World Mental Health Day – 10 October 2018

World Mental Health Day doesn’t just happen somewhere else: it’s here in Lancaster too. On 10 October 2018 the University of Cumbria is opening its 2-day Festival of Mental Health on Campus in the city of Lancaster UK. It starts at 9am on Wednesday 10 October and closes at 8pm the following evening, packing in a full programme of events along the way.

You could be forgiven for glazing over at the ubiquitous mental health statistics in the media but there really is no way to sugar the pill – mental ill-health touches 1 in 4 of us every year. It’s often one of those things that creeps up on us due to stresses at work and within the family. Often, our past comes back to bite us when we least expect it. Maybe we know our mental ill-health all too well and have become defeated by it after years of struggle.

Whatever YOUR story, it’s never too late to do SOMETHING about it and when is there a better time to start than on World Mental Health Day? I’ll be there, getting involved and talking to people about what matters to them: engaging with our local community, listening to real stories of the trials and the triumphs of ordinary people who are making a difference to their own mental well-being.

Maybe today is the day YOU decide to do something new and start YOUR journey to better mental health and well-being – maybe I’ll see you there!

Mental Health Awareness – Autumn 2018

There’s always a lot going on in the world of mental health awareness and this autumn is no exception. We’ve had a wonderful Summer in the UK this year, and as it gradually draws to a close, some of us may begin to think about the effects of longer nights and shorter days on our mental health. Maybe, for some, this is a great time to take stock of our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing and plan to improve how we feel this autumn. Not sure where to start or need some inspiration? There are at least three world-wide wellbeing awareness events to look at, packed with information and inspiration for those wanting to know more about mental health and wellbeing. Maybe this is the kickstart you need to think about how to make your own wellbeing a priority this autumn.

10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day, organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organisation. The day seeks to promote commitment to taking action to prevent suicides. Further details can be found at www.iasp.info/wspd/index.php

10th October is World Mental Health Day, promoting the awareness of world-wide mental health issues and seeks to encourage efforts to support mental health. Further details can be found at http://www.who.int/mental_health

November sees National Stress Awareness Day and is usually held on the first Wednesday of November each year. Promoted by the International Stress Management Association (ISMAUK), the purpose of the day is to raise awareness of how psychological stress affects us in the workplace. It also provides information on the coping strategies that can be employed to address it. Further details can be found at www.isma.org.uk/about-national-stressawareness-day-nsad/

These are just a few of the events taking place in the coming months. If nothing else, they may provide the inspiration you need to get serious about your own wellbeing this autumn.

General Data Protection Regulation 2018

The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is effective from 25 May 2018. Well Life Counselling seeks to comply with this regulation in all its dealings with its clients and takes the protection of peoples’ personal data very seriously. In considering your choice of counsellor, make sure that they comply with the GDPR. If you have any questions in relation to this enhanced law please contact me.

2018 New Year Resolutions: Make or Break?

On 1 January 2018, Sky News published an article on new year resolutions entitled: New Year resolutions: How to make 2018 the year you achieve your goals.

It showed the top 10 new year resolutions we all tend to make. At the top of the list was Lose Weight (48%), followed closely by Exercise More (41%) and Save More Money (32%). At number 10 was Cut Down on Alcohol (9%). Alas, it goes on to say that in 2017, one in five of us failed to keep all our resolutions in the first week.

New Year is certainly a wonderful opportunity to reassess what we want in life and make commitments to better ourselves in the coming year but one resolution I never see on any top ten lists is Look After My Mental Well-being. I often wonder whey we miss this – maybe it’s a cultural thing or maybe we are driven in other directions, by social pressures or mainstream or social media, to be successful, have more and be more. This can all be very exhausting, and I wonder whether simply paying more attention to our own well-being is a better use of our energy.

In my work, I’m becoming more and more aware of the importance of looking after our mental well-being and doing so is linked inextricably to physical, social and emotional well-being too. I’m increasingly seeing that there are very specific things that we can do in our everyday lives to help enhance our mental resilience and motivation, so that when life throws us a “curve-ball” – something surprising, unexpected and possibly unpleasant, demanding or even traumatic, we may be better placed to deal with it. On the other hand, when life provides opportunities or new and interesting challenges, we may be better placed to engage with life and say “yes” to new things.

These things that help to motivate us and improve our resilience in life are not rocket science but common-sense lifestyle choices that tend to meet our fundamental human, psychological needs and I’m increasingly engaged in conversations with my clients about these things. If you are thinking about what you can do to improve the way you feel in 2018 and want to talk it over, why not give me a call. Maybe 2018 can be a year of Make and not Break.

Movember 2017

Globally, according to the Movember Foundation, on average a man is lost to suicide every minute and 3 out of 4 suicides are men. I wonder if you are surprised by these figures. Or maybe you are painfully aware of someone who has been lost to suicide. The truth is, men are really bad at talking about feelings. They don’t realise that it’s OK to feel not OK sometimes; that being in touch with their emotions is not a sign of weakness. It takes a certain strength to face up to difficult feelings and emotions when life becomes difficult and men think they must tough it out because that’s what’s expected of them. It’s a lie and it doesn’t need to be that way.

Here’s a thought-provoking video clip from the Movember Foundation on YouTube, which tries to show, yet again, that talking about how we feel is a good thing. Come on guys, reveal your strength – talk about how you feel this Movember.

Well-being Awareness Session: Saturday 30 September 2017

I’m proud to be working with a local charity to deliver another mental well-being information and awareness session in the Sanctuary Room at Lancaster’s Central Library on Saturday 30th September 2017 at 12 noon for 1 hour. This month’s subject will be Mindfulness and how it can help us in the maintenance of our mental well-being day to day. Our brains appear to be hard-wired to constantly concern ourselves with the future or to worry about the past, such that we miss out on really experiencing the present. Being this way can contribute to all sorts of anxieties and low mood. Mindfulness can help put us back in touch with the reality of the present in a way that enriches our experience of life.

 

There will be a presentation and discussion on the subject of Mindfulness and qualified counsellors will be on hand to answer your questions.

 

If you want to join the conversation please come along. You will be made to feel very welcome.

Free Telephone Support for World Suicide Prevention Day – 10 September 2017

In support of World Suicide Prevention Day this year I’m offering FREE telephone support all day on Sunday 10 September 2017 between 9:00 and 17:00 BST. If you’re having thoughts of suicide and want to talk about how you feel, please call me. There’s no obligation and no cost: just an offer of genuine care and a listening ear. There is great power in talking things through and, you know, it’s OK to feel not OK sometimes! Why not call me to talk it through?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) nearly 800,000 people world-wide take their own lives each year and for every one of them there are many more who try and fail. Suicide affects everyone, from close family members to whole communities and the sad thing is that many of these suicides could have been prevented.

People take their own lives when they feel there is no other way out of whatever is troubling them. Is it possible that we could be part of the solution? Every day, many of us will meet someone who is struggling in some way and we will not even know it. But maybe today we will notice when someone is troubled by poor mental health, bereavement, relationship breakdown, pain or some other seemingly insurmountable problem and, just maybe, we will summon the courage to intervene with a genuine “how are you feeling?”.

Let’s be honest. It’s so easy to move through our day without really connecting with other human beings, especially if they’re strangers. It’s hard enough to strike up a simple conversation in a shop, café or in the office so surely, we’re never going to approach the subject of suicidal feelings, right?

But does this really have to be the case? Many people believe that by just mentioning to someone the possibility that they may be having suicidal feelings will somehow ‘put it into their heads’. Let me tell you that there is no evidence whatsoever to support this: on the contrary, you are more likely to find that a person is relieved to have been asked and feel grateful that someone has taken the time to care.

There is someone out there who is thinking of taking their own life. Maybe today we can become part of the solution by asking them how they feel and not being afraid to ask the tough questions. You never know, someone’s life could be saved. For more information on World Suicide Prevention Day see the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP).

Well-being Awareness Event 29 July 2017 (Overcoming Stigma)

I’m proud to be working with the NLCS charity again in July to deliver another mental health and well-being awareness session on Saturday 29 July 2017. In this second of six events we will be discussing the stigma that is so often associated with mental health and how we can seek to overcome it. Stigma often goes hand in hand with discrimination and can adversely affect the lives of many people in society: people who need understanding and support when suffering from a mental health issue. We will discuss and challenge the myths associated with mental health and continue the conversation we started in May to say “it’s OK to feel not OK” sometimes.

This month’s session will take place in Lancaster’s central library, Market Street, Lancaster, LA1 1HY in the Sanctuary Room (upstairs) at 12 noon for 1 hour. Why not try something different and come along to join the conversation. You’ll be made to feel very welcome. See us also on The Bay radio web site in the Bay Action section.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2017

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and is coordinated by the Mental Health Foundation. The theme for the week is “Surviving or Thriving”. The single most important message coming out of this week is that it’s OK to be not OK! I would like to encourage you to stop and think about your own mental health and how you really feel. Celebrities are being seen all over social media this week talking about their own experiences of poor mental health – periods in their lives where they found it hard to deal with their emotional distress. But you don’t have to be famous to talk about how you feel. In my experience, the single most important factor in overcoming emotional distress is to talk about it. Talk to a trusted friend or family member or seek professional help. It’s good to talk!

Well-being Event in Lancaster 20 May 2017

I’m proud to be working with the North Lancs Counselling Service (NLCS) to deliver a Community Mental Well-being Awareness Session in Lancaster on 20 May 2017. It will take place in Lancaster’s central library in the Sanctuary Room beginning at 12 noon and lasting for 1 hour. The topic will be “Motivation – how to stay motivated when in low mood or depression”. Myself and other qualified counsellors will be on hand to answer questions and provide information from our professional experience related to the topic. It will be a chance to bring your own questions and experiences and join the conversation. You will also have the chance to speak one-to-one with one of our counsellors, who will be happy to answer your questions. I look forward to seeing you there. For more information please contact me by phone, email or via my contacts page on this web site.