World Mental Health Day 2016

Knowing the value of good mental health after having experienced the disruptive force of losing it, is a great reason to keep the relevance of World  Mental Health Day, October 10th, in mind.

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My experience with acute distress which led to diagnosis and treatment I’m now pleased, and proud to say is well behind me.

Each year that World Mental Health Day  comes round I find time to reflect on that experience 16 years ago, and how it changed my life and also just how far, despite it’s residual effects, I’ve come.

I feel compelled annually to both reflect and contribute a written piece as witness to the value of good support, and attest to the value of  effective listeners and friends, when  one’s own emotional reserves may need ‘patching up’.

The theme of this years World Mental Health Day is two-fold,

Dignity and psychological first aid

Maintaining dignity after experiencing breakdown or trauma isn’t always easy but it’s an aspect of self-worth that’s important to strive for. It’s that inner core of being which aids us regain our sense of self when things get emotionally blurred, or practically chaotic, reminding us,

‘you do deserve to be well and have peace of mind’.

Dignity itself acts like first-aid, it can help people not to be cowed by negative or traumatic experiences.

The World Federation of Mental Health who are responsible for World Mental Health Day say that psychological first aid is primarily,

‘A humanitarian and appropriate response during times of mental health crisis’,

 

the WFMH also acknowledge that it not always situations of crisis which precipitate the need for psychological first aid.

Stress factors that occur either as a result of everyday pressures and mishaps that befall all, the more extreme aspects of mental illness that affect some, and pertinent to this years theme those global issues where major trauma , such as war displaces people from their loved ones and homes.

Some can be alleviated, their effects possibly reduced through particular interventions, the World Health Organisation have an extensive and excellent  report on proposed ways it can be addressed.

As respects individual mental trauma, professionals are the obvious first-aiders when its extreme or acute forms disrupt wellbeing, however it is also good to see WFMH acknowledge that telling our personal stories, related in informal ways, can also act as triage.

With that in mind they are encouraging people to share their own ways of coping with trauma and as an aid to manage their own incidence of trauma. They also give credit to the contribution of non-professionals who come to the aid of those who’s good mental health is disrupted.

On or around  World Mental Health Day,  people are asked to consider getting together with friends or family for ‘tea and talk’ and to use the occasion to consider making a donation to the Mental Health Foundation.

Making time for someone in distress so they can talk through it is a quick, low cost act of first-aid simply but effectively applied.

Put that kettle on! tea-and-talk-logo

Keep your conversations about ways to positive mental wellbeing fresh.

Finding effective personal strategies or accessing relevant available resouces can be a challenge, epecially if ongoing emotional/mental distress sometimes dints your dignity.

May World Mental Health Day find you with your dignity intact.

Sue Margaret

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Compassion is vital in the Workplace

Compassion is essential at work. Sadly even workplaces which are by nature supposed to be compassionate are often not, especially when scratched beneath the surface. 

The workplace can be a difficult area for many of us at times.  We usually work in teams, may have deadlines or targets, we may be placed within a hierarchy, change could be forced upon us, we may feel under-stimulated or over stretched, we may be observed and  judged, things may not be fair and equal and we don’t always feel in control. Phew!  You can see why we need to be resilient in this modern age.  Sadly we don’t always have huge reserves of resilience and may feel below par and not always handle such challenges well.

Problems at work can really knock people and there are huge costs involved – both the impact on people’s lives and financial consequences for society as a whole. People may suffer from stress (work) related illnesses and reactive depression.

It’s true that life can be  complicated and often problems outside of work can increase our difficulties within the workplace and everything can get a bit mixed up. People may be dealing with big issues such as grief, chronic loneliness or perhaps struggling in a relationship.  Lets face it;  life is life, we all face difficulties from time to time.  Employers need to understand this and cater for this with compassion, enabling employees to thrive rather than struggle.

Schemes such as the Mindful employer exist but often they fall short of protecting employees and don’t work.  We need more than tick boxes, we need a culture which supports people rather than punishes people.  We need ethical employers who act with kindness and understanding. We need real living, breathing compassion.  

Managing Mental Health in the Workplace from the Mental Health Foundation.

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BE COMPASSIONATE 

Some people seem inherently more compassionate (it is active) than others, however the good news we can learn about compassion and we can strengthen and develop our compassion muscle.