World Mental Health Day 2020

Tips on how to maintain or improve your mental health

Hull and East Yorkshire Mind know that the current situation around coronavirus is worrying for many. During these unprecedented times it might feel more difficult than usual to take care of your mental health and wellbeing – but it’s important to remember that you are not alone and there are people available to help.

For World Mental Health Day 2020, we want to provide people in the local area with practical tools and tips to better manage, or improve their mental health. The tips include a variety of mental health topics such as stress, sleep, anxiety as well as working from home, and physical activity.

We have come up with 14 topics that we think can help you to stay well. By using our tips, you may start to feel better and be able to get the most out of life.

Connecting with other people

There is strong evidence that relationships with other people are a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world. Social relationships- whether that’s with friends, family, neighbours or work colleagues- are important for promoting wellbeing and positive mental health for everyone.

We know that people have been asked to stay at home, but this doesn’t mean you can’t connect with people. With this in mind, try and make a connection.

•Talk to someone on the phone – you could even use video call so you can see them.
•Give an old friend a call – why not reach out to some friends on social media.
•Create a group chat and play a quiz – you can do this on platforms such as Facebook.
•Have a games night and socialise with other people you live with.

Getting active

Regular physical activity is often linked with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. Exercise is really good for positive well-being. But it doesn’t need to be particularly intense for you to feel good – slower-paced activities, such as walking, can have the benefit of encouraging social interactions as well providing some level of exercise.

The government have stated that we are able to complete one form of exercise a day outdoors – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household but physical activity doesn’t have to be in the gym, and it doesn’t have to be outside. Why not try out one of the following ideas:

•Take part in an online fitness class. There are lots of home-workouts available online for free.
•Go for a walk or cycle.
•Tidy some rooms around your house.
•Do some gardening.

Take notice of the environement around you

Reminding yourself to ‘take notice’ can strengthen and broaden awareness. Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances your well-being and savouring ‘the moment’ can help to reaffirm your life priorities. Heightened awareness also enhances your self-understanding and allows you to make positive choices based on your own values and motivations. Take some time today to enjoy the moment and the environment around you.

Here are a few ideas:

•Do some gardening and really take notice of your garden – maybe make a plan for summer.
•Have a ‘clear the clutter’ day.
•Take a different route during your daily exercise outdoors.

Keep Learning

Continued learning through life enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction and a more active life. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the opportunity to engage in work or educational activities particularly helps to lift older people out of depression. The practice of setting goals, which is related to adult learning in particular, has been strongly associated with higher levels of positive mental health and wellbeing.

Why not learn something new? Here are a few ideas:

•Read the news or a book.
•Watch a new film or series.
•Do a crossword or Sudoku.
•Research something you’ve always wondered about.
•Learn a new language.

Giving to others

Participation in social and community life has attracted a lot of attention in the field of wellbeing research. Individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy. Research into actions for promoting happiness has shown that committing an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing. Even the smallest act of giving or kindness counts, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word.

Why not try one of the following:

• Give your friend or family member a compliment over text / phone / social media.
• Register to volunteer at a local charity (and start once things are back to normal).
• Make someone you live with a cuppa.
• Ask your children / people you live with to help with something around the house.

Talking to someone about your mental health

Many people feel more at ease opening up to friends or family other than professionals, but some find it easier to approach a professional first such as their doctor. The thing is, there is no right or wrong way. However, those closest to us can often be a valuable source of support.

When you feel ready to talk to someone these tips might help you start the conversation:

• Find a method of communication that feels right for you – this might be a conversation in person or you might find it easier to talk over the telephone or in a letter.
• Find a suitable time and place – there may not be a ‘good’ time but it can help if you’re somewhere quiet, comfortable and unlikely to be disturbed.
• Prepare what you want to say – for example through practice or making notes using phrases such as “I’ve not been feeling like myself lately” or “I’m finding it hard to cope at the moment” may provide a starting point for the conversation.
• Be honest and open – sometimes it can feel uncomfortable sharing something personal but explaining how your feelings are affecting your life may help others to understand.

Seeking support is the first step to recovery, remember it’s always okay to ask for help

Stress

We all know what it’s like to feel stressed, but it’s not easy to pin down exactly what causes our stress. Stress is usually triggered by things happening in our life which involve:
• being under lots of pressure
• facing big changes
• worrying about something
• not having much or any control over the outcome of a situation

We all experience stress differently in different situations. Sometimes you might be able to tell right away when you’re feeling under stress, but other times you might keep going without recognising the signs. There may be things in your life that you can’t control, but there are things you can do to manage day-to-day feelings of stress such as:

Find out what triggers your feelings of stress – you can then think about what you can change to manage them. You might be surprised to find out just how much you’re coping with at once.
• Talk to friends and family – sometimes just telling the people close to you how you’re feeling can make a big difference – and they might be able to help you out in other ways too.
• Use relaxation techniques – you may already know what helps you relax, like having a bath, listening to music or taking your dog for a walk. If you know that a certain activity helps you feel more relaxed, make sure you set aside time to do it.
• Sleep – sleep is important in managing stress. If you don’t get enough sleep, negative feelings are likely to be exaggerated and you might find you are more irritable and less confident.
• Give yourself a break – forgive yourself when you make a mistake, or don’t achieve something you hoped for. Try to remember that nobody’s perfect, and putting extra pressure on yourself doesn’t help.

Managing anxiety

Most people feel anxious at times. It’s particularly common to experience some anxiety while coping with stressful events or changes, especially if they could have a big impact on your life. Living with anxiety can be very difficult, but there are steps you can take that might help. Here are some suggestions for you to consider.

  • Talk to someone you trust – talking to someone you trust about what’s making you anxious could be a relief. It may be that just having someone listen to you and show they care can help in itself. If you aren’t able to open up to someone close to you, the Samaritans and Anxiety UK both run helplines that you can call to talk to someone.
  • Try to manage your worries – set aside a specific time to focus on your worries – so you can reassure yourself you haven’t forgotten to think about them. Some people find it helps to set a timer. Write down your worries and keep them in a particular place – for example, you could write them in a notebook, or on pieces of paper you put in an envelope or jar.
  • Keep a diary – it might help to make a note of what happens when you get anxious or have a panic attack. This could help you spot patterns in what triggers these experiences for you, or notice early signs that they are beginning to happen.

Sleep

There’s a close relationship between sleep and mental health. Living with a mental health problem can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health. Here are some of our tips:

  • Establish a routine – try to establish a regular sleeping pattern by going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day. Go to bed only when you feel tired enough to sleep. Then get up at your usual time. This may mean you will spend less time actually in bed, but more of the time in bed asleep.
  • Relax before you go to bed – do something calming such as listening to relaxing music, or having a bath.
  • Breathing exercises – in a comfortable position, try this: breathe into your belly (not your chest) then out through your nose, making your out-breath longer than your in-breath; repeat until you feel relaxed.

Working from home

We know that many of us are worrying about the current situation around coronavirus and how it might affect our lives.  It’s likely that we’ll be working from home for longer periods of time to help keep us all safe during the coronavirus outbreak. Therefore, it’s important we recognise how it may affect our mental health and ensure we are taking care of ourselves and our colleagues.  Here are 5 top tips on how to support your mental health and wellbeing when working remotely or from home:

  • Maintain a positive work/life balance – it’s easy to work longer hours and take fewer breaks when working from home. Why not put a reminder in your diary when you plan to finish working? You can also make sure you take at least a 30-minute lunch break. If you can, try to get some fresh air and go for a short walk.
  • Check in with colleagues regularly – working from home can be isolating; ensure you and your colleagues have regular check-ins virtually. Find an online tool that works for your team whether its Microsoft teams, a conference call facility like Skype or by phone.
  • Establish new ways of working – working from home may be a completely different scenario and will require consideration as to how you will deliver work. Why not create a structured plan to identify how you intend to complete tasks. Some of it might be trial and error so it is also important to think about how you will reflect on what’s working and what isn’t.
  • Take advantage of technology  – use Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype or other communication/collaborative working platforms to connect with colleagues and work together. It can also be good idea to use a range of technologies so you’re not always typing or looking at a screen – switch things up with a telephone call or video call so you can see someone face to face.
  • Vary your tasks – you may find it difficult to concentrate on specific tasks when working from home. If you are finding things hard it is important to let your manager know. If you are having a ‘mind blank’ move onto the next text and come back to it later.

Food and Mood

Knowing what foods we should and shouldn’t be eating can be really confusing, especially when it feels like the advice changes regularly. However, evidence suggests that as well as affecting our physical health, what we eat may also affect the way we feel.

Improving your diet may help to:
• improve your mood
• give you more energy
• help you think more clearly.

Here are our top tips:

  • Eat breakfast to get the day off to a good start.
  • Instead of eating a large lunch and dinner, try eating smaller portions spaced out more regularly throughout the day.
  • Avoid foods which make your blood sugar rise and fall rapidly, such as sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks, and alcohol.
  • Avoid too much caffeine – these are in things such as coffee, tea and energy drinks
  • Drink lots of water
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol – limit yourself and listen to the Drinkaware guidelines.

When should I get help?

Seeking help is often the first step towards getting and staying well, but it can be hard to know how to start or where to turn to. It’s common to feel unsure, and to wonder whether you should try to handle things on your own. But it’s always ok to ask for help – even if you’re not sure you are experiencing a specific mental health problem.

You might want to seek help if you’re:

• worrying more than usual
• finding it hard to enjoy your life
• having thoughts and feelings that are difficult to cope with, which have an impact on your day-to-day life
• interested to find more support or treatment.

Who can I talk to?

There are lots of options for support out there, although you might find some are more suitable for you, or more easily available. There’s no wrong order to try things in – different things work for different people at different times. You could try and talk to the following:

  • Your doctor (GP) – For many of us, our local GP practice is the first place we go when we’re unwell (known as primary care). Your doctor is there to help you with your mental health as well as your physical health.
  • A trained therapist – Trained therapists and counsellors provide a range of different therapies through the NHS, for which your doctor could refer you (known as secondary care). In some cases you might be able to contact them directly.
  • Friends, family, carers and neighbours – Sometimes it can help to talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling. See our other tab ‘How to talk to someone about my mental health’ for more information on how to start a conversation.
  • Charity and third sector organisations – There are many national and local charities which offer various support such as listening services and group support.

What if I am finding it difficult to seek help?

Seeking help isn’t always easy, especially when you’re not feeling well. It can take time and may not be straightforward. But it’s important to remember that you’re not alone, and that you deserve support.

Remember that a lot of what you do to look after yourself will be during your day-to-day life – not just healthcare appointments – so it’s always worth thinking about what helps you feel better in general.

If you’ve already explored all of your options, and you haven’t found the help you’re looking for yet, it can feel like you’ve tried everything and nothing works. Unfortunately finding the help you need can sometimes be really difficult, and can take time. Here are some of our tips:

  • Keep trying – don’t give up. If you’ve had bad experiences with the people and professionals you’ve spoken to so far, you could give them another chance – or try again with someone new.
  • Develop your coping techniques. Planning positive ways look after yourself while you’re on waiting lists can help you cope.
  • Talk to people who understand. Getting support and encouragement from people who’ve been in a similar situation can be really valuable, even if they can’t change what you’re going through.
  • Find an advocate. An advocate can help you express your views and wishes, and help you access the help and support you deserve.
  • Talk to Hull and East Yorkshire Mind. We’re here for you. Our Infoline can help you explore all your options for support near you. Call us 24/7 ON 01482 240133 for information or advise – you can also email us on info@heymind.org.uk

If you are struggling with your mental health, it’s important to remember that you are not alone and there are people available to help.

Here is a list of people who are available to support you during the current coronavirus situation:

Hull and East Yorkshire Mind

Our Information Service is open 24 hours per day, 7 days a week to support local people, their friends, family members or colleagues.

Are you, or someone close to you, struggling with mental health? If so and you don’t know what the next steps are to take, get in touch and we will signpost you to support within our organisation, or to further support in the community.

If you are struggling, remember that there are still people here to help. Our support is designed to give you the tools and techniques to recover and stay well. Our support groups usually run at locations all across the East Riding area, but currently due to Covid-19 our support is offered over the phone.

If you would like support please get in touch with us – we are here for you.

  • Telephone – 01482 240133 (24/7)
  • Email – info@heymind.org.uk
  • Facebook – You can message us on Facebook @MindHEY
  • Text – text 07520 633447.

NEW – We also have a freephone number so that you can call us with no charge from your network provider. You can call us FREE on 0800 1380990

Kooth - Online support for Children and Young People

Kooth offers free, safe and anonymous online wellbeing and mental health support for young people aged 11 to 18 – and it’s now available across the East Riding.

If you live in the East Riding of Yorkshire, you can sign up now for confidential support through a text-based conversation with a qualified counsellor. You can also join online forums and discussion boards with other young people, read articles written by young people and contribute your own article or short story.

Kooth also has fun and easy-to-use tools to enable you to track your moods – what makes you feel relaxed, happy, stressed or upset – and set personal goals.

Counsellors are available from 12noon to 10pm on week days and from 6pm to 10pm at weekends, every day of the year on a drop-in basis. Young people can access regular booked online counselling sessions as needed.

You can visit Kooth here

Samaritans

Samaritans

Samaritans is a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide. The Samaritans are here for you.  If you are experiencing emotional distress, or you are struggling and need support at this time you can call them night or day on 116 123.

Beecan - Coronavirus Community Support Hub: East Riding

The Coronavirus Community Support Hub has been launched as a positive response to the current Covid-19 situation. It offers a platform where communities can connect and share supportive and trusted information.

You can find out more here.

Looking after your mental health - Every Mind Matters

Having good mental health helps us relax more, achieve more and enjoy our lives more. With Every Mind Matters you can have expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing.

Every Mind Matters is the national platform for good mental health, from Public Health England. It aims to make it easier for everyone to look after their own wellbeing and improve their mental health, by providing a digital hub full of advice, tips and resources and a new online tool to help everyone create their own action plan.

Get Your Mind Plan
Answer 5 quick questions to get your free plan with tips to help you deal with stress and anxiety, improve your sleep, boost your mood and feel more in control. Click here to take the quiz.

Women's Aid

If something doesn’t feel right in your relationship, it probably isn’t. If your behaviour has changed because of how your partner treats you or your children, this can be the sign of an unhealthy or controlling relationship.

We know talking to someone else about your personal life can be hard, but getting in touch with us can be your first and most important step. Visit Women’s Aid online webchat here.

Call ER - Befriending Service

CallER Collective is a way for people in the East Riding of Yorkshire to reach out for support during this difficult time; be that for essentials such as food and medication or just a friendly chat.

When someone calls the phoneline to ask for support their call will be forwarded onto a CallER Volunteer in their area.

CallER Collective can be contacted on 01482 215929 (opening Hours: 8am – 10pm)

I'm in crisis now and I need urgent help

If you don’t feel you can keep yourself safe right now, seek immediate help:

  • Go to any Accident & Emergency (A&E) department.
  • Call 999 and ask for an ambulance to take you to A&E.
  • Ask someone else to call 999 for you or take you to A&E.

If you need urgent support but don’t want to go to A&E, you could:

  • Call Samaritans on freephone 116 123 – they’re always open and are there to listen
  • Contact your GP surgery and ask for an emergency appointment
  • Contact NHS 111 (England)
  • Contact your local crisis team on 01482 301701 (option 1)

NHS Urgent Mental Health 24/7 Helpline Locater

Click here to find your local NHS urgent mental health helpline (England only)