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Mental Wellbeing

Everybody needs some help sometimes:

"Everyone said University would be great, but, for me,
it was torture. I felt miserably shy and alone,
as if I was on one side of a glass wall and
everyone else was on the other."

Mind Publications 2002

What do we mean by mental wellbeing?
Good mental health isn’t necessarily something you have but something you do. To be mentally well you must try to value and accept yourself. This means that generally you care about yourself. You work at loving yourself and try not to hate yourself. You try to look after your physical health by eating well, sleeping well, exercising and enjoying yourself.

You mainly see yourself as being a valuable person in your own right. Don’t feel you have to earn the right to exist. You exist, therefore, you have the right to exist. If you cannot value and accept yourself as you, you may feel frightened that other people will reject you.

People who value and accept themselves can usually cope with life.

Why do some people remain mentally well and others don’t?
We can suffer mental distress when we don’t value and accept ourselves. This way of thinking can come from a childhood experience, or when we lost our job, or a when a relationship/friendship ended.

We then decided that we must be bad or unworthy, otherwise why did our family/employer/partner/friend treat us as they did. This feeling can make it very difficult for us to cope with the difficulties and disasters we encounter.

What is the value of Exercise?
Research shows that exercise is one of the most effective ways to beat stress and depression. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that exercise may be more effective than drugs in treating mild to moderate depression. In the study just thirty minutes of exercise a day significantly improved the moods of patients who had been suffering from depression for nine months. This doesn’t mean that you have to pound the treadmill for hours on end. A simple walk through your local park can be uplifting. What’s more, the effects of exercise on mood are immediate.

What about Food?
Research has found that by avoiding certain food stressors such as sugar, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate and saturated fats you can help improve your mood. Water, vegetables, fruit, oil rich fish, nuts and seeds, fibre and organic foods can also lift your spirits. Research shows that improving your diet can increase coping skills, improve confidence and help you to feel calm.

What about complementary therapies?
For some these also play a part in recovery. For more details click here.

What role is their for Friendship?
Friends are the overwhelming main source of support for people with mental health problems. Out of those surveyed 67% of their friends offered understanding and 71% showed concern. Just listening and talking to friends who are feeling down can make a huge difference. So make sure your devote time to maintaining your friendships both for their sake and your own.

But what if you live on your own, or don't feel you can talk to someone close to you? There are organisations who can provide a 'listening ear' such as Lifeline and the Samaritans. They can really help.

In the workplace
More than 91 million working days a year are lost to mental ill-health in the UK, yet work gives many people purpose, a sense of identity and can help maintain mental wellbeing. So can you promote mental health in your work place? As an employee, it helps to remind colleagues to take a break and look after themselves. People work more effectively and creatively when they are happy.

In a Confederation of British Industry (CBI) survey of over 800 companies, 98% of respondents said they thought that the mental health of employees should be a company concern. The large majority (81%) considered that mental health of staff should be part of company policy. Yet only one in ten companies has an official policy on mental health.

If you’re a manager why don’t you do a mental well-being audit of your workforce?

Tackling discrimination
According to research from the Mental Health Foundation 70% of people in the UK have experienced discrimination in response to their own or another’s mental distress. Over 60% of respondents to the study who had experienced mental distress also said that they could not tell people for fear of discrimination and stigma. Many false assumptions are made about people who suffer from a mental health problem, such as they aren’t reliable, they moan a lot and they’re dangerous.

It is vitally important that we all work to challenge the stigma around mental health. This can help with greater understanding about mental health, it can empower service users and it can reduce the discrimination that many people experience.

SHIFT Campaign
See me Campaign Scotland

Why not examine your own thoughts and perceptions of mental health?

People with mental health issues deserve your support and understanding, not prejudice.

Last revised 7 May 2007



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