Mental Health #MOT

I was reading something the other day that said ‘if your knee kept hurting, you wouldn’t wait until it broke in half or until you couldn’t walk’ so why is mental health any different?

Basically the dialogue entailed having a ‘mental health MOT’ before anything severe could happen.

I see this with my youngest daughter. She was struggling for several months. I tried to speak to the school about my concerns, but they just didn’t think they were ‘bad enough’ to get support. The school basically told me she didn’t meet the threshold to get support within her school.

So, her anxiety kept getting worse and worse until she could no longer take it and had to be pulled out of school. It wasn’t until then that the school and local authorities such as the CAMHS NHS took her symptoms seriously. Now, as a psychologist I think the system shockingly failed my daughter. It has also failed many children and families who need support. I guess that is why seeking private psychologists are helpful. However, what if that private psychologist is your mother? I really took a step back and reflected. I took a breath. I trusted my intuition. And, I knew deep down that I had to change her environment. After all, I am not only her mother, but I am an expert too. I had more experience than that of her previous school and they were not validating any of my concerns.

My youngest then found a new supportive school. A school that supports her learning needs. A school that validates my concerns and understands that often females can mask certain symptoms such as ADHD, dyslexia and other neurodiverse conditions. It has been a great relief to me having the support of such a switched on school. We are lucky and blessed that this school is up to date with mental health and learning abilities of students. With this experience I have learned so much, we all have and continue to grow and learn. We take one day at a time. And, because of this experience I can share with other families and support them through their difficult times when they have not felt validated or supported by people they trusted.

This is where the mental health MOT comes to play.

Shouldn’t we all from time to time ‘check in’ to see how we are feeling? Maybe we feel fine all of the time (I remember those days), but as we get older life gets more difficult- especially if you have kids.

Shouldn’t we be teaching children how to recognise their feelings? healthy ways to manage feelings such as anxiety or feeling low? Why do we ignore these things in school? personally? in life?

I do understand that not everyone will have emotional intelligence or even be able to recognise different feelings within themself; however, what if you made an appointment with a therapist, psychologist or counsellor to have a mental health MOT?

Your mental health MOT would include: making sure you are happy with all aspects of your life, making sure you have a good work, life, family balance. Basically, a mental health MOT would be very similar to having your car MOT’d. It would make sure that you don’t end up getting a flat tire, or breaking down in the middle of a busy road (or life in this analogy) and so that you would continue to safely run.

I believe we need to apply this concept towards our mental health. Firstly, it is nice to talk. It is good to talk. It is healthy to talk. When we keep unwanted thoughts inside our mind, or ruminate, it can manifest into depression or anger. If people spoke more about anxiety and things that troubled them then perhaps more people would not suffer from severe mental health issues.

We are faced with so much pressure in life, school, work, social media, technology… and pressure we put on ourselves to keep up with the world… why don’t we start looking at things that can reduce these pressures? Things such as self-care, self-love and relaxing and meditating. And, most importantly scheduling a mental health MOT.
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Jealousy: Can it be a good thing?

When people think about jealousy, it’s natural to assume that it’s only ever a bad thing. After all, we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to others and should instead be happy with ourselves. If only this could happen so easily.

Thanks to social media, it has become increasingly difficult not to compare ourselves to others. But it’s easy to forget that people only put on social media what they choose to. It’s therefore not a realistic representation of their lives.

I have been thinking recently about how jealousy has the potential to be used as a positive; as a way of highlighting what you really want in life and in turn enabling someone to make the changes in their life in order to achieve it.

It can be so easy to just carry on with the way life is because it’s easier than trying something different and possibly failing. But what if you see someone else achieve their goals? Can it not make you feel as though you can also achieve yours?

Not all type of jealousy is so easily rectified though. If you’re jealous of the way someone looks or how much money they earn in comparison to you, this can’t always be changed. Therefore the way of combatting this jealousy is learning how to be happy with what you have in life, and unfortunately that’s not always as easy.

But turning jealousy into a positive can help create life goals and positive ways of changing. Jealously can perhaps be the mirror you hold up to your own life and realise what you want to change in order to be truly happy.

*Sarah Keeping is currently undertaking a Counselling Skills course in London and is looking to change her professional subject area to Counselling Psychology. Previous qualifications are in Investigative Psychology, Psychology, Applied Criminology, and Criminology and Sociology. Follow Sarah on twitter at @SKeeping_Psych

Bullying in the British Culture: Learn to stand up for yourself and your friends

I believe there is an underlying manner of bullying within the United Kingdom.  Through my experience, many Brits do not express themselves- they can either be quite passive-aggressive or just repress many emotions. I think many of them especially within the school systems are too scared to stand up and teach that bullying is not acceptable. In America, even though bullying does happen everywhere around the world we have a zero tolerance to bullying and ill-behavior.  Let’s see what Georgia Farrugia The Brighton Mental Health and Wellness Centre’s April’s Guest Blogger has to say about bulling. It’s always great to get new perspectives on things. After all, we only know what we experience in our lives.
LIKEABILITY
So here is the thing, we all want to be liked right. We compare ourselves to our neighbour in class, our friend or colleague – and most of all, the person we wish we could be like. See God made us unique. Every single one of us has a purpose, and every single one of us has a passion. I will start this with, it is OK TO BE YOU – You are perfect as you are. 
BULLYING
I know what this is like, to be left out, to not fit in. I went through it, with a total of five school moves and hating who I was and questioning why I was going through it.
However, look back at what I just said– that every single one of us has a purpose, and every single one of us has a passion. Even when I was going through some of my HARDEST times imaginable, I knew there must have been a reason. To help people possibly? And the passion – it is the very reason I have written this blog for you. To tell you that with your own inner strength you WILL get through the tournament. And so it is ok to not fit in the box of those who are doing the bullying – because you were put on this earth to create your own box. 
 
School bullying (or can be applied to any one aspect of life): SCHOOL IS NOT YOUR LIFE. The same way that your gender, religion, hair style or family background does not entirely define you, school is not your life (or your job/bullying in work). It may be what you know up to now or take up the majority of your time, but the same as when you were 7 you didn’t know what you’d achieve or how great you’d be at 17, great times will come and there will be triumphs that you just don’t know yet. 
 
You are going to reach milestones and your experience of life is going to evolve and once this period in your life has passed, you will have memories, but school itself, or the adversity you are facing, will not define you and eventually those memories will become the distant past. You are free to choose how to live your life and WHO YOU WANT TO BE. Make that decision count, not what the tormentors say. 
 
One day, life will revolve around new relationships and jobs, college or university, there may be friends, holidays or religion or a faith that may come into your life – what I am showing you is that your life will have other meaning and the nugget in this is, do not let your current or past experiences define who you are, how you believe in yourself or who you will become. 
 

It is that the hardest times in our lives that will make us the strongest people and enable us to achieve our best. I wish you the best. 

Would you like to get in touch with Georgia? Tweet her here: @mcrgeorgia https://twitter.com/mcrgeorgia

Have you ever been bullied? Do you need help establishing stronger boundaries within your own relationships? Please get in touch with the centre today! www.brightonwellnesscentre.co.uk.