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

4 Effective Ways to Boost Your Mood And Keep Well.

(image: Shutterstock)

Your mental health matters a great deal when it comes to your overall wellbeing. There may be days or times you feel low or maybe you’re someone who is managing a mental health or mood disorder currently.

Regardless of who you are, it’s important that you take positive steps in the right direction to take good care of yourself. Consider making and incorporating these changes and then notice how much better you feel overall. Here are four effective ways to boost your mood and be well so that you can get back to living fully and have a smile on your face while you do it.

1. Exercise & Move More

One effective way to boost your mood and be well is to exercise. Not only workout and break a sweat regularly but also commit to moving more throughout the day. Exercising is great for your mental health and can instantly put you in a better mood. Make working out fun by engaging in activities you enjoy and that get your body moving and making a playlist that keeps you motivated.

2. Get Organised & Declutter

Another effective way to boost your mood and be well is to get organised and reduce the clutter in your home, office, and life. You’ll feel less stressed daily and will be able to easily find what you’re looking for. Go through old boxes and get rid of or donate items you no longer use or want sitting around. As for anything you decide you want to keep but don’t want in your home, it would be useful to look into securing a storage unit with https://www.storagearea.com for the overflow.

3. Stay Social & Connect with Others

If you want to effectively boost your mood and be well then it’s in your best interest to build relationships with others, if you are able. Stay social when you can and make connections that are meaningful and rewarding. Keep a social calendar and be sure to get out and about once in a while so that you’re not always sitting around the house or feeling lonely. Sometimes this can be more difficult, so be kind to yourself.

You may want to join clubs or orgnaisations in your area, volunteer, or play group sports to help you stay better connected, if you want to. Otherwise, take up a hobby or two and make new friends this way as well. If you struggle with making friends or have social anxiety, you aren’t alone and there is a lot of support out there for you too!

4. Eat A Healthy Diet  

What you put in your body for fuel can also impact your mood and mental health. Feel better fast by eating a healthy diet and cutting back on sugar, alcohol, and processed and fried foods. Some foods can also cause anxiety and make you feel uneasy. Stick to a healthy and well-balanced diet filled with fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens, nuts, and lean proteins. It might help to get in the habit of cooking for yourself at home so you have more control over the ingredients you use and what you’re eating. Also, always drink plenty of water to make sure you stay hydrated and have more natural energy to get you through the day.  

Keeping well is something you can do for yourelf- go at your own pace and look after your mental health and overall wellbeing.

This article was written by a freelance writer.

Taking Lithium for Bipolar Disorder: Side Effects by Eleanor

Pre Lithium in 2010 (skinny minny)

Post Lithium (on my wedding day in 2019)

I first heard about Lithium carbonate, a natural salt and the ‘gold standard’ medicine for bipolar disorder, when I was in my teen years. My dad was taking it to help his bipolar episodes- Lithium is known to stabilise mood and stop mania and depression from occurring or lessening their impact. I knew then that it was quite a strong drug, that you would need blood tests and that it caused weight gain. But it really helped my dad with his illness.

Fast forward to 2004, I was just 16 and had been diagnosed with bipolar in hospital. My brain was still growing and both I and my psychiatrist were reluctant to try Lithium at that stage, so I was started on Carbamazepine, another mood stabiliser. It was only when this medicine stopped working about 10 years later in 2014, when I was struggling with suicidal depression and anxiety (which then turned into a manic episode that I was hospitalised for), that I seriously considered taking Lithium to help me, like it helped my dad.

Lithium was first found to have benefits for patients with bipolar disorder in the 1950s, with a discovery by psychiatrist John Cade. Even today, we still don’t know what causes the disorder, but it is believed that Lithium stabilises mood – particularly mania. The psychiatrist.com notes this,

The real breakthrough in lithium therapy came in 1952, when Erik Stömgren, a Danish psychiatrist and head of the Aarhus University psychiatric clinic in Risskov who had read Cade’s article, suggested to a staff psychiatrist at the hospital, Mogens Schou, that he undertake a randomly controlled study of lithium for mania. Random controls were just being introduced to psychiatric drug trials at that time, and Schou randomly assigned patients to lithium or placebo by the flip of a coin. His results were published in a British journal with the article concluding, “The lithium therapy appears to offer a useful alternative to [electr[electroconvulsive therapy] since many patients can be kept in a normal state by administration of a maintenance dose.”

For me personally, Lithium treatment has changed my life in a number of ways- both good and not so good. Lets start with the good, I havn’t had an episode of mania and psychosis or suicidal severe depression in 8 years, which is largely down to medication helping my bipolar brain chemistry. It has worked for me- which is amazing- and I never thought I would find an effective treatment to help me. I have bipolar 1, the most severe type and although Dad has the same and was helped, I never thought it would lead me to remission. In fact, in 2014 when I was under the home treatment team after hospital, one of the nurses asked me to consider whether Lithium might not work for me and I might have to live with episodes… needless to say I cried as was very fragile and asked her to leave! She was wrong, thankfully.

On to the bad things: Lithium in combination with an antipsychotic Quetaipine has caused me to put on a lot of weight, as it slows metabolism. I also have to have 3 monthly blood tests to check my lithium level is within the correct range as too much is toxic to the body. Thankfully, I drink enough water and eat enough salt so I have never had a toxic reading but its a very careful balance..I have to always look after myself. Another bad side effect is skin sensitivity and acne- Lithium causes spots- so I have had to adapt my skincare regime and diet accordingly. Sometimes certain foods plus Lithium can trigger this too. Again, I have to pay more attention to my physical health as a result of taking Lithium and Quetaipine

The weight gain in particular has been a worry for me and is something I am working on., especially as diabetes runs in my family. Then there is the Lithium thirst…

Lithium as mentioned is a salt, and as it metabolises in the body, makes you incredibly thirsty. You have to be careful not to get dehydrated. Hence my love affair with Robinsons squash and the occasional ice cold fruit juice. No matter how much I drink, I can never fully quench my thirst, even if well hydrated. Lithium thirst is not the easiest… but Robinsons is my friend as its lower in calories and more delicious than plain water! And now I am thirsty again… haha

So I have a love-hate affair with Lithium. Brilliant for my mental health, not so great for my physical health at times. There is also a concern because over time Lithium can cause kidney and thyroid issues, which is why I have blood tests too. So its not perfect, but it really helps me to live my life and have stable mental health. Over time, its important i am monitored. I have been on it 8 years, but it could start causing problems at some point.

Additionally, when I please G-d get pregnant one day, my lithium levels will need to be monitored (but thats a blog for another time).

I don’t have nausea or trembling on Lithium which is good, but the other side effects (particularly weight) have not been so pleasant. I am so grateful though to have a medicine that keeps me well and out of hospital, able to live a life that some others take for granted.

Thanks to all who voted for this blog. If theres anything else you’d like to know, just ask a question and I will respond.

Eleanor x

Looking After Your Mental Health While Working from Home.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

When you work from home, it can be challenging to maintain a healthy work-life balance. You may find yourself working all hours of the day and night and not getting enough exercise or social time. This can lead to problems with your mental health. Here we will discuss some tips for looking after your mental health when working from home.

1) Make Sure To Take Breaks Throughout The Day

When you work from home, it is essential to make sure that you take breaks throughout the day. This will help you to avoid burnout and will allow you to recharge your batteries. Make sure to step away from your work every few hours, even if it is just for a few minutes. If you work from home and you notice that your mac is hot, go for a walk, make yourself a cup of tea, or call a friend while you wait for it to cool down.

Doing something that takes your mind off of work will help you return to your tasks feeling refreshed and ready to tackle them.

If possible, try to take a longer break in the middle of the day – this will give you something to look forward to and will help break up the monotony of working from home.

2) Set A Schedule And Stick To It

One of the best ways to stay on top of your mental health when working from home is to set a schedule and stick to it. Having a routine will help you to feel more in control of your work, and it will make it easier to take breaks when you need to.

If possible, try to start and end your workday simultaneously each day. This will create a sense of structure in your day, and it will give you something to look forward to.

In addition, make sure to schedule time for lunch and other breaks. Putting these into your schedule will ensure that you take them, and they will help you to avoid working straight through the day.

3) Make Sure Your Workspace Is Comfortable

When you work from home, your workspace is likely to be in your house. This can make it difficult to separate your home life from your work life. To help with this, it is essential to make sure that your workspace is comfortable and inviting.

Your workspace should be somewhere that you enjoy spending time, so make sure to personalize it with things that make you happy. If possible, try to set up your workspace near a window with natural light. This will help you to feel more energized and will reduce eye strain.

In addition, make sure that your workspace is free of distractions. Turn off the television, put away any toys or games, and close the door to any other rooms in the house. This will help you to focus on your work and will minimize distractions.

In conclusion, working from home can affect your mental health. However, by following these tips, you can make sure that you stay on top of your mental health and avoid burnout.

Make sure to take breaks throughout the day, set a schedule and stick to it, and create a comfortable and inviting workspace. By following these tips and looking after your health, you will be able to maintain a healthy work-life balance and will be able to enjoy working from home.

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

Mental Health Chat With Penny Power OBE and Thomas Power of Business Is Personal with Myself and my Dad Mike Segall. Our Journey With Bipolar Disorder and Anxiety.


Yesterday, 9th Feb, my dad Mike and I were honoured to be interviewed by his friends of many years, Penny Power OBE and Thomas Power of Business is Personal- live on Linkedin, Youtube and Facebook.

They asked us to come on their weekly show to talk about our hereditary journey with bipolar disorder and anxiety and shed light on all things mental health.

It was a real pleasure to talk all about our lives and how my Dad was diagnosed with bipolar just 4 years before me.

Trigger warning: discusses suicidal ideation and psychosis.


Thanks Penny and Thomas! We hope it battles stigma around this much misunderstood illness. Watch here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fghp8RNTvX0

Managing Our Mental Health During Christmas And The Festive Season by Eleanor

(image: Jonathan Borba: Pexels)

Its nearly here everyone! Just 4 days until our country (the UK) stops and celebrates Christmas (or uses the day as a chance to see family because they’re off work, like we do!).

The pressure is taken off for me during this period because its just a chance for relaxation for us as we’re Jewish, we don’t have the same expectations for the day as others. However, I know for many people Christmas is a stressful time where they see family they don’t normally see and may feel they have to hide how they are truly feeling with their mental health. The pressures are also on for the cost of food and gifts during this time and many people get into debt too.

We already have less daylight during this time and with the Covid pandemic a lot of people are feeling lower and more anxious . This has been the new normal for us all for over a year and particularly here in England where we have record numbers of Omicron Covid cases- but aren’t yet in lockdown.

I know I have been feeling a bit more anxious lately to do with Covid and other things… but I am also going to be kind to myself and give myself a break and time off work to relax also! I love sitting eating Quality street or a Terrys chocolate orange (yum) with loved ones and watching a good film like The Holiday… thats my favourite. Second is the Muppets Christmas Carol. Third Love Actually. Whats yours?

(image: lilartsy: Pexels)

I am lucky my bipolar is in remission and I am stable on medication. So I don’t have to worry about severe depressive or manic episodes right now. But, I still need to look after myself or practise self care- lots of sleep, not too much sugar, and check in with myself or my therapist if needed if my anxiety flares.

Obviously, over Christmas lots of NHS mental health professionals aren’t available but you can reach out to helplines such as Samaritans 116 123 (UK) if you need someone to talk to who will just listen.

You can also text SHOUT to 85258 if you’re in crisis and need support.

In an emergency, if you have a phone line to a hospital outpatient crisis team that are working over Christmas, call that and if not in an emergency you may have to go to Accident and Emergency (but there could be long waits).

Mind have an amazing list of helplines, organisations and food banks such as Trussell Trust for over the Christmas period should you need, click here: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/christmas-and-mental-health/useful-contacts/

Wishing you all a very happy holidays, a peaceful festive season. This time can also be hard for people with alcohol or drug addictions or eating disorders, as Christmas is often a time with plenty of alcohol and triggering things.

Remember that its OK to be struggling but tell people you trust and reach for support. May your Christmas/ holiday season be merry and bright- and if it isn’t, remember things can get better from here, you can recover and you can be helped. Always tell someone you trust if you feel suicidal or want to harm yourself, so you can be protected and helped through these feelings.

Thank you for all your support this year,

Love,

Eleanor



Dear NHS: The Search for EMDR Therapy by Eleanor

sunsetlake1

(image: Freepik)

Today I am writing because I have had enough with the NHS mental health services.  Firstly, I was told that in my area of London, the NHS- national health service doesn’t fund EMDR (rapid eye movement processing therapy- for trauma and PTSD). Why, I have no idea as it is desperately needed. However, I was referred to IAPT wellbeing service (still under NHS), who do have EMDR therapists. Some telephone questionnaires later and I have found that I have been discharged from IAPT – to another team that doesn’t provide the therapy I so dearly need.

I have had years of therapy- CBT x3 and psychodynamic- most had to be privately funded due to the waiting lists in NHS. I need vital treatment for the trauma I faced of becoming so unwell,being in hospital and all I faced during mania and psychosis. My trauma comes out in anxiety and panic attacks which disrupt my daily living. EMDR helps process trauma and I am hoping it will help me to live fully again.

Due to this, the only option with therapy may be to go privately- which is expensive and not ideal for me- I can’t afford it alone. However, I have found an accredited therapist online so this will have to be the route I go down I think. I will speak to the psychiatrist in the other team but don’t hold out any hope as they don’t fund EMDR and there is a 2 year psychology waiting list. Yup, you heard that correctly, 2 years.

I am not doing so well- I have been feeling lower in the mornings and more anxious since having to leave my job. This was another blow today.

Yet….

I am trying to keep myself positive and focused and going. But some days, I just feel like hiding away.

Some positives- I am grateful for:

  1. My new bright pink cardigan is making me smile
  2. Our wedding photos and video come back today
  3. Finding a therapist
  4. Bipolar UK sharing about my book
  5. Love and support from others
  6. Job interviews and book promotion

When people say fund our NHS mental health services, they mean it. People like me are denied access to vital support and put on waiting lists or fobbed off. Its not OK.

Eleanor x

 

How stressed are UK Students in 2019? Guest post by the Natwest Student Living Index

 

natwest1

(Image: Natwest Student Living Index)

The NatWest Student Living Index 2019 has launched recently,  delving into both stress and mental health for students at university.
https://personal.natwest.com/personal/life-moments/students-and-graduates/student-living-index.html

University-age students are more engaged with mental health and wellbeing than ever, and the study found that 1 in 4 students are very satisfied with their university’s mental health support.

Other noteworthy findings from the survey include:
• 71% of students say that their university offers affordable health and wellbeing programs (gym classes, yoga, meditation, mindfulness)
• 40% of students are concerned about their financial situation following university
• 45% of students find their university degree stressful
• 1 in 4 UK students find managing money stressful

The 2019 NatWest Student Living Index revealed that close to half of all UK students feel
extremely stressed by their degree studies. 1 in 4 students in the UK described managing their money as extremely stressful, while only 6% felt they received sufficient money management support from their university on average.

NatWest’s Student Living Index 2019 asked students from 35 top university cities about all aspects of student life, including the amount of wellbeing and mental health support on offer for students at university in 2019.

Is their degree the cause of the stress? On average, 45% of students in the UK feel extremely stressed by their degree  Cambridge (60%) and Durham (57%) students are the most stressed by their degree studies.
Have Universities supported students with mental health resources?

1 in 4 students are very satisfied with their university’s mental health resources, while 71% said that their university offers affordable health and wellbeing programs.
Interestingly, while students in Poole feel the most stressed by money management, the city also came last when students were asked about the availability of affordable well-being programs:

 53% of students in Poole said their university offers affordable well-being programs, this is the lowest ranked city and 18% below national average.

 Less than 1% of Students in Reading and Stirling feel supported by their university when managing their finances.

 94% of students in Aberystwyth feel their university offers affordable well-being programs

Are you a student in the UK? Read more about the findings here:  https://personal.natwest.com/personal/life-moments/students-and-graduates/student-living-index.html

Can Hypnotherapy be used for insecurity and self-esteem? Guest blog by A Time to Change Hypnotherapy

hypno1

(image: hypnotherapyhorizons.com)

 

Frequently asked questions and useful information for you to know:

Low self-esteem and insecurity are common issues that weigh on people’s minds daily. Some people experience harmful effects of insecurity more severely than others and seek various methods of self-help. On the other hand, those don’t know how to safely deal with these emotions turn to more harmful methods of relief.

If you have tried countless self-help fads or simply try to continuously block out internalized negativity, hypnotherapy may be the solution for you.

What is hypnotherapy?

There are many hypnotherapy techniques, but they all involve inducing a state of hypnosis, or relaxed focus, to connect with your subconscious mind. This creates an open and reflective state of mind that addresses negative emotions and visualizes change. In other words, you can use hypnotherapy to bring about an intense awareness and focus for the change you desire in your own life.

Is there any science behind it?

Hypnotherapy relies heavily on the science of brainwave patterns. The brain is always experiencing a level of electrical energy. And when those waves are occurring within a certain frequency range, you’re relaxed, but awake – your subconscious is receptive to new behavioural suggestions. This is when a hypnotherapist can use visualisation exercises to guide you to a more positive outlook.

How can hypnotherapy help my self-esteem?

Low self-esteem is caused by a constant spiral of negative thoughts. These thoughts could be caused by negative emotions culminating from childhood trauma. Thoughts like, “I’m not good enough” and other harmful subconscious judgements will keep you down.

Low self-esteem also causes or increases the side effects of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and internalised emotional blockages.

Hypnotherapy for self-esteem creates new neural pathways that foster positive thoughts and emotions. Use hypnotherapy to rewrite negative mantras, from “I can’t” to “I can.” With hypnotherapy, you can change your harmful thoughts into positive thoughts about yourself and your surroundings. If you are looking for more resources A Time For Change hypnotherapy has incredible resources to help with issues ranging from vocational skill improvement and motivation, to managing unwanted behavior.

Can hypnotherapy cure my insecurity?

Like self-esteem issues, insecurity about one’s self and surroundings is common. Insecurity manifests in a variety of ways. You have insecurity if you experience a daily lack of confidence, have trouble speaking to strangers, or authority figures, can’t articulate what you need from your romantic partner, or experience paranoia that people are judging you.

Although hypnotherapy is not a cure-all, it can significantly turn around those negative thoughts and emotions related to insecurity. Seek out hypnotherapy for insecurity for help in choosing a romantic partner, performing work tasks with more confidence, and approaching life with a more positive outlook.

How many sessions do I have to attend to see results?

Hypnotherapy is a way for you to be in control of your subconscious mind. It helps you connect with subconscious memories, trauma, and negative thoughts in order to break old patterns and manifest positivity.

Some people might notice results within a few sessions, while others will need to work more at length with a hypnotherapist. Patience will lead to a continuation of positive thoughts.

Is there anything else I need to know about hypnotherapy?

Before your first visit with your hypnotherapist, make sure you are ready to see the change in your own life. Hypnotherapy is a powerful tool that is used to change the negative to the positive. However, always ask your healthcare provider for more information if you are dealing with serious mental illness.

 

This guest blog was written by A Time to Change hypnotherapy, based in the USA

 

The Anxiety Rollercoaster : Going beyond my Comfort Zone. by Eleanor

morganharper1

(image: Pinterest)

I don’t really know where to start with this blog except I have needed to write this one  for several weeks. As many of you know, I struggle with an anxiety disorder (alongside/ part of the bipolar) which when triggered can make life quite difficult. This includes things that anyone would find anxiety provoking, such as job interviews.

I have had to dig deep, leave the house and use every ounce of strength to attend face to face job interviews in the past few weeks. This is not an exaggeration. My body floods with adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones) and I feel overwhelmed. All my energy becomes consumed around preparing for the interview, attending the interview or NOT attending the interview because I wake up in a panic not wanting to go out- and having to try and reschedule it. Which just adds more stress as I fear I will lose the chance to interview.

This is really hard for me. There is still such a stigma to mental health issues that disclosing it early on without someone knowing you fully, means you are still less likely to be hired. Having to reschedule an interview also floods me with fear that the employers will think I am just flaky, even if I say I am unwell.

I am very proud of my achievements in the past month. Last week, I went to an interview and did well- travelled alone, was fine throughout. I even got a second interview. However, I woke this morning at 7am in anxiety and am seeing if I can reschedule it.

Essentially, this is one big test of exposure therapy. Reaching outside my comfort zone and going out into the world to use my skills. Its scary and exhausting. But it can also be validating and exhilarating too.

Today I feel a bit of an exhausted, worried mess. However, I refuse to let my panic disorder beat me. Next week, I have some positive things happening too re work.

For anyone else going through this- you aren’t alone. I take medication on time, I have had years of therapy and I still have panic attacks at times and struggle with the debilitating anxiety. I am searching for a new form of therapy (maybe EMDR- rapid eye movement) as I am concerned that my disorder mimics some PTSD symptoms, although that will need to be determined by a psychiatrist . I went through a lot in 2014 when in hospital and just before in a manic state and when I came home after and got back to work.  I wonder if this is what is behind the panic.

This is an honest assessment of whats going on. Despite the anxiety attacks, I have been able to see some friends. I am also still writing my book – deadline fast approaching.

Thank you to all my online twitter ‘cheerleader’ friends who sent me so many messages of love and support, of cute animals and inspiring quotes. You helped give me the strength to go to my interview and be ok. And to my friends and family in ‘real life’ too.  

If you are also struggling, keep fighting. I am always here for you to talk too.

Love,

Eleanor x