It’s Mental Health Awareness Week!

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

This awareness week was initiated nearly twenty years ago by the Mental Health Foundation to raise awareness of mental health in general and as an issue for everyone.

With mental illness figures increasing, (over 43.3% of people over 16 believe they have experienced a mental health issue - many without diagnosis*), a higher incidence in blue light services, and the uncertainty and anxiety around Covid-19, it is even more reason to look after yourself and your colleagues.

The theme for this year, 2020, is 'kindness'. Kindness to yourself and kindness to each other. 

It has never been a better time to inspire action to promote the message of good mental health for all. Using the theme of kindness throughout the week we will be refreshing your knowledge, providing some ideas as to what you can do, outlining some random acts of kindness and reassuring you of the places you can go if you need help.  We know that one size does not fit all, so will be suggesting different thoughts and concepts so that hopefully hoping one resonates with you.

Today we want to alert you to some basic tips and tools for looking after your mental health starting with the concept of Being Kind To Yourself, recommend a video especially produced for the ambulance service about mental health, and suggest you join a Health & Wellbeing video workshop on Thursday, all or any of which might offer you some comfort, guidance or support.

The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives has produced the following film capturing the mental health experiences of some ambulance staff encouraging people to speak out and to understand others have often felt the same. The film was produced before the onset of Covid-19, so social distancing measures did not apply - but the issues addressed are perhaps even more relevant now. 

Be kind to yourself - tips and tools

  • Ensure you are eating and drinking well: balanced, nutritional meals at home and work, plenty of fluids, all at regular intervals if possible
  • Exercise regularly. Even when you are exhausted try to stretch, move your body in whichever way you need to release the tension of the day
  • Get plenty of sleep wherever you are and whenever you can: clearly in your own bed for 6-8 hours is best
  • Keep connected: keep talking with managers, colleagues and family, access supervisory and peer support routinely, avoid isolation and time to ruminate
  • Avoid continual media messages – too much information can cause overload and agitation
  • Use social media (sensibly!) to keep connected too, but also switch off sometimes for much needed ‘me’ time.
  • Avoid ‘unhelpful’ coping strategies: alcohol, smoking, or other drug use can worsen your mental and physical wellbeing. Think about strategies that have worked for you at other times
  • Find relaxing/calming techniques that work for you: a long hot bath, mindfulness, music and so on. And use them whenever you can: 5 minutes distraction is better than nothing. Neuroscience studies show that meditating can help us not only calm our own anxiety, but also act more altruistically toward other people – vital for our own and others’ wellbeing
  • Keep doing new things if you can: use any down time to learn a new language, write that book, complete a hobby. Lose yourself in your interests
  • Keep yourself informed of accurate information from legitimate sources; be careful of false news
  • Reach out to others; ensure everyone around you knows about all the support your managers, teams, colleagues and EEAST can provide, and who to go to to get that support
  • Remember to acknowledge each other in these tough times: you will feel better for complimenting or supporting your team-mate, and will feel better yourself if others recognise the contribution you are making
  • Acknowledge your feelings; check in with yourself regularly. Ask ‘am I ok?’.  Learn to be aware of yourself, your triggers, your own needs so that you are the best judge of you. Most importantly, know when to stop and when to get help – the sooner you access support the sooner you will feel better again
  • Remember that we cannot change the current situation: we can only change ourselves


Please be kind to yourself and those around you.

 

If you want to know more about any of these topics please contact wellbeing@eastamb.nhs.uk 

 

*For further information and some basic facts about global mental health issues see: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/fundamental-facts-about-mental-health-2016.pdf

Published 18th May 2020

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