Mental Health Insights

Step into Mental Fitness: Celebrating National Walking Month

It’s National Walking Month! As part of mental health awareness to boost the mental health of people across the nation, we want to highlight the mental health benefits of walking, 

Did you know? Studies show that there is an 18% reduction in depression amongst adults who get just HALF of the daily recommended physical activity.  


This blogpost will discuss: 

  • The benefits of walking for mental wellbeing 
  • How to fit walking into your routine 
  • How to get kids involved in walking 
  • How to practise mindfulness when walking  


Benefits of walking for mental health 

You might know walking as good for your physical health, but did you know it has many mental health benefits too? Here are some of the mental health benefits of walking you can benefit from this National Walking Month: 

Reduced risk of depression and anxiety 

Many studies have shown that there is a strong link between exercise, walking and a reduction in anxiety and depression. It is important that we get regular fresh air exercise on a daily basis to prevent depression and anxiety.  

Improved sleep 

Studies have shown how there is a strong link between sleep and exercise. Those who exercise on a daily basis tend to get better quality sleep throughout the night. This has a positive impact on both physical and mental health by reducing negative moods and promoting overall well-being. 

Stress reduction  

Exercise and walking releases endorphins, which are natural mood-boosting chemicals, which can help reduce stress. Also, walking in nature can be relaxing and calming, especially if you practise mindfulness, which can reduce stress and make you feel energised.  

Increased self esteem 

Walking can make you feel really good about yourself! When you set a goal to walk every day, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and achievement, which can boost your self-esteem. Also, walking is the perfect opportunity to self-reflect and practice gratitude.  

Improved cognitive function 

Walking is good for the brain! Studies show that those who walk regularly have improved memory and a reduced risk of cognitive decline such as dementia. John D. Omura a et al conducted a study which found that cognitive decline is almost twice as common among adults who are inactive compared to those who are active. 


How to fit walking into your routine 

Start small 

Some people can walk marathons, and some can just walk around the park. Either way, it’s best to start with what you feel comfortable with. Stick with what you can do, if you push yourself too much you might give up! 

Set realistic goals 

It’s good to set goals, but make sure they’re realistic. If you struggle making time for walking, start by setting a goal of only walking on weekends, or only walking to work on warm days! This way, you won’t get put-off by your goals. Whatever your goals are, make sure they work for you and your lifestyle.  

Incorporate walking into your daily routine 

We all have busy lives and packed schedules, so rather than working your routine around walking, try working walking into your routine. Rather than driving to the shops, you could walk. You could walk to pick the kids up from school, walk the dog, walk during your lunch break or even walk to work.  

Walk with a friend or group 

If you’re dealing with loneliness, walking with a group, friends or family can be a great way to combat loneliness and boost your mental health and wellbeing. If you’re feeling lonely, reach out to people you know and ask if they want to go on a walk. Alternatively, find walking groups in your community, you could ask your local Facebook group if anyone wants to start one! 

Listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks 

Walking can be the perfect time to get some ‘me time’. We all like a little bit of time to ourselves, so be sure to listen to your favourite music, podcasts or audiobooks. This can make you feel more motivated to walk and enjoy the time you spend on your walks.  

Explore New Areas 

Walking the same route can get a tad boring! Make sure to switch it up by exploring new neighbourhoods and parks in your area. Remember to be safe and take a friend with you! 


How to get kids involved with walking 

Set a good example 

Parenting starts with setting a good example! If you show your child that you enjoy walking and walk regularly, they will see it as a fun activity. This way, they will want to incorporate it in their lives, even when they are older. 

Establish walking in their routine 

Whether you want to walk to school, walk after school or walk after dinner, it is important to make walking a normal part of your child’s routine.  

Music or dance walk 

Pick a safe and suitable location, such as a forest trail or a park, and put some of yours and your child’s favourite dance songs. Now it’s time to have a little boogie along your walk! This can make walking more fun and enjoyable.  

Walking challenges 

Children love a little bit of competition. If you give them a walking challenge, they will feel motivated to hit their targets. You can set them a goal of 2000 steps a day to start with. 

Mindful walks  

Mindfulness is a great practice for children, and what better time to practise mindfulness than on a pleasant walk. There are so many sensory experiences to soak in, and walking is the perfect time to reflect and be in tune with your body.  

Make walking fun! 

Here are a few things you can do with your kids to make walking more fun: 

  • Play ‘I Spy’ or a scavenger hunt 
  • Play follow the leader 
  • Bring friends along 
  • Get them to photograph their surroundings 
  • Bring snacks 
  • Find an item from each colour of the rainbow 
  • Stop at local monument to learn about local history 
  • Teach them about nature 


How to practise mindfulness on walks 

Mindfulness can reduce stress, anxiety, improve cognitive function and increase our overall mental health. Here are a few ways you can practise mindfulness on your walks: 

  • Pay attention to your senses, focus on what you can see, feel, smell, touch and hear. 
  • Take slow, deep breaths. Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth. 
  • Walk slow and deliberately, paying attention to each step you take. 
  • Focus on the present moment. 
  • Practice gratitude. 


Shawmind has a mission to improve mental health across the nation. We want to provide early intervention to prevent a further mental health crisis. If you want to support our mission, please donate or choose to do one of our mental health courses 


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How Stress Impacts Your Overall Wellbeing

We all experience stress at some point in our lives. Although some stressful periods can come and go, it is important to consider that excessive stress can have an impact on our overall well-being.

In 2018, 74% of adults in the UK felt ‘unable to cope’ from high levels of stress. During this Stress Awareness Month, as part of our mental health awareness aim, we want to raise awareness about the impacts of stress.

We’ll be discussing the long term and short-term effects of stress, as well as some signs you should consider which indicate you are experiencing stress.

What are the short-term effects of stress?

Body aches

Excessive tension in our body can lead to stress headaches, also known as tension headaches. Some individuals experiencing stress may also get stomach aches and muscle aches.

Although painkillers can relieve the discomfort, the only way to properly cure these issues is to destress.

Poor sleep quality

During periods of stress, our brains are overworked and we may be constantly thinking about the stressors in our lives. Unfortunately, this can negatively impact the quality of sleep that we get. We may find it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Quality sleep is one of the most important things for our physical and mental health. Lack of sleep can lead to a number of complications.

Mood fluctuations

Stress can impact our mood. We may experience a range of negative emotions along with stress. This includes anxiety, sadness, irritability, anger and even depression.

Difficulty thinking straight

Stress can negatively impact our cognitive function. When we’re stressed, a large portion of our thinking capacity is focused on our stressors. During periods of high stress levels, we can find it difficult to remember things, concentrate or make decisions.

Decreased immunity

Stress can impact our immunity, meaning we are more likely to contract viruses and infections. Fighting off any illness may take longer than usual due to the low immunity.

What are the long term effects of stress?

Cardiovascular diseases

Stress can increase blood pressure which can cause an individual’s heart to work overtime. Over a long period of time, this can have detrimental impacts to a person’s cardiovascular health, leading to complications such as hypertension, heart disease and stroke.

Digestive issues

Stress releases hormones in the body that can cause our organs to function differently. Chronic stress can lead to issues such as IBS, stomach ulcers, acid reflux and more.

Reproductive complications

Stress can interfere with reproductive health through hormonal imbalances. An individual experiencing chronic stress can deal with fertility issues and menstrual irregularities.

Serious mental health issues

If left untreated, stress over long periods of time can lead to serious mental illnesses that can be more difficult to treat. Examples of this are depression, PTSD, substance abuse, eating disorders and more.


Stress can increase the level of cortisol in the body, which can increase insulin resistance, which leads to high blood sugar levels and fat storage. Furthermore, many stressed people may overeat and under exercise which can lead to obesity.


Prolonged stress can lead to cognitive decline which puts individuals at risk of developing Alezheimers.

What are two warning signs of stress?

It is important to pay attention to the warning signs of stress so you can address the issue before it becomes serious. If you spot these signs in your behaviour or someone else’s, it is time for a stress management intervention to improve mental health.

  • Body Pains
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Sadness
  • Feeling overwhelmed.
  • Racing thoughts
  • Forgetfulness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgement.
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Isolating oneself
  • Procrastinating
  • Neglecting responsibilities.
  • Substance Abuse
  • Changes in social interaction

How to reduce stress

If you’re feeling stressed, it is important to tackle the issue and deal with the stress before it becomes too late and you experience some of the long term side effects. It is important to relieve stress early, so if you spot any of the above signs, it is time to prioritise your mental and physical health and get to the root of the problem.

A few things you can do to manage stress and boost your emotional health is to stay physically active, indulge in hobbies, socialise with friends and family and practice mindfulness.

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

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

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Why Stress Management is so Important

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

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

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

How is stress defined?

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

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

The emotional impact of stress

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

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

What are the benefits of stress management?

Improved physical health

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

Better mental health

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

Quality sleep

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

Increased productivity

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

Successful relationships

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

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

Better coping skills

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

What are some stress management techniques


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

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

Regular exercise

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

Participating in hobbies

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

Here are some ideas for stress relieving hobbies:

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

Time management

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

Social time

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

Take regular breaks

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

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

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

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Breaking the Stigma: Menopause and Mental Health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Suicide

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

2. Perimenopausal Depression

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

Symptoms of perimenopausal depression include:

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

How can I improve my mental health during menopause?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Menopause Support Services

British Menopause Society

The Menopause Charity

Women’s Mental Health Support Services

Wellbeing of Women


Women’s Aid – Until Women and Children are Safe

Agenda – Alliance for Women and Girls at Risk

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How Sleep Can Improve Your Mental Health and Well-being

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

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

How does mental health affect sleep?

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

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

How does lack of sleep affect the brain?

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

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

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

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

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

How can quality sleep improve mental health?

The mental health benefits of quality sleep are undeniable.

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

1. Improved mood

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

2. Improved cognitive function

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

3. Reduce risk of mental disorders

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

4. Improved overall physical health

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

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

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

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

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

Stress and anxiety

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

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

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

Poor sleep habits

Unhealthy sleep habits include:

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

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

Medical conditions and medications

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

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

Caffeine, alcohol, and poor diet

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

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

How much sleep is important for mental health?

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

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

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

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

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We Need to Pay Attention to Women’s Mental Health

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

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

Why is Women’s Mental Health Important?

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

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

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

What Are Signs of Mental Ill health in Women?

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

Signs of potential mental ill health in women are:

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

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

How We Can Increase Mental Health Awareness Among Women?

Here are some ways we can do this:

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

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

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

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Young people, homelessness and mental health…

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

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

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

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

The link between homelessness and mental health

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

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

Common mental health problems that can arise during homelessness are:

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

Why should we support young people’s mental health?

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

How can we support young people’s mental health?

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

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

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

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

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How hearing loss can impact mental health

It’s World Hearing Day!

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

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

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

The Impact of Hearing Loss on Mental Health

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

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

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

Protecting Mental Health Through Hearing Loss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are the benefits of a sober social life?

Improved physical and mental health

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

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

Increased productivity

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

Cut costs

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

Improved relationships

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

Better clarity and perspective

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

How to socialise without alcohol

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

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

Creative pursuits

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

Volunteer work

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

Fitness and sports

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

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

Cultural events

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

Game nights

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

How to build a social circle

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

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

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

Men’s mental health has become an important topic over the past decade. With 3 out of 4 suicides by men under 35 years of age, poor mental health in the male population has become a pressing issue for health experts across the country.

Shawmind is an early intervention charity. We help equip people with the knowledge and skills they need to look after their mental health. Due to the social constructs of masculinity, many men struggle to come forward with their mental health issues and seek help. In this article, we will be discussing some common mental health problems men face. We will also discuss ways in which men can improve their mental health.

Understanding men’s mental health

As understood by the Oxford Dictionary, ‘mental health is a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being’. This is not to be confused with mental illness, which is described by the NHS as ‘an illness that affects that way people think, feel, behave, or interact with others’.

Poor mental health can have physiological implications. If left untreated, poor mental health can lead to higher levels of stress hormones in the body. This has a snowball effect, and can lead to excessive weight gain, heart problems, a low immune system and more.

If poor mental health is left untreated for too long, it can lead to much larger issues. Anxiety and depression can lead to complex mental health disorders such as substance abuse or suicide.

Common symptoms of poor mental health include:

  • Extreme mood changes
  • Social withdrawal
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Feelings of anxiety and dread
  • Feelings of sadness

Whether you’re a man or woman experiencing these feelings, it is important to seek help. For many men, it may seem difficult to seek emotional help because you may feel that it is a sign of failure or weakness on your part, but this is untrue. It is important to speak to someone. You can speak to a professional, trusted colleague, friend or family member. Whatever you feel comfortable with!

The current state of men’s mental health

The statistics around men’s mental health are a cause for concern. According Mental Health Foundation in the UK:

  • Men are 3x more likely to die of suicide than women.
  • Men have lower levels of life satisfaction than women.
  • Men are more likely to sleep rough, abuse substances and alcohol and go missing.
  • Men aged 40-49 have highest suicide rates.
  • Men are less likely to seek psychological therapy than women, taking only 36% of referrals.

So why don’t men seek mental health help?

Society is full of dangerous gender stereotypes that put men and women in social cages. The feminist movement and the men’s mental health movement work towards destigmatising gender norms that can hold us back.

In society, men are expected to be strong, stoic breadwinners who are always emotionally independent and in control. Carrying this burden can become tiresome, and never seeking emotional help can lead to feelings of isolation and depression.

Oftentimes, men can feel embarrassed or demasculinised if they speak to anyone about their emotional struggles. However, the men’s mental health movement is working towards breaking down stigmas surrounding the mental wellbeing of men, encouraging them to speak up and speak out about this silent killer.

What can men do to improve their mental health?

Lifestyle changes

We can often pick up bad habits throughout our lives. From not sleeping enough to eating junk, these habits can negatively impact our mental balance.

The brain needs social interaction, exercise and nutrition so it can produce the right hormones to keep itself and the body functioning at an optimum level. Here are a few lifestyle changes you can make to improve your mental health.

  • Cutting out junk and eating a healthy diet
  • Sleeping the recommended hours for your age
  • Self-care to reduce stress, such as meditation and relaxation
  • Taking up new hobbies and old ones
  • Socialising with friends and family
  • Making time for yourself

Speaking to friends, family or colleagues

Although it may seem daunting at first, speaking to someone can be extremely beneficial. Choose someone you trust and feel comfortable around. Speaking to someone can take the weight off your shoulders and make your emotional load feel lighter.

Seek professional help

If you’re experiencing mental health problems, speak to your GP. They can refer you to a mental health expert who you can talk about mental health with. They can support you through your symptoms of depression, anxiety or any other mental health issues.

If you have the means, you can refer yourself to a mental health professional who will treat you privately.

Speaking to someone you know can be daunting and too vulnerable for some people. Also, some people may not have anyone to talk to within their immediate circle. A mental health professional can gain a holistic understanding of your life, your issues, and your lifestyle, and they will have no ‘agenda’ other than to see your mental health improve and you become the best version of yourself.

Multiple sessions can allow for your therapist to understand your issues, and can give curated advice that meets your needs and your lifestyle.

Speak to your employer

Many industries are waking to the issues of mental health in society. To encourage a healthy work environment and ensure good overall health for their employees, many employers have a designated HR specialist trained in mental health, or trained Mental Health First Aiders in several different departments within the business. Many companies have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) that provides free mental health support

Ask your employer if they have a service like this available. It can be beneficial and convenient to speak to someone in the workplace, and see what men’s mental health resources are available.

Many people also don’t know that it is a legal right in the UK to take a sick day for mental health reasons. If you’re needing a day to yourself for mental health reasons, be sure to speak to your employer and take a sick day.

Sometimes we need a break from life and adult expectations. Take a day off to focus on self care and looking after your mental health.

Male mental health is an important issue. To get men talking, and raise awareness about mental health, we encourage you to seek professional help if you are experiencing depression, suicidal thoughts or any other mental health condition.

Shawmind is an early intervention charity, aiming to equip people with the knowledge they need to prevent the next generation from a mental health crisis and support those who need mental health help. Download our FREE Male Mental Health Guide or check out or Headucation programmes today.

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