Thursday 10 October marks World Mental Health Day 2019. Joanne Sale, Senior Lecturer, Mental Health Pre-registration Course Co-ordinator, offers some advice on how to look after your mental health.
Joanne says: “Everyone has mental health but we don’t deal or manage it the same way. It is important to find your own way with the support of others. For those of you experiencing mental health difficulties, get help now through your local mental wellbeing service (you can get this from the NHS website or speak to your GP).
“The University also offers mental health support to students along with a counselling service. For long term wellbeing, there are many charities who are now promoting the five ways to wellbeing such as Time to Change. I particularly like these top tips from thinktwice.”
It can feel embarrassing and exposing to talk about your thoughts and feelings, especially if they’re disturbing. Don’t laugh or treat it like a joke. However strange it might seem to you, remember it’s real to them.
You don’t have to have all the answers – just listening can make a big difference. Try and show that you’re taking on board what they’re saying. You can do this by reflecting – that is, saying something simple like “that sounds really difficult”. You could also say something like “thanks for telling me”, to show that you appreciate having the conversation.
We worry about prying when it comes to others’ mental health, but it’s better to ask questions. It can help them to get things off their chest, and by keeping the conversation going it shows that you care.
Some of the questions you might ask:
“What does it feel like?”
“What kind of thoughts are you having?”
“How can I help?"
It’s human nature to want to fix things, but expecting things to change right away isn’t helpful. It’s not your job to make their mental health problem go away – it’s often more helpful just to listen, ask open questions and do things you’d normally do together.
You might find it helpful to learn a bit more about what they’re going through. If they mention a specific diagnosis, you could learn more about it and read personal stories by people who have experienced similar things.
You might want to learn about the professional help that’s available to them and suggest that they explore those options. Mind have a handy guide on seeking help for a mental health problem, and Rethink Mental Illness have advice on what to do in a crisis.
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An initiative offering key life sessions to people who have struggled, or are struggling with, substance abuse has been recognised in the University of Bedfordshire’s Vice Chancellor’s Student Experience Awards 2020.
This year, the University of Bedfordshire’s annual Sports Awards were celebrated virtually as staff and students came together online.
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