Managing Mental Health When You Start College Or University.

(image: Pexels: Ketut Subiyanto)

Going to college or university is one of the most exciting life events we experience, but it can also be one of the most daunting. This is a period of upheaval and change, which often triggers a mixture of emotions. If you’re preparing to start a new course or move to a different town or city, here’s a handy guide to managing mental health.

Make your new base feel like home

One of the best ways to settle into a new area and adjust to a different routine and environment is to make your new base feel like home. Whether you’re living in student accommodation or you’re renting a flat or a house, try to be proactive in creating a homely, welcoming feel. Decorate your bedroom and turn it into a sanctuary that makes you feel relaxed and calm. Put photographs up on the walls, use soft furnishings to add a cosy feel and choose colours that you love. Create a space that celebrates your style and personality and makes you feel safe and comfortable. 

Socialise

Making friends is one of the biggest challenges for students. Some people are naturally very sociable and they’ll start conversations and build relationships without even thinking about it, but for others, creating bonds is more difficult. Try to socialise and meet people through activities, lectures, classes and group sessions and societies and clubs. Use your hobbies and interests to find people with shared passions and don’t panic if you don’t click with the people in your flat or on your course immediately. Keep putting yourself out there and you’ll find your crowd. It’s important to be yourself and to find friends who make you feel confident and valued. You shouldn’t feel like you have to change or put on an act. 

Look after yourself

Going to university is synonymous with partying, staying up late and embracing the experience of living in student halls. It’s fun to go out and enjoy a few drinks with new friends, but try to look after yourself as best you can. Get enough sleep, stay hydrated, keep an eye on how much you drink and try to follow a healthy diet. Exercise daily, spend time outdoors, hang out with friends and keep in touch with family members. 

(image: Pexels Pixabay)

Don’t be afraid to talk

It can be incredibly stressful to start a new life at university, especially if you’ve never been away from home before, or you find it hard to make friends. If you’re struggling with your mental health, or you feel anxious or low for a prolonged period, don’t be afraid to talk. Open up to friends you trust or relatives, speak to your GP, or research resources you can access through your college or university. It may also be helpful to speak to others who are in the same boat via online communities and social media groups. There are also free helplines you can call such as Samaritans 116 123 (UK).

Going to college or university is an adventure, but it can also be an upheaval. It’s crucial to look after yourself and manage your mental health. Socialise and make friends, create a happy, calming home environment and take care of your body and mind. Talk to people and seek advice if you are finding life tough. 

This article was written by a freelance writer.

PTSD Therapies And Which One Might Be Right for You by Kara Masterson.

(image: Nick Hewings, unsplash)

PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is one of the most commonly recognised mental health issues because most people endure at least one traumatic experience in their lifetime. Though it’s commonly associated with war veterans, PTSD can occur from enduring the trauma of an abusive relationship, ill health, the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a job.

Thankfully, there are many PTSD therapies you can choose from in order to experience healing. 

Prolonged Exposure Therapy 

When people struggle with a form of PTSD, avoidance is one of the most common approaches. After all, no one wants to revisit the trauma. However, that trauma impacts the way a person lives in the future. By facing the trauma and incorporating activities such as deep breathing exercises, you’ll decrease the amount of power that traumatic event holds over you. Exposure comes in a number of ways- but should be done with a qualified therapist. One example of exposure is to record yourself as you talk about the event that traumatised you. As you listen to the recording, you can do a calming activity such as colouring in order to help you cope and heal with the story of your trauma. 

EMDR Therapy 

EMDR stands for “eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing”, and it’s been instrumental in healing people who’ve dealt with traumatic events. Actress Sandra Bullock famously discussed how she used the assistance of an EMDR therapist in order to deal with various traumatic events in her lifetime. By thinking about the event as you concentrate on something your therapist is doing, you can help to associate a positive experience with that traumatic one. Therapists use tools such as flashing lights, sounds, and movement in order to help with the healing journey. In order for it to be effective, consistent sessions for a few months are the best line of action, with a therapist you trust. 

Cognitive Processing Therapy 

Cognitive Processing Therapy is a PTSD treatment method that allows you to sit down and talk with your therapist about the traumatic event (or events) you’ve endured. You’ll need to process how you feel like it impacted your life. Once you’ve talked through it all, you’re tasked with the responsibility of writing it all down. The act of journaling helps to stimulate your mind to ponder on ways you can cope and adjust in order to move forward in the most abundant manner. Your therapist serves as a guide to help you process and heal with the truest version of the story of what happened to you. 

Stress Inoculation Training 

This method for healing your PTSD is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy. With this training method, you’ll learn various techniques such as self-massages in order to relax and get rid of the stress that’s associated with your trauma. You don’t need to be in a private space to do this type of training. It can be done on your own or within the safe space of a group. 

As the conversation surrounding mental health shifts, don’t be afraid or ashamed to get help. You don’t have to silently endure the negative impact of PTSD. While therapy requires you to show up and do the work, you can move past your trauma and experience healing. 

This article was written by writer Kara Masterson.

The Anxiety Train: A New Year by Eleanor

(Image: Unsplash)

Hi everyone,

I had been amazed over the summer by how much better I was doing with certain aspects of my anxiety and panic. I had a few panicky moments/ days but I was able to pick myself up and feel better quite quickly after.

At the moment though I can feel myself dipping back into anxious patterns. I had a panic attack in bed a few weeks ago, triggered by certain life stressors. Since then, I wake up flooded with anxiety and not feeling able to face the day/ feel like a doormouse and want to hibernate or hide. Sometimes this happens if I get triggered by something eg life stress or it can happen as the fluctuating rhythms of bipolar disorder. I am usually OK by late afternoon/evening but the mornings can be hard.

Change in seasons with less light, feeling extra pressures can lead my mind to try and protect me from a perceived fear due to past traumas (fear of judgement, fear of feeling exposed). This can mean that seeing people. going out a lot etc can become very difficult- welcome to social anxiety again. However, I know that this will not last forever.

This week, I had a good session with my therapist who advised me to try and take more time in the mornings to write, practise breathing and think about whats going on for me, with the aim of reducing anxiety. I do find this really hard as my default can be to shut down to look after myself (and hide away/sleep)- as my brain (subconscious) perceives a threat somewhere…

I have been through this before and come out the other side- and so I know I will be OK (and ironically, there is no need to panic over it) but its still stressful… and I just wish it wasn’t like this.

I am a person who loves routine and when I get out of a routine or pause, anxiety can flood in too.

I call it the anxiety train because it feels a bit like riding a fast train/ a roller coaster of ups and downs. It doesn’t stop fully but it can suddenly hurtle me and I have to calm myself. Its based on previous behaviour patterns that served me at a time when my brain thought it needed to protect me as a teenager and although I have had years of therapy and take medication, it can sometimes come back.

I will be alright in the end, you’ll see (Mrs Potts- beauty and the beast). I have lots of support but wanted to be honest about where I am.

We are approaching a Jewish New Year, and I pray that I will be blessed with better health and less anxiety coming (as well as good things and health for my loved ones).

Thanks for reading and allowing me to be honest,

Shana tova and only happiness. If you’re struggling, please reach out to someone you trust/love or Samaritans helpline. My DMs are open too,

Eleanor x

Mental Health At Work: First Aid Products Have Surged In Popularity In 2022.

(image: MHFA England)

Awareness days, weeks and months have helped to familiarise people all over the world with the term “Mental Health First Aid”. Now, first aid retailer FirstAid.co.uk reports a 260% uplift in interest for MHFA products on their site, noting that an increase in work-related stress, depression and anxiety cases each year is the most likely driving force.

The retailer has now sold more Mental Health First Aid items this year so far than everyday travel and motoring first aid kits.

Data from the Health and Safety Executive shows that cases of work-related ill health (of which 50% are stress, depression and anxiety) have risen almost 28% since 2015, despite physical injuries being in decline since 2000.

Their data also shows that 820,000 people in Great Britain suffered from work-related stress, depression and anxiety in 2021, compared to 441,000 people who sustained a physical injury at work.

“According to Mental Health First Aid England, one in six people of working age in the UK is experiencing symptoms of mental ill health at any given time.” Says Mike Thakoordin, MHFA Instructor and Suicide First Aid Associate at FirstAid.co.uk“We know that around 81% of employers have increased their focus on employee mental health since the pandemic began, and it is fair to say that awareness days and events are doing their part to sustain that focus. 

“During the first week of Stress Awareness Month in April we had an 85% increase in the number of people visiting our stress-related products compared to 2021, and we’re anticipating a similar surge between Suicide Prevention Day in September and World Mental Health Day in October as individual and business shoppers research items and guidance that can support those who are struggling.”

(image: Unsplash)

While events and awareness days like these play a big part in the ongoing rise in interest around mental health-related products online, it’s the persisting growth in the number of people struggling with poor mental health that is likely the bigger factor at play. Despite several years of employers saying they’re taking mental health more seriously, the reality is that a huge number of people each year still find themselves with too much work, not enough rest, workplace politics issues and concerns over job security – among other things.

“For several years running now, the HSE has reported an increase in the number of people taken ill by work-related stress, depression and anxiety.”  Thakoordin goes on to say. “Poor workplace mental health has knock-on effects in many other areas, and we hope that this increase in people shopping for MHFA materials translates into a greater number of workplaces offering meaningful, consistent support.

“With the 2-day Mental Health First Aid course recently being updated, now is the time to get enrolled and play your part in making workplaces safer from a mental health perspective.”


For information on how to recognise stress in the workplace, and advice on dealing with stress,
visit FirstAid’s Stress In The Workplace page.

This article was written in collaboration with First Aid.co.uk

Are Workplaces Doing Enough for Mental Health in a Post-Covid Era?

(image: Mateus Campos Felipe at Unsplash)

The global coronavirus pandemic brought mental health and personal wellbeing to the forefront of our working life. As more companies return to the office, employers need to think about whether or not they are doing enough to make mental health in the workplace a priority. We speak to consumer finance startup, CapitalBean.com, to get some insight.

Workplace Mental Health Post-Covid

“The coronavirus pandemic highlighted serious concerns regarding mental health and personal wellbeing,” explains Richard Allan of Capital Bean.

“With ongoing uncertainty and a heightened sense of risk, it could be argued that we were experiencing an unprecedented global mental health crisis, often with no end in sight.” 

From a workplace perspective especially, many workers were facing uncertainty regarding their job stability, redundancies and, for some, navigating an entirely new way of working and interacting with colleagues.”

“In response, many companies started to take employee mental health more seriously and implement frameworks and best practices; however, now that we are returning to normal and trying to leave Covid-19 in the past, what is the extent to which companies are keeping up with their commitment to employee mental health?”

The Return to the Office

During the Covid 19 pandemic, the majority of workers were learning how to do their jobs remotely. This presented a range of new challenges to navigate and loneliness was widely reported. Not only were people missing the daily social interactions with their colleagues, but they were also finding the blurred lines between home life and work life difficult to navigate – with people’s homes doubling up as their offices, many workers were finding it difficult to switch off and reported working more hours. 

Now that people are starting to return to the office, after adjusting to nearly three years of remote working, they are being faced with new challenges. People are finding the return to work difficult and reporting a great deal of anxiety regarding social interaction. In addition, after working from home, they are now having to juggle their home commitments alongside going to the office. Whether it is squeezing in laundry, balancing childcare, or even factoring in an extra hour for the commute, the return to the office is proving more difficult than expected for many and is causing stress and anxiety for some. Others prefer working from home, so there is a balance.

The Employer’s Role

Millions of workers are returning to the office or workplace with changed attitudes and new expectations. In order to attract and retain talent, it is important for employers to acknowledge this and respond empathetically. Many companies have included mental health in their promises to employees on return to the office but now it is their time to demonstrate that this is not merely lip service. 

Employers need to proactively introduce programmes that are promoting workplace mental wellbeing and help employees with the challenges that they are facing. It is important for workplaces to create a psychologically safe space for workers and welcome conversations surrounding mental health and support.

(image: Luis Villasmil at Unsplash)

The Great Resignation And Mental Health at Work

After the pandemic, more people than ever before started evaluating their working life and what their main priorities were. With new focus on mental wellbeing and work-life balance, workers started to question what their expectations were and what they required from their place of work. The great resignation, the mass exodus of millions of workers in 2021, left employers having to think about what they needed to offer workers to not only attract talent initially, but retain it. 

 Workers who were asked about the great resignation pinpointed lack of workplace communication, sense of belonging, employee-manager relationship and toxic environments all as reasons to leave their jobs. 

In a post-Covid era (and what should have been before this), it will fall to the employer to make sure their staff feel looked after, not just financially but also emotionally.

Employers need to make their employees feel like they are taken care of, respected and acknowledged, and that their personal wellbeing and mental health is a top priority. Going forward, this will be more important for jobseekers than free office lunches or staff drinks.

We all have mental health and it is vital this is acknowledged and cared for, and not ignored in the workplace.

This article contains links to partner organisations.

A Lovely Review Of My Book ‘Bring Me To Light’ By Deb Wilk at Living Bipolar Blog.

(image: https://www.pauladennan.com/reviews/)

Sometimes, you receive amazing book reviews on the internet and don’t realise they are there!

Yesterday, I stumbled upon Deb Wilk’s blog Living Bipolar – Deb has lived with bipolar disorder for many years and very kindly reviewed my book last year. She lives in the USA and is a talented blogger, sharing about her life living with bipolar.

I don’t always know what to expect with reviews, but this was so positive so thank you Deb for reading, enjoying and recommending my book Bring me to Light: Embracing my Bipolar and Social Anxiety. Heres some quotes from the review:

Every word, paragraph and chapter of Bring Me to Light was utterly mesmerizing.  Eleanor Segall’s account of her battle with bipolar 1, panic attacks, and crippling social anxiety is so vibrant that the reader feels as though they are experiencing it right alongside her.

I would love to describe the book in detail, but I am not going to give anything away because this book is an absolute must-read.  Anyone who is bipolar or loves someone who is, should read this story.  It is a moving narrative that anyone, even those who do not suffer with mental illness, should read.  

She is now an extremely forceful voice in the mental health community, and this accolade is incredibly well deserved.  Please read this book.  You will find it well worthwhile and, I am certain, as enthralling as I did.” (Deb Wilk, living bipolar blog)

To read more of Debs review click here

Bring me to Light is available now on Amazon and in all good bookshops (including Waterstones, W H Smith and Blackwells and is available globally).

5 Valuable Tips for Communicating With a Parent/ Person with Dementia

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Due to various factors, including the ageing population, dementia is on the rise. In the future, it could touch the lives of half the population, becoming one of the most common degenerative diseases. 

When a parent gets dementia, it can sometimes be disorientating and upsetting. All of a sudden, their behaviour changes and it’s not clear what’s going on. They just don’t seem like themselves and they can’t take on board what you say. 

Adjusting to this new reality can be challenging, but this article is here to help. In it, we run through some tips for communicating with a person who has dementia so that you can keep your relationship with them strong. 

Give Them Your Full Attention

Communicating with a person who has dementia becomes challenging when you don’t give them your full attention. Misunderstandings are common, so trying to watch TV or do the dishes at the same time as talking to them is a bad idea. 

Instead, address your parents directly in quiet surroundings. Make sure that there is nothing else going on at the same time, including screaming kids and so on. When approaching your parents, use non-verbal cues, such as touching them on the shoulder to indicate that you want to talk to them. 

State Your Words Clearly

Language can be fuzzy sometimes. But when our brains are healthy, most of us can get by. 

However, that’s not the case when your parents are receiving dementia care. It is considerably more challenging for them to understand what is going on and their surroundings. 

Therefore, always state your words clearly. Avoid raising your voice, as your parents may mistake this for aggression unless they are also hard of hearing. 

When you speak, use the same wording. Prepare yourself to repeat what you need to say several times.

Ask Simple Questions

If you do ask questions, keep them simple. Ideally, you want questions that your parents can answer “yes” or “no” to. Refrain from asking open-ended questions, such as “what type of food do you prefer?”

Break Down Activities Into Smaller Chunks

Telling a patient with dementia that they need to go shopping or get ready for the day is generally a bad idea. That’s because these tasks involve multiple smaller steps that they need to go through. To a healthy person, this all seems simple. But for a patient with dementia, it is considerably more challenging. 

For this reason, try breaking down tasks into a series of smaller steps. Instead of telling your parents to get ready, ask them to put on each item of clothing one at a time. 

Distract And Redirect

Sometimes people living with dementia can become frustrated and angry. Many do not understand what is going on. 

Because of this, it’s a good idea to distract and redirect. These psychological techniques make it easier for you to manage difficult interactions. Focus on the feelings they have and offer support, but then if that doesn’t work, offer immediate redirection, such as suggesting getting something to eat or going for a walk. 

It can be really challenging when a parent or family member has dementia- it can affect both mental and physical health. You may find yourself feeling exhausted, stressed and frustrated too- as well as sad that the person you love is being affected so much. Your loved one may also feel like this at the beginning and struggle with any loss of memory or function. Make sure they get the correct support and you look after yourself too- by practising self care and speaking to a therapist if need be.

This article was written by a freelance writer and contains do follow links.

My Interview On Life With Bipolar Disorder by Best For You NHS

(image: Best for You NHS)

The team at Best For You NHS interviewed me about my life journey with bipolar disorder and anxiety. I hope it helps anyone, particularly young people, who are struggling.

You can read the interview that I did with Annabel here. Trigger warning as discusses suicidal thoughts, being in hospital and sexual assault.!

Thank you Annabel and team!

Best for You is a new NHS programme in London to help young people and their families access mental health support We know many can’t access the support they do desperately need and CAMHS services here in the UK are overstretched. I hope that by sharing my story it helps young people feel less alone, but we desperately need more funding into childrens mental health services too!

(Images by Best for You NHS)

Eleanor x

Reasons Why Group Therapy Might Be Your Next Step to Healing by Lizzie Weakley.

(image: Pexels: §§

Accepting help for mental health issues is an undeniably courageous step in the healing process. Individual counseling can provide you with many helpful tools for coping with your issues, but so can group counselling. Here are a few reasons why group therapy might be the next step in your healing journey. 

Groups Are a Sounding Board 

One of the most beneficial aspects of group counselling is that the group can act as a sounding board. Whatever dilemmas you are facing, whatever you’re struggling with in your mind, you can voice it to your group and get helpful feedback. Your group mates will likely come from diverse backgrounds and have had their own unique experiences. Their outside perspectives can give you insight into how to handle difficult situations and emotions. Whether it is, a group can give you guidance based on their own experiences, which can help yours. 

Group Therapy Can Be More Cost-Effective Than Individual Therapy 

Group therapy can be more budget-friendly than individual therapy. And, just because group therapy tends to cost less, that does not mean it lacks any of the quality you would get from individual counselling. Group counselling can be empowering and helpful in the same way individual therapy is, and it is a great option for those who will have to pay out-of-pocket costs. 

Groups Help You Learn About Yourself 

Each of your group’s members will figuratively hold up a mirror so that you can take a deeper look at yourself. You can only learn so much about yourself on your own; having those outside perspectives can make your self-introspection all the more intensive and meaningful. There are things about yourself you might not be able to see that others can help you uncover. 

Groups Can Help You Develop Social Skills 

Social skills are something many of us adults haven’t fully developed, especially as we struggle with our own psychological issues. In a group, you might feel less isolated, plus you will have the opportunity to engage with other people. Here you can learn how to better get along with others and express yourself in a group setting. Studies have found that adventure-based group therapy can particularly help people develop their social skills. 

Whether you choose to do group therapy due to finances or because you want to build your social skills, it is an option that works well for most people. You get a new support network of people who are going through similar things and are also looking for reciprocal support. Allow them to hold up the mirror so you can look in and see who is really there. 

This article was written by freelance writer Lizzie Weakley

11 Most Effective Ways for People to Protect Their Mental Health- A Guide by The Mental Health Foundation.

(image: Mental Health Foundation)

The 11 most effective ways for people to protect their mental health are revealed in a guide launched today by the Mental Health Foundation. 

The free guide, Our Best Mental Health Tips is based on the Foundation’s own ground-breaking study on what protects people from common problems such as anxiety and depression.  

The innovative study on which the new guide is based combined existing evidence about how we can protect our mental health with experts’ views, alongside the opinions of members of the public. 

Dr Antonis Kousoulis, who led the research and is a Director of the Foundation, said: ‘Our new guide encourages us to take care of the fundamentals of life – our relationships, our experiences, our bodies and our finances.  

The evidence shows that this is far more likely to keep us mentally healthy than the gimmicks and miracle cures promoted by some in the ‘wellness’ industry, who prey on our vulnerability. 

The truth is, there are no quick fixes for good mental or physical health. What works is developing healthy habits in our daily lives, that help us to feel OK and able to cope with everything. 

For example, in our new guide we talk about getting more from our sleep, learning to understand and manage our feelings, planning things to look forward to and getting help with money problems.’ 

The full list of mental health-promoting actions suggested by the new guide is as follows: 

  • Get closer to nature 
  • Learn to understand and manage your feelings 
  • Talk to someone you trust for support 
  • Be aware of using drugs and/or alcohol to cope with difficult feelings 
  • Try to make the most of your money and get help with problem debts 
  • Get more from your sleep 
  • Be kind and help create a better world 
  • Keep moving 
  • Eat healthy food
  • Be curious and open-minded to new experiences 
  • Plan things to look forward to 

Most members of the public involved in the study had experienced their own, or family members’ problems with mental health, so had the benefit of hindsight when assessing what helps most with prevention.  

The study was published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Health Promotion

The new guide (and the research on which it is based) acknowledges that people may be unable to follow some of its suggestions, for instance because the place they live makes it impossible to sleep well or spend time close to nature. 

Dr Kousoulis added: ‘Enjoying good mental health should be an equally accessible goal for all of us, yet it is often out of reach for many. Government action is needed to create the circumstances that solve problems that are beyond individuals’ reach, and help prevent people having problems with mental health in the first place.’ 

You can download the new guide free of charge from the Mental Health Foundation website. You can also order hard copies by post, with a small charge.

About the Mental Health Foundation   

Our vision is of good mental health for all. The Mental Health Foundation works to prevent mental health problems. We drive change towards a mentally healthy society for all, and support communities, families and individuals to lead mentally healthy lives with a particular focus on those at greatest risk. The Foundation is the home of Mental Health Awareness Week www.mentalhealth.org.uk  

This is a non sponsored article written by the Mental Health Foundation.