in the way men respond to situations of mental ill-health and it is important to acknowledge how we can use a range of support strategies to support male colleagues and understand what is most effective for them specifically. Problems with alienation and isolation are likely to result from damages to pride, purpose and meaning when working with men and they are coping strategies for these are again more likely to come in the form of destructive behaviours, substance abuse and involvement in high-risk activities. We know that men are less likely to use mental health support services than women due to fear of stigma and therefore more likely to suffer in silence.
Our York event will pay particular attention to issues of anger and aggression and how these feelings are often an indicator of our long-term mental health circumstances. Anger is often used to ?mask? other, more vulnerable feelings, and our exploration of what anger can tell us and how we can express it more healthily will encourage an emotionally intelligent way of thinking and promote our understanding of personal patterns to a greater degree. The outcome is the ability to monitor our own state of mental health, ours and others? indicators of poor mental health and the knowing of how to move to a more positive state of mind through greater self-awareness. Anger is a normal, healthy emotion. It is only when we hold on to angry thoughts for longer than necessary that it may become damaging to our mental health and blur the clarity of thinking.
We have an all-male guest-speaker line-up for our Men?s Health Week event and our guest speakers will share their personal stories of mental health difficulty and recovery, what helped most and expert insights into what it means to be a mentally healthy man.
Ready to get your anger under control? Start by considering these 10 anger management tips.
If you are finding it difficult to manage your anger, please get in touch to arrange one-to-one support with us.
We often come across ego-clashing in our lives; in the workplace, in our families, with peers or even passing strangers in the street!
Ego-clashes can be nasty and leave us feeling wounded or angry, and the atmosphere is made uncomfortable? even for the people who are not involved?
There are many reasons for ego-clashes, including conflicting personalities, jealousy or communication problems. Egos might also surface when fear, insecurity or lack of trust. Fundamentally, we are an animal species and conflict will occur. If our ego wins, we can enjoy feelings of euphoria and superiority. However, this is often at the expenses of others feeling demoralised, tense and stressed.
The bottom line is; our ego is our self-image, and also a great con artist. It knows us so well that it can use whatever tools it wishes to make us succumb to what it wants us to believe. This includes logic, false confidence and even sweet-talk to get us trapped.
The ego will never die, but we can teach ourselves to live in harmony with it.
Linking in with yesterday?s post about ways of thinking, have you ever thought about what might shape our thoughts? Or at least contribute to them? In therapy, we often call this our Frame of Reference. What does this mean? Frames of Reference are about how our beliefs and values are shaped through our lived experiences. A snapshot of what might make up our unique Frame will include our experiences of childhood, work, gender, sexuality, culture, family situation, work experiences, relationships and much, much more. We formulate our thoughts based on this information, most of the time. A frame of reference is a complex set of assumptions and attitudes which we use to filter perceptions to create meaning.
Notably, much of life?s satisfaction comes from experiences which broaden our perspectives and give us new ?reference? points. This is just as relevant for us when working with mental health challenges. We might not always understand them, or be able to identify with them, as the experiences might not be within our Frame of Reference. However, this does not mean we cannot support others. The way we communicate is paramount.
We are almost a month into the New Year and many of us might be evaluating the effectiveness of our resolutions. The New Year traditionally signifies new beginnings, a fresh start and possibly a chance to even start again from something that didn?t quite go to plan in the past.
Every year, most of us set ourselves a resolution that we hope to achieve within the year. According to the recent ComRes poll via The Telegraph the most common New Year?s resolutions are as follows:
Alas, if only it were as easy to stick to our resolutions as it was to make them. On average, according to the ComRes poll, 80% of resolutions will fail by the time it gets to the second week of February. Personally, what I find easier when it comes to resolutions is to set something realistic and small, something that you know can achieve within that year. So even if you have a big resolution it?s more achievable to break it down and create smaller resolutions or goals within that. Kind of like a tick list!
When we create a resolution that?s too big or even unrealistic it simply makes it harder for us to achieve and then this affects our mood and outlook towards the resolution. We can start to feel unaccomplished; negative thoughts enter our mind and ultimately we might decide to give up on the whole idea. Constantly thinking about not achieving the resolution or feeling like we?re not getting anywhere with it pre-determines negative thoughts which then bring our mood down, and when we feel this way, we are unlikely to be able to motivate ourselves towards achieving new things.
?When resolutions are too ambitious, we struggle to change our habits, become discouraged when we fail and ultimately give up altogether.?
Another reason to create smaller resolutions is that we feel less pressurised to achieve them. Where having overambitious resolutions might make us feel like we have to have an all-or-nothing outcome, ?bitesized? resolutions give us a confidence boost which often encourage us to pursue our goals further! If we miss a small target, we should be able to forgive ourselves and try to get rid of any guilty feelings as quickly as possible. Guilt will push us away from feeling motivated into disappointed with ourselves and discouraged from trying again. The point of this idea is to not create so much pressure for ourselves as this will only lead to negative thoughts and we are setting ourselves up for failure before we even begin!
Talking about your experience with your friends and family can have a positive effect to achieving your resolution. Using the above can help us achieve our resolutions but I would say that the most important would be to not criticise ourselves if we fall off the wagon for a moment and accept that slip-ups are completely normal and okay and forgivable! And asking for support doesn?t mean we?re less capable of achieving our goals ? it actually takes huge amounts of courage.
So what do we do if mess up our resolutions? For example, If you have a resolution which it to lose weight and you break the resolution by eating something you shouldn?t ? an idea to come up from this is to get rid of the guilt; so doing something good for yourself which will impact your mood and hopefully make you feel better for the ?bad? that you?ve just done. But remember, not completely sticking to our resolutions shouldn?t deter us from thinking we can still achieve them!
Changing our perceptions of New Year?s Resolutions and taking time to consider what is realistic for us can form an important part of us being kind and compassionate towards ourselves; vital ingredients for self-care! Stay tuned for further insights into how we can show ourselves more self-care as we prepare for a month of self-care strategies throughout February! After all, Valentine?s Day is equally about showing ourselves love as well as our nearest and dearest