Why Stress Management is so Important

Stress is an inevitable part of life, and we will all experience it at some point. Although some forms of stress can work as healthy motivation, excessive and constant stress can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health.

In 2018, 74% of adults in the UK felt ‘unable to cope’ from high levels of stress. During this Stress Awareness Month, as part of our mental health awareness aim, we want to promote stress management as a method of improving your mental health.

If you’re experiencing stress, it can be difficult to understand how to manage it. We’ll be discussing stress management techniques and why stress management is important for a happier, healthier life.

How is stress defined?

Stress can be described as a psychophysiological response to both internal and external pressures, which negatively impacts the mental health of an individual. Stress can be an innate reaction to external factors, from relationship issues, financial complications, job-related pressures or an unstable home environment.

During stress, the body can undergo hormonal changes and have an increase in blood pressure, which can have physiological impacts. Stress can impact our health in many ways. While some forms of stress can act as a healthy form of motivation, excessive stress can be damaging to our mental and physical wellbeing.

The emotional impact of stress

Stress can impact our emotional wellbeing in many ways. Here are some side effects of stress:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Moody
  • Frustrated
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Demotivation
  • Panic
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • Lack interest in activities once enjoyed

What are the benefits of stress management?

Improved physical health

Stress can cause physiological changes to the body. We may suffer from fatigue or break out in a rash because our bodies are telling us we need to take a break. Controlling stress levels can lead to an improved hormonal balance and better physical health.

Better mental health

Stress rarely comes alone. In fact, it typically brings a whole bunch of other mental health issues with it! Handling stress levels can improve your mood, reduce anxiety and depression symptoms and bring back your motivation.

Quality sleep

Stress can decrease the quality of our sleep significantly. Not only can we find it difficult to switch off when we feel stressed, but the sleep we do get can often be broken sleep. When you’re stressed, it can feel like no amount of sleep is ever enough. Stress management can decrease our stress levels and can improve the quality of sleep we get which is better for our overall mental and physical health.

Increased productivity

Stress can make us feel overwhelmed and can distract us from focusing on our daily duties. When you decrease stress levels, you will have a clearer mind and will possess more motivation to do things throughout the day.

Successful relationships

When we’re experiencing high levels of stress, we typically lack motivation to foster and maintain positive relationships with friends, family and partners. We can also become more withdrawn and less social.

Decreasing stress levels can make us approach relationships with a positive outlook and can increase our social motivation.

Better coping skills

Stress management can provide individuals with the skills and knowledge they need to manage stressful situations in the future and manage their emotions throughout their lives.

What are some stress management techniques

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a meditation practice that involves the individual being present in the moment and paying attention to their thoughts, feelings, and surroundings without judgement. This includes techniques such as body scanning, mindful deep breathing and mindful eating.

Mindfulness can be incorporated into almost all daily activities, from mindful driving commutes to breathing.

Regular exercise

Exercising is essential for our overall wellbeing; however, the mental benefits of exercise are often overlooked. When we are physically active, we release endorphins into the body which can make you feel good and improve your mental health.

Participating in hobbies

When experiencing high levels of stress, we can often become demotivated to participate in any of our hobbies. However, taking time to experience the things we enjoy can lift our spirits, improve our emotional health and relieve stress.

Here are some ideas for stress relieving hobbies:

  • Yoga or meditation
  • Reading
  • Colouring or drawing
  • Knitting or crochet
  • Gardening
  • Cooking or baking
  • Walking or hiking
  • Listening to music
  • Writing
  • Playing a musical instrument

Time management

When we manage our time efficiently, we feel more confident in our day going to plan. We can tackle tasks in due time and find time for ourselves. We recommend creating a schedule and sticking to it so you stay organised and find time for rest and hobbies that you enjoy.

Social time

Spending time with friends and family members can help us feel more connected and supported. If you’re struggling with stress, it is important to speak to a trusted person in your life who could give you some personalised advice.

Take regular breaks

Overworking our minds and bodies can lead to increased stress levels. Taking regular breaks can give our minds a rest and decrease stress. Whether that break is a holiday, a walk in the park or time for a quick doodle, it will be sure to decrease stress levels.

Shawmind is an early intervention charity. We’re on a mission to improve mental health awareness. Our ‘Understanding Stress’ course can give you the skills and knowledge you need to manage stress.

As a charity, we rely on your donations to provide schools with mental health education. Please consider donating here.

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Strategies for Supporting Children’s Mental Health

Mental health professionals have been pushing for mental health awareness and recognition across the UK. In 2021, it was found that 1 in every 6 children is experiencing a mental health condition. However, Shawmind is working towards providing schools and parents with the resources they need to reduce the number of children facing mental health problems.

If you’re worried about a child or you are wanting to maintain their good mental health, we will be discussing what you can do as a parent, carer or educator.

Understanding children’s mental health

Mental health is defined as a person’s overall psychological well-being. Measurements of mental health include cognitive, emotional and social functioning, including self-esteem, measurements of happiness, how the individual handles stress and more how they interact with others.

Factors that can impact children’s mental health

There are many factors that impact a child’s mental health, including:

  • Genetics
  • Environment
  • Exposure to stresses
  • Eating habits
  • Economic stance
  • Parenting
  • School environment
  • Home environment

What types of mental health problems can children experience?

Children can experience a wide range of mental health problems. Here are a few common mental health problems children may experience.

How to recognise mental health problems in children

Although many adults may find it difficult to speak about their mental health, young children are more vulnerable in society and can often find it difficult to comprehend their own mental health experiences.

Pre-teens and teens may not speak up about their mental health out of worry they may not be understood or believed. This means it is the responsibility of the adults in their life to recognise any potential signs of poor mental health.

Here are a few signs to recognise childhood mental illness.

Changes in mood or behaviour

If a child has had a sudden switch in their behaviour or mood, this could be a sign of a deeper issue.

Physical symptoms

Whether it is sudden weight loss, headaches, fatigue or stomach aches, some mental health problems can manifest into physical symptoms. Some children may also pretend to be physically ill as a way of communicating a deeper issue that they struggle to explain.

Sleep disturbances

Just like adults may struggle to sleep when experiencing anxiety, dealing with stress, depression or other mental health problems, children are the same. Sudden changes in sleeping habits can be a symptom of poor mental health.

Self-harm

One of the more obvious tell-tale signs of a mental health issue. If you detect signs of a child self-harming, this is a serious sign of a deeper mental health problem that needs immediate treatment.

Poor academic behaviour or performance

If a child’s behaviour and academic performance makes a drastic turn for the worse, it is worth investigating, as it could be a sign of poor mental health.

Changes in social habits

Sudden withdrawal from friends, family and teachers and a lack of interest in their usual hobbies and interests can be a sign of poor mental health.

Strategies for supporting children’s mental health at home

Shawmind is an early intervention charity. Our aim is to prevent people from experiencing mental health issues by raising awareness on how to create a mental health positive environment.

As a parent or carer, it is your responsibility to make sure your child’s mental health is supported in the home. Here are a few tips on how to create a safe and supportive environment for your child at home so they don’t experience mental health conditions.

Establish routines

Children feel more safe and secure when they have structure in their lives. Establish a routine for meals, bedtimes and activities. This can also improve their sleep, which can improve their mental health overall.

Open communication policy

Children should feel safe enough to express their emotions and be their true selves. Part of being a supportive parent or carer is to listen to their feelings without judgement, provide emotional support and encourage open dialogue.

Practise positive reinforcement

Recognise any key achievements and positive behaviours with praise and reward to build their self-esteem. Positive self-esteem lays the foundations for good mental health.

Encourage physical activity

Physical health has a large influence over our mental health. Physical activity can release endorphins which are good for the brain and spending time with parents/carers doing physical activities is enjoyable for children.

Limit screen time

Children should have limited access to screen time, even as teenagers. You should encourage activities such as reading, going outdoors, creative play and productive hobbies which can be positive for their mental wellbeing and self-esteem. Social media access should be limited and should be accessed in accordance with the app’s guidelines; all social media access should be monitored to ensure the child’s safety – both physically, mentally and emotionally.

Provide a balanced diet

Processed and sugary foods and drinks have been shown to negatively impact physical and mental health. Children should be provided with a balanced diet that is nutritious, healthy and appropriate for them.

Model healthy behaviours

Children need healthy role models to take after. As a parent or carer, you should model healthy behaviour such as emotional regulation, open dialogue, healthy eating habits, physical exercise, self-care and accessing professional help when you need it.

Strategies for supporting children’s mental health at school

Children and young people spend a large portion of their lives in a school environment, so it is important that schools do everything they can to ensure their environment is healthy and positive.

 

A negative school environment can cause mental health issues in children, so here are a few strategies schools can implement to improve the mental health of students.

 

A positive school environment means children are more likely to feel safe, secure, open about their feelings and comfortable expressing their personality. Schools can foster a positive environment by:

  • Promoting diversity
  • Encouraging involvement in extracurricular activities
  • Providing student leadership positions
  • Creating a culture of respect and empathy
  • Encouraging physical activity
  • Celebrating student achievements
  • Addressing bullying and discrimination promptly and effectively
  • Encouraging family and community involvement
  • Promoting respect
  • Providing access to mental health services
  • Offering mental health awareness education
  • Fostering positive relationships between students and staff
  • Establishing positive role models
  • Encouraging group activity to build relationships
  • Promoting and providing tools through which to develop resilience

Teachers and staff members should be educated on mental health so that they can work to maintain positive mental health for themselves as well as the students in the school.

Through our Headucation programme, Shawmind offers a large variety of mental health courses for schools, as well as a peer mentoring programme free of charge to schools so children and staff can be educated on mental health. You can get involved and support this programme for schools by donating today.

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Breaking the Stigma: Menopause and Mental Health

Women’s mental health is a topic that deserves attention and support.

Mental health problems are common in society, with women being particularly vulnerable to certain mental health conditions due to genetics, hormones, anatomy, neurology and psychosocial structures.

Women go through various stages of life that can affect their mental health, and menopause is a major one of them that until now has received very little attention.

What is the Impact of Menopause on Women’s Mental Health?

Menopause is caused by hormonal changes which arise as a woman gets older – typically occurring between the ages of 44 and 55. The menopausal transition, known as the perimenopause stage, is marked by various physical and psychological changes. These changes place women at a greater risk of developing poor mental health.

Hormonal changes during menopause can cause a decrease in serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. This can lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Mental disorders can also greatly affect women’s health as they approach menopause, and for those who already had mental health issues, menopause can exacerbate these conditions.

What are common mental health issues faced by women going through menopause?

1. Suicide

The onset age of the menopausal stage has been associated with increased suicide rates. Among women, death by suicide is most common among those in the 45-49 age demographic, with the second highest rate in females being between the ages of 50-54 years.

2. Perimenopausal Depression

A common mental health problem among women approaching menopause is perimenopausal depression, which has a broad range of symptoms that can impact mental health.

Symptoms of perimenopausal depression include:

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Low energy
  • Irritability
  • Reduced self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Issues with memory and concentration
  • Weight gain
  • A decrease in sexual interest
  • Paranoia

How can I improve my mental health during menopause?

Firstly, by reducing the stigma around menopause and women’s mental health in general, we can open up the conversation and make women feel less alone and more supported during this challenging time in their lives.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet, doing mindfulness exercises and exercising regularly can help to ease some menopausal symptoms.

There are also various medical and therapeutic treatments that you can talk to your doctor about if you feel these will help relieve some of the mental health impacts of menopause.

Everyone is different so always choose what is right for you.

The Women’s Mental Health Info Guide, provided for free by Shawmind, is an excellent resource for women seeking information on mental health.

The guide provides a wealth of information on the physical and psychological changes that women may experience during menopause and offers practical advice on how to manage mental health as a woman. Shawmind also provides tips for improving mental wellbeing through a variety of useful information guides, workshops and training courses.

Women’s Mental Health Support Services – Useful Contacts & Websites

Menopause Support Services

British Menopause Society https://thebms.org.uk

The Menopause Charity www.themenopausecharity.org

Women’s Mental Health Support Services

Wellbeing of Women www.wellbeingofwomen.org.uk

Wish www.womenatwish.org.uk

Women’s Aid – Until Women and Children are Safe www.womensaid.org.uk

Agenda – Alliance for Women and Girls at Risk https://weareagenda.org/peer-support-programme

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How Sleep Can Improve Your Mental Health and Well-being

Although sleep is an often-overlooked aspect of maintaining good mental health, its importance is undeniable. Research shows around 75% of people with depression also show signs of insomnia. A lack of regular healthy sleep can have negative impacts on your mental health and well-being.

As part of our aim to increase mental health awareness, we want to discuss how sleep can improve your mental health, and what you can do if you feel you aren’t getting enough sleep.

How does mental health affect sleep?

Poor mental health can negatively impact your quality of sleep, and a lack of quality sleep can cause further mental health problems and worsen any existing mental health conditions.

These are a few mental health disorders that can impact sleep:

How does lack of sleep affect the brain?

Our brain needs sleep daily, and without regular, consistent, healthy sleep, we risk developing short-term and long-term negative effects that can impact our mental health and cognitive function.

Common short-term effects of lack of sleep include::

  • Memory difficulties
  • Concentration issues
  • Decreased cognitive function
  • Anxiety
  • Weak immune system
  • Irritability

Over time you can develop long-term issues from lack of sleep. Studies show that prolonged lack of sleep can lead to changes in the brain, making you at risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and chronic depression.

Our bodies are in a state of healing as we sleep, our immune system needs sleep to work properly. With lack of sleep, your immune system is weakened, and you are at increased risk of developing physical illness. Sleep is responsible for regulating hormone balances in the body. A lack of sleep can lead to an imbalance of hormones in the brain which can impact our mood and cognitive function.

How can quality sleep improve mental health?

The mental health benefits of quality sleep are undeniable.

Here are some of the benefits you can experience by improving your sleep.:

1. Improved mood

Sleep deprivation can make you feel tired, moody, anxious, and irritable constantly. Improved sleep leads to improved mood, which improves your general mental health.

2. Improved cognitive function

Our brain relies on sleep for optimal performance. Getting enough healthy sleep can lead to increased cognitive function, improved memory, attention, and a better hormone balance, which means our bodies can function like they should!

3. Reduce risk of mental disorders

Improved sleep can lead to a decrease in risk of disorders such as anxiety and depression, which leads to a better quality of life.

4. Improved overall physical health

Our physical bodies rely on sleep to heal and function effectively. Without proper sleep, we can become unhealthy and reliant on unhealthy foods like energy drinks and sugary foods to function throughout the day. This can lead to a cycle of unhealthy behaviours.

Improved sleep can lead to an improvement in physical health, which can make us feel more positive and mentally healthy.

What are the causes of sleep problems and how can we improve them?

If you’re experiencing sleep issues, it is important to get to the root of the problem so you can understand what you need to do to rectify the issue.

Here are a few things that can cause problems with sleep:

Stress and anxiety

If you’re going through a stressful period in your life, perhaps from work or your personal life, you may find it difficult to fall asleep.

Tips: Try unwinding before bed, practice relaxation techniques and limit your screen time before bed. This can reduce anxiety levels.

If you want to learn more about anxiety and how to treat it, find out more with our anxiety course.

Poor sleep habits

Unhealthy sleep habits include:

  • Staying up late
  • Inconsistent sleep schedules
  • Consuming caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol before bed
  • Eating heavy or spicy meals before bedtime
  • Using electronic devices and social media before bed
  • Lack of bedtime routine

Tips: If your sleep routine involves any of the above, it may be the reason why you suffer from a lack of healthy sleep. Eliminate any poor habits and watch your sleep and mental health improve.

Medical conditions and medications

Some medical conditions such as allergies, chronic pain or sleep disorders can make it difficult to sleep. Similarly, certain medications can cause sleep problems.

Tip: Speak to your doctor about your sleep issues and for any advice they can give you.

Caffeine, alcohol, and poor diet

Your diet plays an important role for your mental health and your sleep. If you have a bad diet, it could be the cause of your sleep problems and this can in turn be impacting your mental health.

Tips: Keep a balanced diet by reducing your junk food, caffeine and alcohol intake to improve your sleep, physical health and mental health.

How much sleep is important for mental health?

The amount of sleep we need changes throughout our lives. It is important that all ages get the sleep they need to maintain good mental health.

Here are the amount of hours of sleep recommended for each year of age:

  • 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
  • 3-5 years: 10-13 hours
  • 6-13 years: 9-11 hours
  • 14-17 years: 8-10 hours
  • 18-25 years: 7-9 hours
  • 26-64 years: 7-9 hours
  • 65+ years: 7-8 hours

If you want to learn more about mental health, enrol on one of our mental health courses today.

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We Need to Pay Attention to Women’s Mental Health

As we celebrate Women’s History Month this March, it’s important to acknowledge the challenges that women face in terms of their mental health.

Women’s mental health is an issue that needs to be talked about more openly and addressed with more care. Societal expectations, gender discrimination, and various forms of violence against women, including sexual assault and domestic violence, can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Women generally react very differently to men in such circumstances, and that’s why it’s crucial to have an honest conversation about women’s mental health and find ways to support and empower women in addressing these challenges.

Why is Women’s Mental Health Important?

Mental health issues affect everyone, but women are three times more likely than men to experience common mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, self harm and suicidal ideation.

This is partly due to the social and economic factors that disproportionately affect women, such as gender discrimination, gender-based violence, and poverty. Women are also more likely to experience some types of traumas, such as sexual and physical assault and repeated domestic violence, which can lead to mental health problems.

There is still a stigma surrounding mental health that prevents many women from seeking help. By paying attention to women’s mental health, increasing mental health awareness and normalising conversation about mental health and wellness, we can break down these barriers and ensure that all women have access to the information, support and care they need.

What Are Signs of Mental Ill health in Women?

Mental ill health can manifest in many different ways, but there are some common signs and symptoms that women should look out for.

Signs of potential mental ill health in women are:

  1. Changes in mood: Women with poor or deteriorating mental health may experience sudden and extreme changes in their mood, such as feeling sad or irritable for no apparent reason.
  2. Changes in behaviour: They may also exhibit changes in their behaviour, such as withdrawing from friends and family, engaging in risky behaviours, or neglecting personal hygiene.
  3. Physical symptoms: Some mental health conditions can also cause physical symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, and stomach problems.
  4. Difficulty coping with daily life: They may find it difficult to perform everyday tasks, such as going to work or caring for their families.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional.

How We Can Increase Mental Health Awareness Among Women?

Here are some ways we can do this:

  1. Encourage open conversation: By talking openly about mental health, we can reduce the stigma surrounding it and encourage women to seek help when they need it.
  2. Educate women about mental health: Providing women with information about mental health and how to recognize the signs of mental ill health can help them identify problems early and seek treatment. If you want to learn more about a couple of the most common mental health challenges, we recommend starting with our Understanding Depression and Understanding Anxiety courses.
  3. Increase access to mental health services: Governments and healthcare providers should work to make mental health services more accessible and affordable for all women.
  4. Advocate for policy change: We need to advocate for policies that address the root causes of mental illness in women, such as gender discrimination and poverty.

What Can You Do To Support Women’s Mental Health?

This Women’s History Month, let’s start the conversation and raise awareness of women’s mental health. By doing so, we can ensure that all women have access to the care they need and reduce the stigma surrounding mental ill health. Let’s work together to support women’s mental health and create a world where everyone can thrive.

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Young people, homelessness and mental health…

At least 271,000 people are recorded as homeless in England, including 122,000 children.

In Europe, young people aged 18-29 represent 20-30% of the homeless population – that is equivalent to as many as 3 in 10 persons under the age of 29 being homeless! Young people who experience homelessness are more likely to experience mental health problems than those who have stable accommodation. More than 1 in 3 (35%) homeless young adults, ages 18-25, reported having a mental health problem.

This is why we need to raise awareness for the mental health of homeless young people in the UK. Everyone has the right to good mental health, regardless of their background or personal circumstances.

Shawmind will be represented by Peter Wingrove (our CEO) at The Big Newark Sleepout 2023 on March 10th to raise money and awareness for improving mental health amongst homeless young people. Funds raised will be used to provide mental health training and support.

The link between homelessness and mental health

Homelessness can have a severe impact on young people’s mental health, leading to depression, anxiety, and trauma.

Living on the streets or in temporary accommodations can cause constant stress, leading to psychological distress. Mental health problems can also arise from the trauma and abuse that many young people face before and during homelessness.

Common mental health problems that can arise during homelessness are:

  • Trauma: Young people who experience homelessness are often exposed to trauma, including physical and sexual abuse, violence, and neglect. 94% percent of homeless youth have been physically victimised and 39% have been sexually victimised. This can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health problems.
  • Social isolation: Homelessness can be an incredibly isolating experience, particularly for young people who may feel disconnected from their peers and support networks. This isolation can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
  • Substance use: Young people who are homeless are more likely to use drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. Over 75% of homeless youth have used drugs or alcohol. Substance use can contribute to or worsen mental health problems.
  • Stigma and discrimination: Homelessness is often stigmatised, and young people who are homeless may experience discrimination and prejudice. This can lead to low self-esteem, shame, and other mental health problems.

Why should we support young people’s mental health?

  1. Mental Health is a Human Right: Everyone has the right to good mental health, regardless of their background or personal circumstances.
  2. Prevention is Key: Investing in early intervention and support for young people’s mental health can prevent more severe and long-term mental health problems in the future.
  3. Social and Economic Benefits: Supporting young people’s mental health can lead to significant social and economic benefits, including reduced homelessness rates, improved employment outcomes, and lower healthcare costs.
  4. Breaking the Cycle: Supporting young people’s mental health can help break the cycle of homelessness and improve their chances of building a stable and fulfilling life.

How can we support young people’s mental health?

  1. Increase Access to Mental Health Services: More mental health services need to be available to young people experiencing homelessness, including outreach teams, counselling, and psychological support.
  2. Supportive Housing: Providing young people with safe, stable, and supportive housing can improve their mental health outcomes and help them to move forward with their lives.
  3. Trauma-informed care: Healthcare and support services need to be trauma-informed, recognizing the complex trauma that many young people have experienced.
  4. Education and Awareness: Raising awareness about the link between homelessness and mental health is crucial in reducing stigma and encouraging more support for young people.
  5. Advocacy and Policy Change: Advocacy and policy change are essential in addressing the root causes of homelessness and mental health problems among young people.

Do you want to improve young people’s mental health?

Join our CEO’s campaign at Big Newark Sleepout on March 10th to raise money and awareness for homeless young people in the UK.

Donate to Shawmind to improve the mental health of young people in the UK through mental health early intervention and education.

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How hearing loss can impact mental health

It’s World Hearing Day!

Let’s work to increase awareness and education of hearing loss impact on mental health this World Hearing Day.

1 in 6 of the UK adult population is affected by hearing loss. It can occur at any age and can be caused by various factors, such as aging, noise exposure, infections, and genetics.

While hearing loss is typically associated with communication difficulties, it can also have a significant impact on mental health.

The Impact of Hearing Loss on Mental Health

Hearing loss can have a range of mental health effects on individuals, including:

  1. Social isolation: Hearing loss can make it challenging to communicate with others, leading to feelings of social isolation and loneliness.
  2. Anxiety and depression: The frustration and difficulty in communication caused by hearing loss can contribute to anxiety and depression.
  3. Cognitive decline: Studies have shown that hearing loss can accelerate cognitive decline, leading to an increased risk of dementia.
  4. Reduced quality of life: Hearing loss can impact a person’s overall quality of life, affecting their relationships, work, and leisure activities.

The effects of hearing loss on mental health can also impact families and caregivers. They may feel frustrated or helpless when communicating with their loved ones, leading to stress and strain in relationships.

Protecting Mental Health Through Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be a challenging condition to manage, especially when it comes to mental health. The mental health effects of hearing loss can often go unnoticed or be dismissed, making it essential to raise awareness and promote strategies for protecting mental health.

Here are some ways to protect your mental health through hearing loss:

  1. Improve communication strategies: Learning new communication styles, such as British Sign Language or Makaton can decrease social isolation and reduce the mental health impact on the person experiencing hearing loss. Simple strategies when communicating with someone who’s going through hearing loss, such as speaking clearly, facing the person when speaking, and reducing background noise can also improve communication and reduce frustration.
  2. Educate others: Educating family members, friends, and co-workers about the mental health effects of hearing loss can help them better understand and support individuals with hearing loss. There are a variety of mental health courses available for individuals to improve their understanding of mental health. Shawmind’s Understanding Depression and Understanding Anxiety courses are ideal to learn how to support those struggling with these mental health issues.
  3. Practice self-care: Individuals with hearing loss may experience increased stress and anxiety, making self-care essential. Regular exercise, meditation, and other stress-reducing activities can help improve mental health and well-being.
  4. Consider therapy: Therapy can be a valuable tool for individuals with hearing loss, particularly if they’re struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions. Therapy can provide a safe space to talk about their experiences and learn coping strategies.
  5. Join support groups: Joining a support group can provide emotional support, reduce social isolation, and help individuals and families learn coping strategies.
  6. Advocate for accessibility: Advocating for accessibility in public spaces and workplaces can help individuals with hearing loss feel more included and reduce social isolation. This can include installing hearing loops, providing captioning or sign language interpreters, and making sure there’s adequate lighting and minimal background noise.

Hearing loss can have a significant impact on mental health, affecting individuals, families, and caregivers but it’s essential to remember that hearing loss doesn’t have to define an individual’s mental health. Working to support the mental health of people with hearing loss is vital, if you want to learn more about mental health, discover our Mental Health courses today.

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Understanding children’s mental health rights in the UK

The growing issue of children’s mental health and wellbeing has become a pressing issue in the UK. 1 in 6 children aged 5 to 16 are struggling with a mental health problem.

However, mental health is still a largely stigmatised and misunderstood aspect of our society. Without proper education and mental health awareness, the issue cannot be improved.

Shawmind is an early intervention charity working towards educating young minds and young adults alike on mental health and emotional wellbeing, and how to manage them effectively.

If you’re a child, guardian, parent, teacher or anyone who works with children, and are wanting to gain an insight into the rights children have surrounding mental health, this article is a starting point on what you need to know.

What is mental health?

To understand how to manage mental health, it is important to understand what it means and what it encompasses. Mental health refers to an individual’s psychological well being, from behaviours, emotions and thoughts.

Mental health can impact how an individual perceives others and how an individual interacts with them. It also encompasses self perception and how a person views the world around them.

Mental health can also impact physical health. Stress hormones can have a physiological impact on our bodies. Poor mental health can lead to feelings of demotivation and low self esteem, which can lead to poor physical health choices. If left untreated for too long, poor mental health can lead to mental health disorders which can be more complicated to treat.

What are children’s mental health acts and rights in the UK?

The current legislation around rights and mental health in the UK sets out that children should not be discriminated against due to a mental health condition nor should they suffer abuse (either mental abuse or physical abuse that can lead to mental health conditions in the future).

Existing legislation also ensures that relevant parties are responsible for all elements of a child’s welfare and that official procedures are in place to assess and treat children with mental health conditions.

From September 2020, education around mental health was also made compulsory in schools, after a campaign spearheaded by Shawmind, then “The Shaw Mind Foundation”, in 2017.

Some current legislations that support children’s mental health are:

Schools (Mental Health and Wellbeing) Bill 2020: Amends the Education Act 2002 and the Academies Act 2010 to provide for schools to promote the mental health and wellbeing of their pupils.

Mental Health Act (MHA) 1983 in England and Wales: Covers the rights of anyone regarding mental health, including young people under the age of 18.

Mental Health Act 2007: This act is an updated version of the 1983 act, making room for more safeguarding measures for children,

Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986: This is the main legislation for mental health of young persons under 18 in Northern Ireland.

Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003: This legislation gives rights to people of all ages with a mental health condition and the wellbeing of children.

Mental Health (Scotland) Act 2015: This legislation is an amended version of the 2003 act.

Some other acts to consider are:

  • The Human Rights Act
  • The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • The Children Act
  • The Education Act

What mental health services are available in the UK?

The main service for children and young people’s mental health is CYPMHS, commonly known as CAMHS ( children and adolescent mental health services). This consists of a variety of specialists that work together within the NHS system. The systems in place can different depending on the region and the local authority.

  • Children’s mental health specialists include:
  • Nurses
  • Social workers
  • Schools and/or colleges
  • Psychologists
  • Children’s wellbeing practitioners
  • Specialist substance misuse workers
  • Occupational therapists
  • Psychological therapists
  • Education mental health therapists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Primary mental health workers

Due to the mental health crisis in children and your adults in the UK currently, the NHS has a long referral waitlist. This means that many young people can go long periods of time with poor mental health without proper support, or their parents are forced to pay for private therapy.

There are free mental health and wellbeing services in all areas of the country. Some of these services are:

  • Childline: A children and young people’s wellbeing and welfare charity. They work with anyone under the age of 19.
  • NSPCC: A charity that works in many aspects of children’s wellbeing and welfare. This includes working with families, schools and local councils to protect children from abuse.
  • Shawmind: An early intervention charity working towards educating children, young people, carers, parents and teachers about mental health through its Headucation programme.

What more can be done to improve children’s mental health in the UK?

Shawmind is an early intervention charity. This means we aim to educate young people about mental health. We aim to reduce the impact of mental health on children in the long term by reducing the number of young people in need of intense clinical support, this can take the weight off the NHS and other mental health support systems.

Early intervention reduces the impact of mental health on children in the long term and reduces the number of young people in need of intense clinical support. It can enable professional services like CAMHS to provide fast and efficient support for those who need it.

Because mental health education isn’t legally required, many schools have to pay to educate their staff and students about mental health. Our Headucation campaign is educating teachers in UK schools about mental health to equip them with the skills to support their students’ mental health.
This includes knowing the factors that put children at risk of developing poor mental health, the signs a child is struggling with mental health and resources to use when having conversations with children about mental health.
These services require funding. As a charity, we rely on donations to make sure we can provide children and young people with the mental health facilities they need to lead happy and productive lives.

We need to do more to protect children’s mental health. Help us raise funds by donating to our fundraiser, buying a product from our store or signing up for one of our mental health training courses – all proceeds will go to Headucation.

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Mental health rights in the workplace: Understanding employer obligations and employee protections

Poor mental health in the workplace can negatively impact employee productivity and the working environment. 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience mental health issues, so it is important that employees and employers alike understand how to deal with mental health in the workplace.

The stigma around mental health means it can be difficult for people to talk about mental health in the workplace. Shawmind is a mental health charity aiming to destigmatise mental illness by providing education on mental health and how to maintain a good mental wellbeing.

If you’re an employee or employer interested in understanding mental health rights and how to support mental health in the workplace, this article is a primer.

What are employer obligations towards mental health in the workplace?

In 2017, the UK Prime Minister commissioned the ‘Thriving at Work’ report. This report established a framework or ‘Core Standards’ to be followed by employers operating companies and organisations of all sizes. These standards are as follows:

  • Craft and execute a comprehensive mental health strategy in the workplace that prioritises the emotional wellbeing of all staff members. The strategy must outline the resources available to those who require assistance.
  • Elevate mental health consciousness among employees by making educational materials, resources, and support easily accessible.
  • Foster open discussions about mental health and the resources available when employees are facing challenges, both during the hiring process and at regular intervals throughout their employment. Offer appropriate accommodations to employees who need them to ensure a supportive work environment.
  • Provide employees with a positive work environment and work-life balance, and offer opportunities for growth and development.
  • Encourage positive people management to ensure all employees have regular check-ins with their line manager, supervisor, or organisational leader about their mental health and wellbeing. Provide training and support for line managers and supervisors in effective management practices.
  • Continuously assess employee mental health and wellbeing by analysing available data, engaging in conversations with employees, and identifying risk factors.

What mental health rights do employees have?

Employers have a duty of care towards their employees. This means that they should promote and support the overall physical health and mental wellbeing of their employees.

If you’re an employee experiencing mental health problems, it is important to speak to your employer about what they can do to accommodate your needs. Many employers offer mental health days. This means you can take a day off from work to recuperate and look after yourself. You are not required to disclose to your employer that you suffer with a mental health condition, but having an honest, confidential discussion with them at an appropriate time can go a long way to helping them to help you.

In the UK, under the disabilities act, employees have an equal right to take days off for mental health as for physical health. Under this act, employers must accommodate any mental health conditions and keep any disclosed medical history confidential.

Other legislation on this topic that you should consult:

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASWA).
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995 & 2005 (DDA).
  • Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA).
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999).
  • Equality Act 2010

Why should employers focus on mental health in the workplace?

Save money

Mental health aid in the workplace can actually save the organisation money. Estimates show that mental health costs the UK employers £45 billion a year. In the workplace, untreated mental health can result in decreased productivity, absenteeism, high staff turnover and presenteeism.

Untreated mental health can also lead to more severe issues, like anxiety, physical illnesses from stress, fatigue and more, which in turn can lead to severe consequences, including suicide.

However, research shows it pays to invest in employee mental health. For every £1 spent on things like Workplace Mental Health Training, employers save an average of £5.

Reduction in employee turnover

Research shows that 42% of UK businesses have lost an employee due to a lack of workplace care for mental health. Talent retention is one of the most important aspects for a successfully functioning organisation.

Data shows that a positive mental health environment in the workplace can help employers keep 42% of staff and 25% of critical staff. Mental health incentives can also be attractive when trying to recruit top talent.

Healthier work environment

We spend a large portion of our lives at work, it should be a healthy environment that we enjoy being in. Having mental health support can make employees feel more valued and appreciated.

What can employers do to support mental health in the workplace?

Employers are responsible for the wellbeing and welfare of their employees. It is important to try and detect mental health issues in the workplace early. Not everyone is comfortable making the initial steps to reach out for help, so leaders should be vigilant.

As an employer, if you detect any of the following signs in your employees, it is important to try and have a conversation with your employee to see what support you can provide. Similarly, if you detect signs of any of the following as an employee, reach out to your employer to find out about what they can do to help:

  • Retreat from social events
  • Lack of enthusiasm for work or daily routines
  • Irrational fears, distrust, or worry
  • Substance abuse/misuse
  • Diminished involvement
  • Rise in absences
  • Atypical conduct
  • Alterations in sleep or dietary habits
  • Variations in work routines
  • Decline in efficiency

Many organisations have Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) that include mental health options, but studies show that the average uptake of EAPs is around 33%. Employers should regularly and visibly communicate the EAP access methods and benefits to staff.

Employers can play a crucial role in supporting the mental wellbeing of their employees through various means. As an employer, here are a few things you can do to support mental health in the workplace:

  • Encouraging open and supportive communication creating a positive work atmosphere.
  • Providing flexible work arrangements, including remote work or flexible working hours, to promote work-life balance.
  • Providing mental health training and resources to managers and employees to raise awareness and understanding.
  • Taking proactive measures to prevent workplace stress and burnout by managing workload and promoting a healthy work environment.
  • Creating a safe, inclusive and supportive work environment that prioritises mental health and wellbeing.

If you’re an employer looking to establish mental health measures in the workplace, check our mental health training courses. If you want to build a mental-health positive organisation, consider donating to Shawmind to help Headucate young people about mental health.

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How to have fun without alcohol: A guide to a sober social life

Whether you’re quitting alcohol for physical health or mental health, there are many ways you can have fun while avoiding alcohol. Although drinking culture is extremely prevalent in the UK, there are many ways you can have fun without a drink.

Shawmind is an early intervention charity, working towards educating people to have the knowledge and understanding on how to look after their mental health. Whether you’re wanting to quit alcohol for mental health reasons, financial reasons or productivity reasons, in this article, we’ll be giving you an insight into how to have fun without the alcohol.

What are the benefits of a sober social life?

Improved physical and mental health

Although it may seem harmless, alcohol is a drug. This means that long-term usage can have serious physiological and psychological effects. This includes liver failure, dementia, breast cancer, depression, anxiety and more.

A life without alcohol returns your body to its natural, alcohol-free state, which allows it to flourish and function how it is meant to.

Increased productivity

A life without alcohol can bring your energy back. Staying sober can increase the quality of your sleep and make you feel more energised. You’ll have a better mental and physical state which can make you feel more motivated.

Cut costs

The cost of your social life doubles or even triples when factoring in the cost of alcohol. You’ll be saving tons of money that you can put towards more necessary things if you cut it out. Not only will you be saving on alcohol, but you’ll be saving on taxis too!

Improved relationships

A sober mind is a clear mind. Without alcohol, you will be able to approach relationships with a clear mind. You will also have more energy and motivation to spend time with family and children. This can develop stronger relationships.

Better clarity and perspective

The physical and physiological effects when you stop drinking can give you a better outlook on life. Because you feel better, you will have better thoughts, and feel more motivated to look after yourself. You will also start to realise how to have fun with meaningful people, hobbies and interests.

How to socialise without alcohol

So much of adult social situations in the UK is centred around alcoholic drinks. From evenings out with friends, to pub-Fridays after work, it can be difficult to understand how to restructure your life to be alcohol-free.

Here’s a few things you can do to have a good time without drinking.

Creative pursuits

Pick a creative hobby that you might be interested in. This can be photography, painting, pottery or cake decorating! Find time to work on your creative interests. Find like minded people in your creative field, this will allow you to have a social network where alcohol isn’t the common ground.

Volunteer work

If you want to do something beneficial and productive for the community, volunteer work is a great way of helping those who need it. You could even work with those wanting to get sober. Or, you could help homeless people whose lives have been affected by alcoholism and substance abuse.

Fitness and sports

When you stop drinking, your body will become much healthier and energised. Use this newfound energy to work on your physical and mental health by taking up exercise. This can be anything from walking on the treadmill, playing tennis or learning yoga.

You can join classes at your local fitness centre and make good friends with people with the same interests as you.

Cultural events

Concerts, festivals, museums and theatre shows are designed to be enjoyable without alcohol! Watching your favourite artist or show is a fun activity, and you are guaranteed to enjoy it without feeling like you need a drink.

Game nights

Game nights are great social events where friends and family can get together and have fun. Rather than serving alcohol, opt for your favourite snacks and let everyone know it will be a sober night. This way, you’ll feel comfortable and won’t feel pressured to drink.

How to build a social circle

Being around people who drink can be difficult for sober people. Although some may be comfortable with it, other sober people may prefer to opt out of drinking events and choose to develop a sober social agenda.

For this, you’ll need to develop a sober social circle. Here’s a few things you can do:

  • Find sober people in your area through online communities
  • Make social connections through shared interests and passions
  • Host alcohol free gatherings like a sober games night
  • Attending sober events
  • Join a sober society if you’re a student at university
  • Join clubs and groups focused around a shared interest, like a book club or football club.
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