Thoughts & Ideas

It’s Mental Health Awareness week!

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, which is running from May 9 through May 15, 2022. The year, The Mental Health Foundation has decided to focus on the theme of loneliness. This week will focus on what it means to be lonely, how it affects our mental health, and how we can all help to reduce loneliness.

What does it mean to be lonely?

Loneliness can be caused by a variety of factors that range from person to person. Some people may feel lonely because of a life event, while others may feel lonely at various periods of the year. It’s vital to keep in mind that emotions of loneliness can shift throughout time and depend on the situation.

Thoughts that nobody needs or wants you, or that you don’t have any significant relationships are some of the feelings you could experience when you’re lonely.

Loneliness can also manifest as:

  • Feeling tired or lacking energy.
  • Caring about material possessions or frequently shopping.
  • Cravings for physical warmth such as taking long, hot showers, hot drinks and cosy blankets.
  • Binge-watching TV or spending excessive time on social media.
  • Increased stress levels or an inability to focus.
  • Feeling run down or frequently getting sick.
  • Insomnia or interrupted sleep.
  • Feelings of self-doubt, hopelessness or worthlessness.
  • Feeling anxious or restless.

How does loneliness affect your mental health?

Loneliness has been linked to despair and anxiety and can have a significant influence on mental health. Loneliness isn’t a mental health issue in and of itself, but the two are intertwined and frequently manifest at the same time. Having a mental health condition, for example, might make you feel lonelier. Similarly, loneliness may have a bad influence on your mental health, especially if it lasts for a long period.

Loneliness can be caused by a variety of mental health disorders, such as social anxiety. People who suffer from social anxiety may find it difficult to participate in ordinary activities that involve other people, resulting in a lack of meaningful social interaction and, as a result, feelings of loneliness.

How can we help those experiencing loneliness?

You may have a suspicion that someone is lonely before they are aware of it themselves. For a variety of causes, they may have gotten more isolated. Perhaps they’ve gone through a life transition, such as retirement, loss, or illness, making them more vulnerable to loneliness.

Here are some ways to help those who are experiencing loneliness:

Make yourself available

One of the nicest things you can do if you know someone who is lonely is to show them that you are available. Keep in touch with them by calling, visiting, or emailing them regularly. Loneliness can be linked to other issues such as sadness or loss, which can lead to individuals withdrawing and avoiding company. They may not always want to speak with you, but don’t give up on them if they don’t answer your calls or visits. Respect their desire for privacy while reassuring them that you’ll be there for them if they need you.

If you would like to make yourself available to help those struggling with loneliness and other mental health issues, you can register to volunteer with Shawmind.

Ask if you can help

You may volunteer to take the person you’re worried about out if they live in a remote area or find it difficult to go. Don’t force them to do anything. However, if they appear to be interested in a specific activity, you may assist them in figuring out how to get there or volunteer to accompany them to make it less intimidating.

You could inquire as to whether they are receiving any assistance. For example, you might assist them in arranging a care needs evaluation if they want assistance at home. You could also assist them in being active and eating properly so that loneliness does not negatively affect their health.

If you would like to learn more about helping people who are experiencing loneliness, or whose loneliness is affecting their mental health, Shawmind’s 2 Day Mental Health First Aid course may be perfect for you.

Check how they are feeling

Try to chat to them about how they’re feeling without pressuring them to discuss a certain topic. It’s possible that what you see as loneliness stems from something else that is bothering them.

People may feel more at ease talking to a stranger or a professional than they do with someone close to them. In this case, try putting them in touch with a mental health charity such as Samaritans.

Be dependable

Whatever you do, try to be dependable. Forgetting a promised phone call may not seem significant to you, but it may be quite frustrating for someone who has little contact with others. If you’re too busy or live too far away, ask if someone else can assist you in ensuring that the individual sees or speaks to someone frequently. This might be a friend, relative, neighbour, or a volunteer for a charity.

If you are experiencing loneliness, please reach out to someone, and check out our tips to combat loneliness.

Interested in learning more about mental health?
If you want to learn more about mental health, how to prevent issues, manage it, and support those with issues, sign up for our CPD Certified Mental Health Awareness Course. You can complete it in your own time (approx. 3 hours) and all proceeds go to our #Headucation campaign to provide training to teachers that helps them support school children with their mental health.

Read more

How to support someone struggling with stress?

Stress is one of the most common mental health conditions that everyone is likely to experience at some point in their lives. While small amounts of stress can help us to react quickly in some situations and respond with productive solutions, continuous and extreme levels of stress can have the opposite effect causing us to be slow to respond and see a decrease in our productivity.

Stress produces cortisol, which over time can have significant negative effects on our physical health (e.g. heart problems, digestive issues, and weight changes) as well as our mental health – leading to depression and anxiety.

If you think someone is struggling with stress, here are some simple ways you can support them.

Listen

Simply talking about how you’re feeling and what’s making you feel stressed can be a great outlet for people who are struggling. Voicing your feelings can make them feel more manageable and help you find solutions much more easily.

Make it known that you are there to listen if they need you and even start the conversations if they seem hesitant themselves.

Never underestimate the power of asking “how are you?”

Help them to relax

It can be difficult for people who are struggling with stress to relax. Even in their downtime, they’re likely to be thinking about and dwelling on the things that are causing them stress – making it difficult to truly switch off and recover.

Make the first move and invite them to do relaxing activities (e.g. a walk, movie night or spa session) with you.

Read more: How can mindfulness help with stress?

However, depending on the person and the cause of stress, they may not respond well to you trying to ‘distract’ them from their problems. In this instance, find small ways you can help to free up their time (like running errands or doing chores) so that they can then relax on their own terms.

Identify triggers

It can help both you and the person struggling with stress if you identify triggers that make their stress worse. This can help you avoid the triggers altogether, or, if that’s not possible, prepare for them and practice coping techniques.

For example, if you find that hunger and dehydration tend to make their feelings of stress worse, encourage them to carry around snacks and a bottle of water to limit how often these triggers can impact them.

Find solutions to overall causes of stress

As well as the triggers for momentary occurrences of stress, it is useful to know what is causing longer-term stress. These are often more difficult and complex to solve, but simply having an understanding of them can help you to empathise with and support those close to you.

Common causes of long-term stress include financial difficulties (e.g. debt), workplace pressures, caring responsibilities, and lifestyle transitions (e.g. moving house).

Ultimately, finding a solution to these overall causes of stress would be a massive help to those who are struggling. For example, putting those with financial struggles in touch with a debt advisor, or helping those with difficulties at work find new employment.

However, in reality, many of these common causes of stress are rooted in complex issues that take time to be fully resolved. Again, those struggling with stress may appreciate it more if you can find ways to help them with the everyday tasks in life (e.g. school pick-ups or shopping trips) so that they have more time to work on resolving these issues themselves.

822,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2020 – 2021. Stress can significantly impact productivity, long-term health, and morale at work. Make sure your company is equipped to support employees with stress and other common mental health conditions by completing our 2 Day Mental Health First Aid course or our Mental Health For Managers training programme.

Help them stay physically healthy

Many of the behaviours and coping techniques people have for stress can actually make stress worse in the long run.

According to research by the Mental Health Foundation, 46% of people in the UK reported that they ate too much or ate unhealthily due to stress. 29% reported that they started drinking or increased their drinking, and 16% reported that they started smoking or increased their smoking.

While their focus is on the stressful situation, do what you can to help them stay active, hydrated, and well-nourished. Invite them for a walk, invite them for dinner (or help them prepare it if you live together), and avoid outings that would encourage unhealthy behaviours.

It can be heart-breaking when those we care about are struggling with mental health conditions like stress. These tips can help you support them without being overbearing or condescending.

If you want to learn more about stress, how to prevent it, manage it, and support those with it, sign up for our Understanding Stress online course. You can complete it in your own time (approx. 1 hour) and it only costs £30. All proceeds go to our #Headucation campaign to provide training to teachers that helps them support school children with their mental health. Adults need help dealing with stress – so why do we expect kids to manage it on their own?

Read more

6 Facts about stress you might not know

Stress has a variety of physical and emotional effects on us, with varying degrees of intensity. Not everyone reacts to stress in the same way, and what one person finds stressful may not be for another.

Everyone is affected by stress at some point in their lives, but how much do you truly know about it? Here are 6 facts about stress that you might not know.

1. Stress is a hormonal reaction from the body

This reaction all starts with the part of your mind known as the hypothalamus. When you’re stressed, the hypothalamus sends indicators to your nervous system and kidneys. In turn, your kidneys launch stress hormones. These include adrenaline and cortisol.

2. Everyone is affected by stress in different ways

Stress manifests itself in a variety of ways, and not everyone will experience it in the same way. Some people are more impacted by emotional symptoms like concern, restlessness, and irritation, whilst others are more affected by physical symptoms like headaches, muscular tension, and digestive problems.

3. Some types of stress can be good for you

For a healthy and exciting existence, a sort of stress known as ‘eustress’ is necessary and beneficial. Eustress is the sort of stress you feel on a roller coaster (if you appreciate fast rides), when playing a pleasant game, or while you’re falling in love.

We feel energetic and alive when we are experiencing eustress. Chronic stress, on the other hand, is a very different issue!

4. Some “stress relievers” actually make things worse

Most of us have a few unhealthy coping mechanisms for dealing with stress. Unfortunately, most of these ‘bad habits,’ while enjoyable at the time, may lead to far greater stress in the long term.

If you smoke, drink too much, spend too much, or manage stress in a way you know isn’t healthy for you, look for tools to help you understand how you’re currently affecting your stress levels and how to cope in a better way. Our Understanding Stress course can teach you what stress is and how to deal with it effectively.

5. Headaches can be caused by stress

Muscle tension caused by stress might result in headaches. It also causes your body to emit certain chemicals, which might cause migraines for some people. If you suffer from migraines, you may notice that you have more headaches during stressful times.

Eat frequently, drink lots of water, and try some of your favourite breathing techniques to stay relaxed throughout the day to reduce your risk of headaches.

6. Stress can be successfully managed

Fortunately, there are several methods for managing stress. Eating a good, balanced diet, exercising regularly, and using various relaxation techniques can all help you decrease stress and enhance your physical and mental health.

If you are interested in learning more about stress, our CPD Accredited Understanding Stress course is perfect for you. Our Understanding Stress course teaches the learner what stress is, how it can be managed and prevented, and how you can support someone who is struggling with stress.

For more information on stress, including stress management, download our free stress guide.

At Shawmind, we want to make it easier for everyone to handle moments of poor mental health by reducing stigma and increasing awareness of support options. That’s why all funds raised through our online courses support Headucation – our mission to train teachers in the basics of mental health support of children.

Help us improve mental health support for young people!

Donate

Training

Get in touch

Read more

How can mindfulness help with stress?

As April is Stress Awareness Month, we want to bring light to the benefit of mindfulness in the management of stress. Currently, there are 822,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, whilst 66% of school-age children are experiencing stress about school, exams and homework. These high figures emphasise the need for stress management and minimisation techniques. Most of the time, regardless of the situation we are experiencing, there are a variety of techniques out there to cope with what is happening. Practicing mindfulness gives us another great option for coping with and reducing stress.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Improves wellbeing

Being mindful makes it simpler to enjoy life’s pleasures as they happen, to get completely engaged in activities, and to cope with negative situations. Many individuals who practise mindfulness find that by focusing on the present now, they are less likely to be obsessed with anxieties about the future or regrets about the past and are better able to build strong relationships with others.

Improves mental health

Mindfulness is seen as an important element in the alleviation and treatment of several mental health illnesses. These include, stress, anxiety and depression, amongst many others.

Improve physical health

Mindfulness techniques can also help improve physical health. People often use mindfulness to help relieve stress, lower blood pressure, cope with chronic pain, and improve sleep.

How can mindfulness help manage stress?

1. You become more in tune with your thoughts.

You can then step back from them and not take the extreme ones so literally. That way, your stress response is not triggered in the first place. This leads to not immediately reacting to a situation. Instead, you have a moment to pause and then use your calm mind to come up with the best solution.

2. Your ability to focus increases

This allows you to complete your work more efficiently. Mindfulness can give you have a greater sense of well-being, and this reduces the stress response.

3. You can switch your attitude to the stress.

Rather of focusing on the negative consequences of being stressed, mindfulness allows you to think about stress in a new way. Observing how increasing pressure can make you feel more energised has a good impact on your body and mind.

4. You are more aware and sensitive to the needs of your body.

Mindfulness switches on your “being” mode of mind, which is associated with relaxation. Your “doing” mode of mind is associated with action and therefore, often the stress response. Through this “being” state of mind, you will be able to focus on how your body really feels and provide it with what it needs. You may notice pains or emotions that previously you could not pinpoint, and this allows you to take appropriate action to soothe them.

5. You are more aware of emotions.

Through mindfulness, and being in touch with your own emotions, your level of care and compassion for yourself and others rises. This compassionate mind soothes you and inhibits your stress response. As your emotional intelligence rises, you are also less likely to get into conflict with others as you have more understanding of their feelings.

Are you interested in learning more about mindfulness?

Our 6-week Mindfulness course teaches the learner what mindfulness is, the importance of mindfulness in relationships, the neuroscience of self-compassion, and an understanding of how to apply mindfulness in your life.

Our CPD Accredited Understanding Stress course teaches the learner what stress is, how it can be managed and prevented, and how you can support someone who is struggling with stress.

For more information on how stress, including stress-management through mindfulness, download our stress guide.

At Shawmind, we want to make it easier for you to handle moments of poor mental health by reducing stigma and increasing awareness and support options. That’s why all funds raised through our online courses support Headucation – our mission to train teachers in the basics of mental health support.

Read more

6 Ways to Manage Stress

At some point in our lives, we have all felt the effects of stress; it is an unavoidable part of life. Whilst we are all familiar with what it feels like, we may struggle to accurately define what we mean when we say stress.

Stress is the sensation of being under an abnormal amount of pressure. This pressure might come from a variety of sources in your daily life: increased workload, transitional moments, family feuds, or new / existing financial concerns are just a few examples. It often has a cumulative effect, with each stressor piling up on top of the others.

You may feel threatened or upset in certain situations, and your body may react with a stress response. This can result in several physical symptoms, as well as changes in your behaviour and more intense emotions.

Stress affects us in many ways, both physically and mentally, with varying degrees of severity. Not everyone will experience stress the same way, and what may be considered stressful for one person, may not for another. Here are 6 ways we recommend managing stress:

1. Stay Active

Exercise won’t make your stress go away, but it can help you cope with your emotions by clearing your thoughts and letting you deal with your problems more calmly.

You do not have to engage in intense physical exercise if you are not feeling up to it, even just going out and getting some fresh air, or taking some light physical exercise, like going for a walk to the shops can really help. Of course, going to the gym, running, swimming and any other forms of exercise are also great!

2. Take a Break

We often work very long hours, which means we don’t always spend enough time doing activities we enjoy. Set aside a couple of nights a week for some quality “me time” away from work, whether it’s for socialising, relaxation, or fitness.

3. Talk About It

A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your work troubles and help you see things in a different way. Connecting with people will ensure you have support to turn to when you need help.

The activities we do with friends help us relax. We often have a good laugh with them, which is an excellent stress reliever.
Talking things through with someone will help rationalise and understand your feelings, and often can help you find solutions to your problems.

4. Understand Your Triggers

MHFA Stress Container

Take time to understand what is causing you stress, and why you feel like you can’t manage it. Perhaps it is poor time-management, lack of self-confidence, other mental health illnesses, or simply that you are not equipped with the practical skills and knowledge to overcome your situation. Understanding what is triggering your stress often, in itself, helps alleviate it.

Sort the possible reasons for your stress into three categories: 1) those with a practical solution 2) those that will get better given time and 3) those you can’t do anything about. Try to release the worry of those in the second and third groups and let them go.

Sometimes we can find it hard to understand our emotions and what is causing them. By taking part in this Understanding Emotional Intelligence course, you can gain the skills and knowledge you need to understand yourself fully, and cope with your emotions in a positive manner.

5. Take Control

Every problem has a solution. Your stress will worsen if you remain passive, thinking, “I can’t do anything about my problem.” One of the main reasons for stress and a lack of wellbeing is a sense of loss of control.

Taking control is empowering in and of itself, and it is a vital component of finding a solution that satisfies you rather than someone else. Setting yourself goals and challenges, whether at work or outside, such as learning a new language or a new sport, can help build confidence. Having confidence in your own capabilities can often help you deal with stress when it arises.

Don’t rely on alcohol, cigarettes, or caffeine to help you cope. These quick releases will not fix your difficulties in the long run, instead, they’ll form new ones. It’s the equivalent of burying your head in the sand. It may bring temporary respite, but it will not solve the problems. You must address the source of your stress.

Through taking online classes specifically designed to help you to manage stress, you can learn to manage and prevent stress, as well as how to support others who are struggling with stress. Shawmind offer an Understanding Stress self-learning course, that will provide you with the knowledge and skills to manage your personal stress and help others with theirs.

6. Be Positive and Kind to Yourself

Try to look for the positives in life and things to be thankful for, work on seeing the glass half full rather than half empty.
At the end of each day, write down three things that went well or that you are grateful for. This is a great way to reflect on your day, highlighting and focussing on the good parts.

Want to learn more about managing stress?

Our CPD Accredited Understanding Stress course teaches the learner what stress is, how it can be managed and prevented, and how you can support someone who is struggling with stress.

For more information on stress, download our stress guide.

At Shawmind, we want to make it easier for you to handle moments of poor mental health by reducing stigma and increasing awareness and support options. Help us do this for the next generation by supporting Headucation – our mission to train teachers in the basics of mental health support.

Read more

Let’s Improve Bipolar Disorder Awareness

World Bipolar Day is observed on March 30th every year, on the renowned Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh’s birthday after he was posthumously diagnosed with bipolar disorder. World Bipolar Day educates and advocates for the spread of information and de-stigmatisation of bipolar disorder.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme (depression) to the other (mania). Bipolar disorder used to be known as manic depression.

People with bipolar disorder have episodes of:

  • depression – feeling very low and lethargic
  • mania – feeling very high and overactive

Symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on which mood you are experiencing.

Unlike simple mood swings, each extreme episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks (or even longer). These swings in mood are sometimes called mood episodes or mood states. Not everyone experiences mood episodes in the same way or for the same amount of time.

If you would like to learn more about bipolar disorder, Shawmind’s online course “Understanding Bipolar Disorder” will teach the learner about what bipolar disorder is, how it affects people, how it can be managed and how you can support someone struggling.

How can you help someone struggling with bipolar disorder?

Dealing with the highs and lows of bipolar disorder can be difficult—and not just for the person with the illness. Everyone around a person with bipolar disorder is affected by their emotions and behaviours, especially family members and close friends. It might put a strain on your relationship or cause friction in your home.

You may encounter irrational behaviour, excessive demands, volatile outbursts, and questionable judgments during a manic episode. And once the mania has passed, you might have to help pick up the slack for a loved one who doesn’t have the stamina to accomplish tasks at home or work during depressive periods.

The good news is that with adequate treatment, medication, and support, most people with bipolar disorder can stabilise their moods. Your patience, compassion, and understanding can go a long way toward helping your loved one get better. Having someone to talk to can often make an enormous difference in a person’s outlook and motivation.

You can support someone with bipolar disorder by:

1. Learning about bipolar disorder.

Learn everything you can about the symptoms and treatment options. The more you know about bipolar disorder, the better equipped you’ll be to help your loved one and keep things in perspective.

2. Encouraging the person to get professional help.

The sooner bipolar disorder is treated, the better the prognosis, so urge your loved one to seek professional help right away. Don’t wait to see if they will get better without treatment.

3. Being understanding.

If they need a sympathetic ear, encouragement, or treatment support, let them know you’re there for them. People with bipolar disorder are sometimes hesitant to seek help because they don’t want to burden others, so reassure them that you care and will do everything you can to assist them.

4. Showing patience.

Getting better takes time, even when a person is committed to treatment. Expect neither a speedy recovery nor a long-term cure. Be patient with the recovery process and prepare for setbacks and hardships. Bipolar disorder management can be a lifetime process.

Shawmind offer a 2-day Mental Health First Aid Course, which teaches the skills and knowledge for the learner to act as the first point of contact for anyone who wants to discuss their mental health. A mental health first aider can provide advice and support in a confidential, non-judgemental way before a professional mental health specialist is contacted.

Shawmind’s Mental Health First Aid course costs £250 per person– discounts are available for group bookings of 6-12 people. Contact us for more information, available dates, or to make a booking.

Read more

Minimising Stress and Anxiety in the Classroom

A common mental health disorder such as anxiety or depression affects 1 in 6 young individuals. Although 75% of diagnosable mental health issues appear before the age of eighteen, it takes an average of ten years to acquire adequate treatment.

Since depression and anxiety are among the top causes of mental illness and disability among adolescents, it is critical for those who work with children to be conscious of minimising stress and anxiety in the classroom and to be able to spot the signs of a child in distress.

What are the signs of stress and anxiety in the classroom?

With children spending seven hours a day at school, teachers need to know the signs of stress and anxiety. Here are some signs that teachers should be aware of:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor performance
  • Feeling tired
  • Change in eating habits
  • Easily angered or irritated
  • Frequent toilet visits
  • Constant worrying and negative thoughts
  • Complaining of physical pain like stomach aches and headaches
  • Emotional outbursts (e.g., crying or tantrums)
  • Being clingy
  • Disruptive behaviour

Symptoms of mental health conditions can often overlap (i.e. they are often ‘comorbid’). Also, a single instance may not always be cause for concern however if you notice multiple instances or a prolonged period of emotional and physical symptoms, longer than two weeks, for example, you should seek professional help.

Some schools have a designated mental health lead, a Mental Health First Aider, or Youth Mental Health First Aider, however, having all staff equipped with the ability to recognise mental health symptoms and the ability to support your Mental Health First Aider / designated mental health lead will lay the foundations for you to provide the necessary support to all students and create a positive classroom environment.

You’ll be better equipped to help someone struggling with mental health and facilitate their recovery if you understand the symptoms. All these topics and more are covered in our Basics of Mental Health Support training course, which provides an introduction to the mental health process. Or, how about placing teachers on our CPD-accredited Youth Mental Health Awareness course.

What can be done to reduce stress and anxiety in the classroom?

The best thing you can do to help reduce stress and anxiety in the classroom is to understand what factors affect mental health and work on limiting these.

There are occasions when factors in a child’s school environment can have an impact on their mental health, for example, public speaking, unfamiliar transitions and bullying. Identifying these factors can help you better understand how to help someone who is going through a difficult time. Cyberbullying, for example, can have a negative impact on young people’s mental health.

Understanding what it is, how it occurs, and how it affects people’s mental health can enable you to provide support to individuals who are affected while also reducing their exposure to it in the school setting.

We offer a variety of self-learning courses available to help you improve your mental health knowledge and provide the best possible environment for your classroom.

How can pupils be supported through stress and anxiety?

1. Start a conversation about mental health

One of the best ways to ensure mental health is spoken about in your classroom is to raise the topic yourself. This will increase the children’s awareness, reduce stigma around the topic and increase the likelihood that they will seek help when they need it.

We love starting with:

“Tell me about a time when you were happy/sad/stressed…”

“How well do you feel on a scale of 1-10?”

Opening up this conversation can feel daunting and adults often worry they will say or do the wrong thing. Here are some tips on talking to children about mental health that we find effective.

2. Read about mental health

Providing books that discuss various aspects of mental health is also great for creating an open space for mental health discussions. These books can also help children develop empathy towards people struggling with mental health issues, reduce stigma surrounding the topic and create confidence to seek help when it is needed.

Here are some children’s mental health books that we love. These range from short, fun, illustrated tales for younger children to longer features suited to older children and teenagers.

3. Mental health classroom activities

Sometimes the best learning is done through fun! We suggest opening up a mental health dialogue through doing engaging activities with the class. There are lots of great activities available online that tackle mental health in an age-appropriate way, allowing for children to learn how to articulate their thoughts and feelings.

Our #SockItToStigma activity pack can be a fun starting point to open opportunities to speak about mental health, breaking the stigma around this serious subject.

4. Complete mental health training courses

At Shawmind, we offer a wide variety of mental health courses designed for individuals and professionals to develop their understanding of mental health, learn how to best support young people, and what to do in an emergency.

We are also raising funds for our Headucation campaign that will enable us to offer free mental health education for teachers. We are mobilizing corporate sponsors and individuals to help us bring about a transformation in the mental health of the next generation: working with local educational authorities and partner organisations we are bringing a whole-school approach to mental health, helping schools to develop a culture shift towards sustainable better mental health and wellbeing – free of charge to the schools.

Help us by donating, fundraising or signing up for one of our courses.

Donate to #Headucation2025

Book Mental Health Training

View Our Store

Read more

Why are mental health first aiders important in the workplace?

In the same way you would plan for the risk of physical harm in the workplace, having a colleague with mental health first aid training is a crucial tool for keeping your team’s wellbeing front and centre.

Employees who are in good mental health are more likely to work productively, form strong relationships with their co-workers, show up for work regularly, and be more engaged with the organisation.

Mental health issues are common in the workplace though often not spoken about. Anxiety and depression are the two most common conditions in the workplace, and still today many people are not well informed or knowledgeable about what these are, how they occur, and what can be done about them.

What is mental health first aid?

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an internationally recognised training programme that teaches people how to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health struggles and provide help on a first aid basis.

Incorporating MHFA training into any organisation or community also helps individuals to talk about mental health more openly, decreasing stigma and fostering a more positive workplace wellbeing culture.

What do mental health first aiders do?

A mental health first aider acts as the first point of contact for anyone who wants to discuss their mental health. This interaction could range from having an initial conversation through to supporting the person to get appropriate urgent help. As well as in a crisis, Mental Health First Aiders are valuable in providing early intervention help for someone who may be developing a mental health issue. The MHFA trained employee can provide active listening and guidance in a confidential, non-judgemental way and can signpost the person to useful resources available within the organisation and externally.

Mental Health First Aiders are not trained to be counsellors, therapists or psychiatrists, but they can offer initial support through non-judgemental listening and guidance.

Mental Health First Aiders are trained to:

  • Spot the early signs and symptoms of mental ill-health
  • Start a supportive conversation with a colleague who may be experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress
  • Listen to the person non-judgementally
  • Assess the risk of suicide or self-harm and escalate to the appropriate emergency services, if necessary
  • Encourage the person to access appropriate professional support or self-help strategies.
  • Maintain confidentiality at all times, only disclosing to the person’s line manager or HR with their consent

Why are mental health first aiders important in the workplace?

Having employees educated in mental health first aid ensures that there is always someone in the office who can identify the first signs of a colleague in distress as soon as they appear. This means that someone who is struggling for example with anxiety or stress can get help before problems develop further into things like burnout or depression.

In the workplace, there can be a stigma associated with mental health, which Mental Health First Aiders can assist to eliminate. Staff training in MHFA will demonstrate to anyone who is suffering that your organisation will assist and guide them. It will facilitate communication between your employees and management because they will know that they will be supported rather than belittled or discriminated against.

A healthy workplace starts with healthy employees. One of the most significant expenditures for businesses is lost productivity due to mental illness. Employees and supervisors benefit from having someone educated in MHFA because they will know what to look for and say, making them feel healthier and more supported when it comes to mental health, and most importantly will feel that management really cares.

Unfortunately, one of the most common causes for employees being placed on long-term sick leave is mental illness. Companies can save money and time by having workers who are trained to intervene and provide staff support when problems arise. This is preferable to failing to support colleagues and the problems become so serious that the employee is forced to take time off.

Do you want to book a Mental Health First Aid course?

Our Mental Health First Aid course costs £275 per person– discounts are available for group bookings of 12 people. Contact us for more information, available dates, or to make a booking, or to learn more about other mental health & wellbeing courses we offer .

Read more

How to help someone with an eating disorder

An eating disorder is a complex mental health condition where an individual utilises control of food to cope with negative feelings, often associated with body image. This condition affects 1 in 50 people in the UK of all ages and genders. Although often diagnosed in teenagers and young adults, the first signs can sometimes develop at a much younger age. The condition is often very hard to diagnose in children as they present differently than in older individuals.

Eating Disorders Awareness Week aims to shine a spotlight on eating disorders. Many eating disorders can be hard to recognise as the signs are not widely known. This can lead to people struggling with eating disorders going without help both from those close to them and from experts.

Someone with an eating disorder requires medical and psychological help, however, support from friends and loved ones is also highly important.

How can you recognise the signs of an eating disorder?

Stereotypes around eating disorders have made them harder to identify. Stereotypes suggest the primary way to identify an eating disorder is weight loss, however, 85% of people with eating disorders are not underweight. The way eating disorders present can vary significantly from person to person which is why this mental health condition can be so difficult to identify.

Aside from weight, some of the signs to look out for include:

  • Frequent comments about weight, food, and size
  • Secretive about eating habits
  • Reluctance to eat with others
  • Toilet visits straight after eating

How can you support someone with an eating disorder?

If you are worried that someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder you may wish to raise this issue with them. This can be a difficult situation if you don’t fully understand the condition or how to talk to someone effectively about their mental health.

Utilise good information sources

Informing yourself before entering into this conversation can help you think more about what you wish to say and how to begin this dialogue most effectively. Utilising good information sources will help you better understand eating disorders and the steps that need to be taken to help someone with the condition. This could also provide you with stories and testimonials from other individuals who have struggled with an eating disorder to show the individual you are supporting that they are not alone and there is help available.

Create a calming atmosphere

Find a private space where you can offer support without being disturbed or making the individual feel uncomfortable or anxious. Eating disorders often stem from feelings of anxiety and a lack of control. Providing a safe and inviting environment will create a calming atmosphere where you can offer support. Simply showing them you are there and providing a space to talk and listen can have a positive impact on an individual struggling with an eating disorder.

Avoid anger and judgement

Eating disorders are closely linked to emotions and therefore avoiding anger or judgement is very important when offering support. Ensure you remain calm and simply provide unbiased comfort. Avoiding bringing up these conversations around mealtimes can help remove some negative feelings from the individual you are trying to support.

Seek medical help

An eating disorder is a complex mental health condition and therefore patience is extremely important when helping someone with this condition. Offering mental and physical support can be highly effective methods of offering help, however, professional support is often necessary, and recovery can be a long process. Seeking medical support quickly, such as visiting a GP, can be highly beneficial for recovery.

Avoid conversations around body image

Eating disorders are often associated with body image and control. Avoid commenting on their appearance or body image as this is often an area of sensitivity and can negatively impact the progression of your conversation. Equally, try to limit situations where this individual may feel uncomfortable around their appearance and body image during both social and private situations.

Eating disorders can often be hard to recognise in both children and adults. Having individuals trained on eating disorders within schools and workplaces can be very beneficial in helping diagnose and support people sooner rather than later.

Do you want to learn more about what eating disorders are and how they affect people? Take our understanding eating disorders course to gain a strong understanding of how eating disorders can be treated and how you can support someone struggling with this mental health condition.

All funds raised from our training courses go into our #Headucation campaign to train teachers to support children and young people with common mental health conditions, like eating disorders, at a young age to prevent further issues when they’re older.

Read more

What are the types of mental health stigma?

What is mental health stigma?

Mental health stigma is a negative attitude or negative treatment of an individual or group due to a voiced or perceived mental health condition – i.e. discrimination or a view that someone is ‘less than’ because of their mental health.

Types of mental health stigma

The British Association for Psychopharmacology has shared their 2 main types of mental health stigma:

  • Social stigma (aka public stigma)
  • Self-stigma

However, it is also worth acknowledging a few other types of stigma that mental health practitioners have identified, including:

  • Perceived Stigma
  • Structural Stigma
  • Professional Stigma (aka Healthcare Stigma)

Social Stigma

Social stigma (or public stigma) is when members of the general public endorse or facilitate a negative attitude or treatment towards those with mental health conditions e.g. using them as a comedic punchline or dramatized scare tactic on TV.

Social stigma also includes when those close to you, such as friends, family, and colleagues, treat you less favourable due to a mental health condition.

Self Stigma

Self-stigma can be one of the most challenging stigmas to overcome and one of the most harmful. Self-stigma is when you believe you are less deserving of help or an opportunity due to your condition. This is often developed through exposure to social stigma that ultimately results in you developing these internal beliefs. Self-stigma can lead to feelings of shame and hopelessness in the face of mental ill health.

Perceived Stigma

Similarly to self-stigma, perceived stigma relates to the beliefs that you as an individual has. Perceived stigma is when you believe you will be treated differently by others due to their negative attitudes towards mental health.

After self-stigma, perceived stigma can be one of the biggest barriers to individuals opening up about their mental health struggles and seeking the help they need.

Structural Stigma

Structural stigma (aka institutional stigma) is when a system is structured in a way – either intentionally or unintentionally – that those with mental health conditions suffer or have fewer opportunities to succeed than those without a mental health condition.

Professional Stigma

Professional stigma occurs in any healthcare setting where a patient is judged based on their mental health condition for unrelated causes. E.g. When those prone to anxiety and stress complain about headaches, many GPs will simply put this down to their stress levels rather than investigate further for a physical cause.

The effects of mental health stigma

Stigma is caused by a combination of misinformation, a lack of knowledge, and ultimately, fear. This dangerous combination can lead to discrimination and misleading stereotypes in popular media.

Mental health stigma can have a particularly dangerous effect on young people – leaving them feeling isolated, ashamed, and scared to ask for help.

  • More than a third of young people have felt the negative impact of mental health stigma
  • School is where most young people experience stigma
  • More than half of young people experience mental health stigma from their own friends
  • 70% of young people said stigma made them less likely to open up about their mental health

How to combat mental health stigma

Fight mental health stigma and the effect it has on those with mental health by practising 3 simple things:

  1. Talk about mental health regularly to normalise the topic
  2. Educate yourself and others to reduce misinformation
  3. Evaluate how you perceive and treat mental health in everyday life

Read more: 3 simple ways to fight mental health stigma

Stigma is one of the biggest factors that prevent people from seeking help and talking about their mental health. Our #SockItToStigma campaign aims to get workplaces talking about mental health in a safe, non-judgmental environment to eliminate the stigma associated with mental health. All funds raised during this campaign go straight to our #Headucation fund to support children with mental health and stop stigma before it can start.

Find out how your workplace or your school can get involved with #SockItToStigma 2022 or donate now to support children’s mental health and stop stigma in its tracks.

Read more