Thoughts & Ideas

How Shawmind use your donations

Shawmind is a charity on a mission to improve mental health awareness. After our 2017 parliamentary win towards compulsory mental health education in schools, we are committed to ‘headucating’ individuals and organisations so they understand mental health & emotional wellbeing, and how to manage them effectively to lead successful, fulfilled lives.  

 

With growing concern for young people’s mental health, with worrying statistics such as 1 in 6 children having mental health problems, and suicide being the third leading cause of death in 16-19 year olds, it is essential to educate children and their carers and provide early intervention to prevent mental illness.  

 

As a charity, we rely on donations and support so we can keep changing the lives of children, and provide them and their carers with mental health education. We aim to raise £20,000 Here’s how we use YOUR donations to support children’s mental health. 

 

 

We support educators, parents and carers to: 

  • Not feel overwhelmed by Mental Health in the classroom 
  • Not be the end point of dealing with Mental Health of pupils 
  • Pay attention to the signs of mental health conditions and trauma in children 
  • Provide early intervention and support through available tools and resources 
  • Better educate children about mental and emotional health 
  • Reduce stigma around mental health 
  • Signpost children to appropriate mental health support when needed. 

This supports children to: 

  • Better understand their emotions 
  • Seek help when they are struggling mentally 
  • Look after themselves when they need a mental health break  

How you can support us 

 

Do you want to support us so we can support a child’s mental health? For every £6 you donate, we can support a child for a year, and everyone £100 can provide THREE teachers with the resources they need.  

 

Are you a corporation looking to donate during the holiday season? For every £1500 you donate, we can support one school for SIX months! 

 

If you want to support us, here’s what you can do: 

 

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How to Improve Mental Health in The Workplace

As a leader in your organisation, you’re likely invested in the well-being of your employees. 

The workplace, where many people spend the majority of their time each week, is frequently the most structured and controlled environment in their lives, and it is often their primary source of social and emotional support. 

As a result, the workplace is an important setting for understanding and promoting mental health. Here are 4 ways to improve mental health in the workplace: 

 

1. Raise awareness around mental health 

In many UK workplaces, discussing mental health is filled with stigma. Employees are still too hesitant to discuss any mental health issues with their managers.  

Break down this stigma by encouraging workplace discussions about mental health and well-being. You could accomplish this by: 

  • Have some staff trained as mental health first aiders 
  • Using internal communication channels to raise awareness, such as blog posts or staff newsletters 
  • Encourage people at all levels to talk openly about their mental health if they feel comfortable doing so. 

Raising mental health awareness in this way sends a clear message to employees that help is available if they are struggling. 

 

2. Keep the conversation going 

We all have mental health and wellbeing, so we need to keep talking about it. This involves encouraging your employees to continue the mental health conversation. 

Set the example by scheduling regular one-on-one meetings with members of your team to discuss their mental health. 

Outside of meetings, make it a habit to check in on your employees and ask how they are. To be more effective, ask them twice. According to Time to Change research, 75% of people will say they’re fine even if they’re not. Simply asking twice may reveal an issue that you were previously unaware of. 

By continuing this conversation, you will encourage employees to think more about their own or their colleagues’ mental health, as well as the factors that influence it. 

 

3. Prioritise work-life balance 

With the significant shift to home working, the boundaries between work and home life have become increasingly blurred. This must be closely monitored, as a lack of work-life balance leads to stressed and burned-out employees. 

So, take proactive steps to maintain your employees’ work/life balance. You could encourage your employees to work reasonable hours, take full lunch breaks, and avoid working on weekends. 

It is also critical that you establish realistic work demands so that your employees do not have extra work to do after hours. 

 

4. Implement healthy workplace practices 

Implement some simple healthy workplace practises to improve your team’s mental health. 

Office workers should be encouraged to take frequent breaks from long periods of sitting, as this has been shown to improve mood and energy levels. 

You could also encourage exercise and regular social events to improve your employees’ physical and mental health. 

Implementing practises like these demonstrates your commitment to your employees’ well-being. 

 

Do you want to improve mental health awareness and staff emotional wellbeing in your workplace? 

We have a range of mental health training options to support individuals and organisations, including both online and in-person courses to suit your requirements.   

2023 can be the year you train your staff and upgrade the emotional well-being of your teams and the support provided to them, thus increasing moral, productivity and reducing absence and sick days. 

Remember, when you hire Shawmind as your training provider (rather than a private company) we use the funding to provide mental health training for school children and teachers FREE OF CHARGE. 

The well-being of your organisation has a ripple effect on mental wellness within communities around the UK. 

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Why mental health education in schools is so important

According to the Prince’s Trust’s Youth Index, one-quarter of young people are unable to cope with life. Report after report reveals the mental health toll exacerbated by lockdown conditions. Research has found that the first national lockdown harmed children’s mental health. If there was a mental health crisis among young people prior to the pandemic, it can only get worse now. As a result, it is critical that children receive the best possible support.  

Schools play an important role in providing assistance to children and adolescents with their mental health. We believe teachers play a crucial role in supporting children and young people’s mental health, which is why we run our Headucation programme. Headucation aims to improve the mental health of the next generation by addressing mental health in schools through a whole-school approach.   

Find out more about our headucation programme here. 

 

Why should children learn about mental health? 

1. The importance of early intervention 

Small changes in thinking and behaviour are frequently noticed by family, friends, teachers, and individuals themselves before a mental illness manifests itself fully. Learning about early warning signs and acting on them can be beneficial. 

Teaching and talking to children about mental health in an age appropriate manner, can lessen the severity of the illness and may even prevent or postpone the development of a major mental illness. Apathy, feelings of disconnection, nervousness, unusual behaviour, withdrawal, mood changes, and a drop in performance are some of the symptoms. 

 

2. Mental Health Is Equally Important as Physical Health 

We typically associate the term “health” with physical health. Physical health is extremely important in our children’s lives, and physical education has been a vital part of the curriculum for a long time. We must, however, consider our children’s mental health on the same level. We want them to live a happy and healthy life, so we must teach them to understand how mental and physical health interact. 

To live a happy life while coping with everyday stresses, we need to know how to handle our mental health. We can learn this while we are in school. Knowing the role mental health plays in their lives allows children to become happy adults. Happy, functional adults are better equipped to handle life. 

 

3. Students’ Mental Health Impacts Learning and Achievement 

Few children are aware that poor mental health can have an impact on learning and achievement. Children and adolescents who have mental health issues may struggle to learn. They may also struggle to complete tasks and concentrate. These children are also more likely to have poor academic performance and to miss school. 

Children and teens who have mental health issues are less likely to graduate. They also have a harder time attending and completing postsecondary education. 

 

4. Societal Pressures from Social Media 

When children begin using social media, they must understand mental wellbeing. Social media is extremely important in today’s world, particularly in the lives of young people. Children and teenagers can learn unhealthy ways to talk, behave, socialise, and interact on social media. 

Children’s mental health may suffer as they become more reliant on social media. Children who use social media extensively are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. If children learn about mental health in school, they will be able to make better social media decisions, lowering their chances of developing these conditions. 

 

Our children’s mental health is in crisis, and we need your help: 

We want to raise £20,000 before the end of 2022 to ensure we can support AT LEAST 3000 school children with their mental health and emotional well-being throughout 2023. 

Your donations will help us achieve this goal and change young people’s lives forever. >> 

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The Cost of Living: How Rising Prices Are Affecting Our Mental Health

The cost of living has been on the rise for quite some time now, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. In fact, in some cases it seems to be speeding up! This is causing a lot of stress and anxiety for people all over the world, as they struggle to make ends meet. Not only is this putting a lot of financial stress on people, but it’s also taking its toll on their mental health.

In this blog post, we will take a look at how rising prices are affecting our mental health, and discuss some ways to cope with the stress of living in an expensive world.

How is the cost of living crisis affecting our mental health?

One of the main ways that rising prices are affecting our mental health is by putting a lot of financial stress on us. Many people struggle to make ends meet, and constantly worry about how they will cover their monthly expenses. This can take a toll on our mental health, leaving us feeling anxious and stressed out.

In addition to this, the cost of living can also impact our mental health by making it difficult for us to get access to the things we need. For example, if prices keep rising and wages don’t, we may not be able to afford healthy food or adequate healthcare, which can increase our risk of developing mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.

By understanding how this affects different mental health conditions we can raise awareness, understanding and look for the right support.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is one example of a mental health condition that can be impacted by the rising cost of living. This is because individuals with PTSD often struggle to find work and make ends meet, which can exacerbate their symptoms and increase their risk of developing other mental health conditions as well.

To cope with the stress of living in an expensive world, it is important to seek support and focus on self-care. This may include practicing mindfulness and meditation, engaging in healthy distractions like exercise or social activities, and reaching out to friends or family for support when you need it. Additionally, it is important to advocate for policies that will address the rising cost of living and ensure that everyone has access to vital resources like healthcare and a stable

Download our free info guides for more information on PTSD:

Childhood Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD in the Military and Veterans

Depression

Another mental health condition that is impacted by the rising cost of living is depression. Individuals with depression may experience symptoms such as feelings of hopelessness and despair, low energy, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable.

One way to cope with the stress of living in an expensive world if you are struggling with depression is to seek professional help. This may include speaking to a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist about your symptoms and finding strategies that can help you manage them more effectively. You may also find it helpful to connect with support groups or online communities that can provide you with additional resources and encouragement as you work through this difficult time. Additionally, it is important to practice self-care by making sure you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities that bring you joy. With the right support and tools, it is possible to manage depression and live a fulfilling life despite the rising cost of living.

Looking to find out more about depression?

Shawmind’s CPD accredited Understanding Depression course will teach you about what depression is, how it affects people, how it can be managed and how you can support someone struggling.

Anxiety

As the cost of living rises, so too does anxiety levels in individuals who already suffer from anxiety. Individuals with anxiety may experience symptoms such as racing thoughts, increased heart rate, trouble sleeping, and tense muscles.

One way to cope with the stress of living in an expensive world if you are struggling with anxiety is to focus on self-care. This may include practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, engaging in regular exercise or other physical activity, and staying connected to friends and family. Additionally, it can be helpful to seek professional support from a therapist or counselor who can offer you additional tools and strategies for managing your anxiety.

By taking the time to look after yourself both physically and emotionally, it is possible to cope with the challenges of living in an expensive world and find joy and fulfilment despite the rising cost of living.

Shawmind’s Understanding Anxiety course will teach you about what anxiety is, how it affects people, how it can be managed and how you can support someone struggling.

OCD

The rising cost of living can also impact those with OCD. Individuals with OCD may experience obsessions and compulsions related to money, spending, or saving that can be incredibly disruptive and stressful.

One way to cope with the stress of living in an expensive world if you are struggling with OCD is to seek professional support from a therapist or counselor. This may include developing coping strategies for your specific obsessions and compulsions, learning how to manage your symptoms more effectively, and using cognitive-behavioral therapy to learn new ways of thinking about your condition. Additionally, it can be helpful to connect with support groups or online communities that can provide you with additional resources and encouragement as you navigate living with OCD in an increasingly expensive world. With the right help and tools, it is possible to manage your OCD and live a fulfilling life despite the rising cost of living.

Want to learn about what OCD is, how it affects people, how it can be managed and how you can support someone struggling? Shawmind’s Understanding OCD course will give you an introduction to OCD , ideal for anyone with OCD or anyone who supports others with OCD including parents, teachers, and employers.

Eating Disorders

The rising cost of living can also contribute to individuals developing eating disorders. Individuals with an eating disorder may experience symptoms such as bingeing and purging, excessive exercising, or extreme dieting in order to control their weight or shape.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, it is important to seek professional support from a qualified therapist or counsellor. This may include developing strategies for managing your symptoms more effectively, learning how to take care of yourself in healthy ways, and using cognitive-behavioural therapy to address the underlying causes of your disorder. Additionally, it can be helpful to connect with support groups or online communities that can provide you with additional resources and encouragement as you navigate living with an eating disorder in an increasingly expensive world. With the right help and tools, it is possible to manage your eating disorder and find happiness and fulfilment despite the rising cost of living. Interested in learning more about eating disorders?

Our Understanding Eating Disorders course is ideal for an introduction to the topic or as a knowledge refresher course. This fully online course provides a level of understanding that can be applied to personal or work life situations.

Domestic Violence

The rising cost of living can also impact individuals who are experiencing domestic violence. As financial strain and stress increases, the risk of domestic violence may also increase.

If you are struggling with domestic violence, it is important to reach out for professional support. This may include finding a safe place to stay, working with an advocate or counselor to develop a safety plan, and developing strategies for coping with the ongoing stress and trauma related to domestic violence. Additionally, it can be helpful to connect with support groups or online communities that can provide you with additional resources and encouragement as you navigate living with domestic violence in an increasingly expensive world.

Substance Use

The rising cost of living can also make individuals more vulnerable to developing substance use disorders. With limited resources available and high costs associated with recovery programs and treatment, those struggling with addiction may find it difficult to access the support they need.

If you are struggling with a substance, use disorder, it is important to seek professional support from a qualified therapist or counsellor. This may include developing strategies for managing your symptoms more effectively, learning about addiction and the recovery process, and utilising evidence-based treatments such as cognitive-behavioural therapy or motivational interviewing. Additionally, it can be helpful to connect with support groups or online communities that can provide you with additional resources and encouragement as you navigate living with a substance use disorder in an increasingly expensive world. With the right help and tools, it is possible to manage your addiction and find happiness and fulfilment despite the rising cost of living.

School Refusal

The rising cost of living can also impact individuals who are struggling with school-refusal behaviours. When the financial strain and stress increase, the risk of school avoidance or absenteeism may also increase.

If you know a young person struggling with school avoidance, it may be useful to consider mindfulness practices, or the “5 ways to wellbeing”. These are both techniques to minimise stress, anxiety and other stress-related behaviours and thought processes. Find out more here:

5 Ways to Wellbeing

Mindfulness and its benefit to young people

If you are struggling with school refusal behaviours, it is important to reach out for professional support. This may include developing strategies for managing your symptoms more effectively, working with a counsellor or therapist to address the underlying causes of your school refusal behaviours, and utilising evidence-based treatments such as cognitive-behavioural therapy. Additionally, it can be helpful to connect with support groups or online communities that can provide you with additional resources and encouragement as you navigate living

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The Post-Covid Impact on Mental Health

It is now more important than ever to be aware of the mental health implications of Covid. Recent studies have shown that mental health conditions are on the rise in countries all over the world, and it is likely that this trend will continue in the aftermath of Covid. Whether you are infected with Covid or not, it is important to be aware of the mental health risks associated with this pandemic. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common mental health conditions and their potential impacts post-Covid.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is one mental health condition that is especially at risk of being negatively impacted by Covid. Studies have shown that individuals who are exposed to trauma and stress, such as those experiencing or witnessing a natural disaster, are more likely to experience PTSD in the short-term. Given the ongoing nature of Covid and its impact on communities throughout the world, it is likely that many individuals will experience increased levels of trauma and stress, which could lead to an increase in mental health challenges such as PTSD.

 

Some recent studies have also found a correlation between Covid and PTSD

  • A study conducted by Matsumoto et al. in 2022 concluded that 1.8% of people not infected with covid-19 exhibited symptoms of PTSD afterwards.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 patients who were hospitalised for Covid developed significant post-traumatic stress symptoms within one month.
  • In the study conducted by Ouyang et al. in 2022, it was found that PTSD symptoms had increased from 10.73% to 20.84%.

Want to learn more about PTSD? Download our free info guides:

Childhood Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD in the Military and Veterans

Depression

The depression symptoms of low mood could be caused by the lockdown, not being able to see people, and not doing regular daily tasks. Having other mental health problems, such as anxiety, might also result in a low mood which would make the depression worse.

According to a recent study, 1 in 5 non-infected individuals have diagnosable depression. (Matsumoto et al., 2022).

If you want to find out more about depression, Shawmind’s CPD accredited Understanding Depression course will teach you about what depression is, how it affects people, how it can be managed and how you can support someone struggling.

Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are also becoming more common post-Covid, as individuals find themselves worrying about their own health and the health of loved ones.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, many people have found increased difficulty with anxiety in both its mental and physical manifestations, such as:

  • restlessness or feeling on edge
  • difficulty concentrating
  • muscle tension
  • sleep problems

For those who excessively worry, the thought of catching or dying from covid may increase levels of anxiety.

  • A study has found that anxiety and depression affect 23% of patients who have recovered from Covid-19.(Huang et al., 2021).
  • Anxiousness disorders were present in 10.4% of people who weren’t infected with a disease. (Matsumoto et al., 2022).

OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is another mental health condition that has seen an increase in prevalence post-Covid. Individuals with OCD find themselves constantly worrying about whether they have properly washed their hands or if their home is adequately disinfected.

They may also experience repetitive thoughts and behaviours like checking for germs multiple times a day or ritualistic hand washing.

  • Recent studies have confirmed that 1.6% of non-infected individuals have OCD (Matsumoto et al., 2022).

Want to learn about OCD? Shawmind’s Understanding OCD course will give you an introduction to OCD , ideal for anyone with OCD or anyone who supports others with OCD including parents, teachers, and employers.

Eating Disorders

The mental health impacts of Covid are not exclusive to mental health conditions that are already present in a given individual. For many, the experience of staying isolated at home and facing social isolation can lead to increased susceptibility to developing an eating disorder.

Eating disorders commonly include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.

A recent study found that roughly 2% of non-infected individuals were suffering from an eating disorder before Covid (Matsumoto et al., 2022).

Given the mental health impacts of Covid, it is important to seek support and mental healthcare as needed. Whether you are struggling with mental health conditions that are already present in your life or if you are experiencing mental health symptoms related to Covid, there is help available. Seeking support and treatment can help you cope with the mental health challenges associated with Covid, and can also enable you to lead a healthy, happy life.

Want to learn more about eating disorders?

Our Understanding Eating Disorders course is ideal for an introduction to the topic of eating disorders or as a knowledge refresher course. This fully online course provides a level of understanding that can be applied to personal or work life situations.

Domestic Violence

Covid may also be impacting mental health in domestic violence situations. Many survivors of domestic abuse who are already experiencing mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or PTSD may find that the isolation caused by Covid is further exacerbating their mental health symptoms.

Additionally, individuals who are experiencing mental health challenges related to Covid may find it difficult to leave an abusive relationship due to the mental health impacts of Covid.

If you are a survivor of domestic violence and are struggling with mental health issues related to Covid, it is important to seek support and mental healthcare as needed. Whether you need help managing existing mental health conditions or if you need assistance addressing mental health challenges related to Covid, there is help available. By reaching out for mental health support, you can lead a healthy and happy life despite the mental health impacts of Covid.​

Substance Use

The mental health impacts of Covid are also impacting individuals struggling with substance use disorders. Many people who struggle with addiction find that their mental health challenges, especially anxiety and depression, increase the potential for relapse during periods of stress or social isolation.

Additionally, individuals struggling with mental health conditions related to Covid may be at an increased risk of relapse due to mental health challenges associated with Covid.

Eventually, individuals who abuse substances repeatedly begin to rely on them to feel good and can become addicted or dependent. According to Roberts et al. (2021), as many as 7 in 10 people used alcohol during the Covid pandemic, while 17.5% used other substances such as amphetamines, cannabis, stimulants, sleep aids and recreational drugs.

School Refusal

School refusal can be a mental health issue in its own right, but it can also be a symptom of an underlying mental health condition. For example, some students who experience school refusal may be dealing with anxiety or depression and may find that they are unable to attend school due to mental health challenges related to Covid.

The previous school closures as part of broader social distancing measures during the height of the pandemic also are associated with considerable harms to children and young people’s health and wellbeing. School routines are important coping mechanisms for young people in general, but especially those with mental health issues or underlying conditions. When schools are closed, they lose an anchor in life and their symptoms often worsen.

If you or your child is struggling with mental health concerns related to Covid, it is important to seek support and mental healthcare as needed. Whether you need help managing existing mental health conditions or if you are experiencing mental health challenges related to Covid, there are mental health resources available that can help. By reaching out for mental health support, you can lead a healthy and happy life despite the mental health impact of Covid.​

  • According to the Department for Education, in 2018-2019, school refusal affected 1 out of every 10 students (10.9%) in the UK (Department for Education, 2020; Kljakovic et al., 2021).

We also find that it can be useful to consider mindfulness practices, or the “5 ways to wellbeing”. These are both techniques to minimise stress, anxiety and other stress-related behaviours and thought processes. Find out more here:

5 Ways to Wellbeing

Mindfulness and its benefit to young people

Post-Covid, the key figures are:

Over a fifth of students (21.3%) were absent from school due to Covid circumstances

According to the data, 12.1% of students had persistent absences this year, which is an increase from the previous year of 10.8%.

The student absence rate is 4.6%. This means that out of 20 students, 1 will be absent. The percentage has decreased from 4.7% the previous academic year according to Gov UK (2022).

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What are mental health days and when should you take one?

Taking time off work to care for your physical health is a standard practise but doing the same for your mental health can feel like more of a grey area.

Even though many employers have rules on personal or mental health days, it can feel challenging to request time off when all you need is a mental break. You may end up forcing yourself to go even though you’re uncomfortable or feel bad about using one of your few leave days. However, when you’re overly worried, stressed or anxious, both you and your job suffer, sometimes resulting in problems that might harm both your performance and your co-workers. Maintaining your general health and well-being, both within and outside of the office, requires knowing when to take a mental health day for yourself.

When to take a mental health day

It might be all too simple to convince yourself that experiencing mental health issues doesn’t warrant time off from work. Why stay off work if you are physically capable of doing so and being paid?

But keep in mind that your entire wellbeing depends just as much on your mental health as it does on your physical health. Your mind needs time to relax and heal, just like any illness or physical suffering does.

Consider taking the day off if you wake up feeling particularly agitated, depressed, or nervous to the point that it interferes with your ability to operate. Of course, sometimes you just feel unexplainably “off.” It’s OK to take the day to yourself then, too. Use your personal judgement and listen to your mind and body. Everyone needs a mental health day from time to time.

How to tell your manager you want a mental health day

For many people, their job openly accepts mental health days and, in this case, you can be open and honest with your manager. Unfortunately, the debate over mental health days is still prevalent in many companies. Meaning, what you say to your boss is important. Here are some points to consider when talking to your manager about taking a mental health day.

1. Acknowledge that you deserve the day. This will make it easier to communicate your needs to your supervisor and make your intentions clear. There is power in naming your stressors, and you’ll have a concrete idea of what you need to address during your time off.

2. Consider your workplace leave policies. Depending on your workplace, asking for a mental health day can be as simple as requesting a sick day. Familiarise yourself with your rights prior to requesting a mental health day.

3. Share only what you’re comfortable with. If your workplace isn’t as receptive to employees taking time off for mental health, don’t feel the need to over-explain yourself. Simply saying you have to deal with a personal matter should do the trick. However, if you’re comfortable telling your supervisor or HR (Human Resources) department why you’re taking the day off, you can! It helps to plan what you would like to say to your supervisor beforehand, so you are clear about what you are asking. After your request is approved, you can start to think about what you want to accomplish or take care of on your day off. Here’s an example of how to tell your employer you need a mental health day.

Hi [Employer],
I need to take today off for my mental health. Hopefully, then I can be back at 100% for tomorrow
Many Thanks,
[Your Name]

 

4. Remember that your day is for you. Once your request is approved, you can focus on what you need to decompress and take care of yourself. If you need to sit on the couch all day, do it! Getting outside is also a great option if the weather allows but remember that the day is specifically for you to recoup from the stressors of work.

How to spend your mental health day

Just like you’d treat any sick day, do things that make you feel better. Spend your mental health day doing things you know are beneficial to your mental and physical health. If spending the day relaxing on the sofa or going for a walk in the park will help you, do them! But often spending the day doing tasks like laundry, dishes and errands can help clear your mind and reduce the mental load. There is no right or wrong way to spend your mental health day, do what you need to do to feel better.

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Improving mental health after lockdown

During lockdown, we were all made aware of the mental health risks of social isolation, staying indoors and mass worry about health.

However, since lockdown has finished, and we are all back in reality – how do we take care of our mental health now that everything is back to normal?

Whatever you are feeling is OK. There is no right or wrong way to react. Coronavirus has impacted all of our lives and it’s natural that these uncertain and challenging times are continuing to affect people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Even positive change can lead to anxiety, and it can take time to readjust to things we have not done for a while. Feelings of anxiety are likely to pass with time as we get used to the “new normal” but it’s important to do what we can to take care of our mental health. It’s important to be kind to yourself and take things at your own pace. We’ve all faced challenges over the past two years and it’s OK if you still need time to readjust. If you’re finding things tough, try to talk about how you are feeling with others. You’re not alone.

There are lots of things that can help you to manage these feelings and make it easier to adjust.

Here are our top tips for taking care of your mental health now that things have changed.

Pay attention to how you are feeling.

Acknowledging your feelings and taking time to understand and accept them can be very beneficial in processing the emotion and moving forward from it. Once you are aware of how you are feeling, it will be easier to open up to someone to talk about your emotions.

Make time for yourself.

Do something that you enjoy, that makes you feel good! It may be something like playing sports or taking your favourite book to a park for 30 minutes in the sun. Even taking a five-minute break with a cup of tea will help you relax and recharge.

Keep to a routine.

If you’re worried about the future, planning your day might help you feel more grounded. Prioritize eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising – a small walk outside at lunchtime is a good place to start.

Try a relaxation exercise.

Sometimes something as basic as regulated breathing may help us feel more at ease. Muscle relaxation techniques can also help alleviate tension and anxiety. Find a quiet place and try out some relaxing mindfulness exercises. They are simple to remember and may be utilised when out and about. 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.

Take a break from the news and social media.

If you find it difficult to turn off, prioritising other activities might help. Turn off your alerts or leave your phone in a different room for a few hours. If your profession requires a lot of screen time, stepping away from your gadgets after work may help you relax.

Talk about how you’re feeling.

Talking might help us put things into perspective and feel less alone. It might be difficult to reach out, but speaking with a trusted friend, coworker, or family member is something we would encourage you to do in any way you can. Why not drop-in during one of our weekly Breathe Café sessions to access resources on mental health and wellbeing, signposting to mental health services and our network of volunteers who are there to listen.

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Why mental health awareness is so important

Often, because of misconceptions about mental health and mental wellbeing, people suffer in silence and their conditions go untreated. Mental health awareness is an important social movement to improve understanding of mental illness, reduce the stigma around mental health, and increase access to necessary help for those who need it.

What is mental health awareness?

Mental health is more than simply a topic for persons who suffer from mental illnesses. It has an influence on our social, emotional, physical, and cognitive health.

Unfortunately, many people do not obtain the necessary care due to the stigma connected with mental health. Some people are unaware that treatment is available. When these people suffer quietly, they feel lonely and unlike their usual self. We miss out on their brilliance.

We never know how well our actions affect others, but if increasing awareness will save a life, it is well worth the effort.

Why is mental health awareness so important?

Mental health education is essential for advancing mental health treatment and behavioural health. It is a critical and essential dialogue for shifting to a more proactive mental health strategy.

We currently only replenish our tanks when they reach “empty.” Increasing our awareness allows us to notice the signs and symptoms of “odd” feelings, just as we do with physical disease, before they become critical.

Here are four significant advantages of mental health awareness:

1. Helps You Understand Your Mental Health Symptoms

Especially with mental health conditions, which are difficult to pinpoint, a diagnosis can be incredibly validating. It can make people experiencing mental illness feel less alone and can make finding therapy and healthy coping mechanisms simpler. Spreading mental health awareness allows people to openly discuss their symptoms and fully understand what they are feeling and why. For example, you may believe that your mental health deteriorates as a result of working from home, or using alcohol as a coping mechanism.

2. Reduces Mental Health Stigma

Mental illness isn’t widely talked about in many communities due to a lasting stigma that surrounds it. This stigma predominately comes from a lack of information, something that mental health awareness courses are helping to change. As more and more people choose to educate themselves with these opportunities, and raise awareness around mental health, we will hopefully see a change in the way it is talked about in the community.

3. Better Mental Health Knowledge

Caregivers, employers, parents, family members, and loved ones must grasp the influence of mental health on daily life. While mental health issues might make daily life more challenging, they do not have to prohibit you from living a happy and engaged life.

When the people in your life understand and value mental health care, it becomes simpler to take the necessary steps to care for yourself and flourish.

4. Promotes Mental Wellbeing

Many of us have fallen into the trap of viewing mental health as synonymous with mental illness. It is possible to have a mental health disorder while also being mentally healthy, and the absence of a mental illness does not guarantee mental wellbeing.

Adding mental fitness, a proactive approach to emotional health, well-being, and cognitive agility to our knowledge of mental health concerns and wellbeing. It enables us to live our lives with greater purpose, clarity, and enthusiasm. Reducing the stigma associated with mental health is a vital first step toward embracing mental wellbeing.

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.

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4 ways to implement mindfulness in the classroom

Incorporate mindfulness into classroom activities by including breathing, sensory experience, guided imagery, and movement exercises into the day-to-day curriculum.

Teaching mindfulness in the classroom is more important than ever. 66% of school-age children are currently experiencing stress and worry about school, exams and homework and teachers and parents are equally concerned and anxious for them. Our lives are hectic, and we frequently find ourselves dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness is important for children because it teaches them to live in the present moment, to enjoy and experience what is in front of them rather than dwelling on the past or worrying for the future.

Educators understand that children learn best when they are at ease, safe, and calm. Imagine if, in addition to the gift of lifelong learning and the tools to become compassionate and productive adults, we could also offer our children the gift of mindfulness – the ability to use their breath and mind to live a happy and healthy life. Teachers will benefit from mindfulness as well, because we all know that a happy teacher has a happy classroom.

Here are 4 ways to implement mindfulness in your classroom:

1. Mindfulness Through Breath

We commonly take short breaths into our chests when we are upset or anxious. You may utilise your breath to soothe both your body and mind by inhaling deeply into your abdomen. Place your right hand on your abdomen and your left hand on your chest to practise mindful breathing. Feel the smooth rise and fall of your breath. Count to three as you inhale, then three more times as you exhale. If it’s more comfortable for you, close your eyes. Try mindful breathing on your own first, then with your students. They can pretend to fill a balloon in their stomachs, or you can use a Hoberman Sphere to show the breath visually.

You may use this easy breathing technique throughout the school day to aid with transitions, before tests, or in stressful circumstances.

2. Mindfulness Through Sensory Experiences

Sensory experiences also assist youngsters in focusing and relaxing. In the classroom, try listening to soothing music or other peaceful noises. You might also take the kids outside to listen to the sounds of nature. They may make mind jars or play I Spy. This exercise entails placing objects with strong, recognisable odours (such as cinnamon, flowers, cheese, or popcorn) in jars and having the children estimate the items based on their sense of smell. Close their eyes, give each child a cotton ball or sponge, and have them guess what they’re holding to focus their sense of touch. Sensory tables with containers of water, sand, ice, or themed items are fantastic. Use Play-doh, clay, or Slime to encourage developmentally beneficial imaginative play.

3. Mindfulness Through Guided Imagery

Guided imagery fosters the development of children’s imaginations. It also aids in the integration of new knowledge with existing knowledge. When you begin a new topic in your lecture, have your students close their eyes (if that is comfortable) and walk them on a fictitious journey. If you’re studying the ocean, for example, have students envision getting into underwater vehicles and travelling around the ocean waters in search of fish, creatures, and plants. Finish the guided relaxation with a few deep breaths, and then they can sketch their thoughts and discuss them as a class. Depending on your curriculum subjects, you may take them on pretend adventures into outer space, to the beach, forest, or a deserted island, on a safari, or up a volcano. Take your children on journeys through relaxation stories to help them calm down and re-energise.

4. Mindfulness Through Movement

Humans are born to move. Our distant ancestors spent their days running from predators or hunting for food. Movement is a natural part of human life that has become a luxury in modern times. Introducing movement into your classroom allows your students to tap into their natural way of learning. Yoga is a simple strategy for adding movement to your school day. Children can mimic their environment to develop their self-expression and self-confidence. They can practice yoga in their chairs, in the gym, or outside. Again, using poses that correspond with your class topic makes the motion relevant and meaningful for your students.

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

How can mindfulness benefit young people?

It suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through. That might seem trivial, except for the annoying fact that we so often veer from the matter at hand. Mindfulness is slowing down and paying close attention to what you’re doing, even if it is an exercise as simply focusing on your breath.

66% of school-age children are currently experiencing stress about school, exams and homework. When young people practise mindfulness, they slow down, take their time, and concentrate on something that is both calming and stress-free. Breathing techniques, imagery, bodily awareness, and relaxation are common components of mindfulness meditation. Being mindful assists young people to cope with frustration when they confront a challenging situation in their life. It may also be utilised when they need to focus their attention on something specific and avoid being distracted.

Practising mindfulness may enhance attention spans for almost everyone, even young people with ADHD and ADD who can often find it hard to pay attention and stay focussed. People who learn how to practise mindfulness have superior attention spans and are less easily distracted. Mindfulness also assists people in being calm under stress, avoiding overreacting, getting along better with others, and being more patient. It can even improve learning, assist children and teenagers become better listeners, and make them feel happy in general.

Childhood and adolescence are critical phases in the development of young people. What occurs to them during these stages of their lives will establish the groundwork for their future mental health. Here are the three main ways mindfulness benefits young people.

Emotional Benefits

Emotional health, often known as a good sense of well-being, is a vital aspect of every young person’s life. Not only is it the foundation of mental health, but it may also assist prevent mental health concerns such as:

  • Anxiety, stress and depression
  • Problems with self-esteem
  • Social relationships issues

Overall, being mindful or engaging in mindfulness exercises can help young people not only manage stress but also boost their feeling of well-being.

Social Benefits

Difficulties connecting and talking with others can cause issues with learning, comprehension, and school atmosphere. However, mindfulness programmes have been demonstrated to increase these skills and contribute to beneficial outcomes in the classroom.

Mindfulness has also been demonstrated to improve a young person’s capacity to manage emotions and experience compassion and empathy. It is also commonly regarded as a helpful therapy for persons of all ages who suffer from aggressiveness, ADHD, or mental health issues such as anxiety. It can even be used to relieve the agony of bullying.

Mindfulness may also be used to develop self-concept, increase planning abilities, and manage urges. Mindfulness, when applied properly in schools, can reduce the frequency of trips to the principal’s office, minimise school bullying, and enhance attendance.

Cognitive Benefits

Teaching children mindfulness can improve their cognitive skills, particularly the executive functions conducted by the brain. Executive functions control a person’s capacity to pay attention, alter focus, organise information, recall details, and plan.

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