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Running for Mind

On Sunday 22 April, I took part in this year's London Marathon. My goal was to raise £1,000 for Mind, as well as to run 26.2 miles around one of my favourite cities.

I remember watching the London Marathon on the television as a child, full of admiration for the people taking part, dreaming that I might get to take part in it one day and, of course, looking out for familiar faces (famous and unknown) on the screen.

Despite those dreams, it was only in adulthood that I stared entering races. Initially, I took part in 5K races to raise money for charity. Gradually I built up to 10K races and, eventually, half marathons.

Each year I would enter the ballot for a London Marathon, taking my chances along with hundreds and thousands of hopeful entrants, and each year I received the 'sorry you haven't got a place' letter. That was, until October 2016, when the letter I had been hoping for arrived.... congratulations, it said, you're in!

I immediately decided that I would run for Mind. A dear friend of mine, Fog, had died in the summer of 2014 and Mind had been his family's chosen charity. That decision made, I set up a fundraising page, downloaded a training plan and hit the pavements.

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My training was going really well until the spring of 2017, when I picked up an unfortunate knee injury. The good news was that my knee hadn't suffered any structural damage, the bad news was that recovery times for injuries like mine were unpredictable. I deferred my London Marathon place and crossed my fingers that I would be back training in time for the 2018 London Marathon.

It was during the months that I couldn't run that I realised how much I relied on running to release the stresses and strains of everyday life. I was one of the lucky ones though, and by September 2017, I was able to start my training again. It was very strange to start with, I couldn't even run 5K. Slowly, but surely, the distance I could cover increased and I started to believe that I would make it around the marathon, even if I had to walk some of the way.

The winter of 2017/2018 wasn't great for those of us with marathon places, but I held fast to the dream of completing the London Marathon and stuck to my training plan despite the snow and rain.

April 2018 arrived, marathon day got closer, and the weather improved. The improvement was so great, that the 2018 London Marathon was the hottest to date.

I can honestly say that the London Marathon was the most wonderful experience. It exceeded all my expectations and I will admit to squealing with joy as I crossed Tower Bridge! Along the way I met the most incredible people, many of whom were running to raise money for charities close to their hearts. The sense of community I shared with the other Mind runners and the amazing Mind supporters helped to keep my spirits raised. I enjoyed every moment of the race, which is just as well as it took me 6 hours and 34 minutes to get to the finish line!

Thanks to my amazing family, friends and colleagues, not only did I achieve my ambition of completing the London Marathon, but I also smashed my fundraising target. So far I have raised over £3,000!

Dr Jennifer Unsworth

Placement at Springfield Mind

As a year-long placement student and volunteer at Springfield Mind, I have been given many opportunities to enhance my knowledge of mental health issues and understand what people go through on a day-to-day basis.

I have enjoyed every moment of the placement so far, by meeting lots of new people and to be a part of Springfield Mind’s services in delivering well-being. I have volunteered in the well-being hubs, the Green Minds allotment and in the office, and I am extremely grateful that I was given this opportunity to expand my knowledge into these different services.

Springfield Mind is a very positive organisation and looks to improve the well-being of service users and individuals in the community. With the activities that also take place, this makes it a fun environment to work in, and it gave me lots of occasions to be involved with the services.

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Meeting service users has been the best experience during my time at Springfield Mind, as I got to really understand their personal issues, and see things from their perspectives. I have also been given lots of training to help with communicating to service users and this has been helpful.

Staff and volunteers at Springfield Mind have also been wonderful to work with; everyone is very supportive and easy to talk to. I would recommend for others to volunteer here at Springfield Mind, as this has been the most exciting and valuable experience I have come across so far.

By volunteering at Springfield Mind I have realised what a difference this has made to my personal well-being, as well as others’ well-being. Overall, I also hope to continue volunteering at Springfield Mind once I finish the placement, and to continue assisting the different services that Springfield Mind have to offer.

Jagjit Purewal

Coping with Loss

A third year university student from Kenilworth, who lost her father at the age of 12, is now campaigning to help others cope with grief and bereavement.

 

Raveena Nandra has struggled to come to terms with the death of her father and wants to encourage others to talk about people who have passed.

The 22-year-old has teamed up with Fixers to make a film documenting the seven stages of grief to help young people who have struggled with losing a loved one.

 

 

'My father suddenly passed away aged 42 of a heart attack. It made me feel like my whole world had fallen apart.

'I was daddy's girl and I felt like I lost my best friend.

'I made little things up in my mind to make me believe he's still here. I felt I had to be strong for my mum and that I had to throw myself in to my education to make my dad proud.

'It was hard to talk about my dad.'

Raveena has recently started attending specialist counselling sessions to help talk about the loss of her father.

‘I have now realised that maybe I didn’t get the support that I needed to be able to grieve properly.

‘When I was younger I do wish we’d spoken about it more, however, it is such a painful topic to talk about. We were afraid to talk about my dad as a family. It’s important we allow ourselves to remember the person that we have lost.

‘Now it has hit me that I haven’t been able to grieve properly and now I need to seek help for myself.’

Raveena hopes to organise talks at schools, colleges and universities to discuss the ongoing healing process and ways to deal with bereavement.  

‘I hope by doing this project it will help others who have experienced loss. The more we can be open about our grief the better we will feel.’

 

Raveena is currently on placement at Springfield Mind.

Hear from others affected by this issue. Click to read their stories.

 

Mental Health Awareness Week

14th – 20th May

This year Mental Health Awareness Week is all about stress and how we cope with it.

At Springfield Mind we know that stress is a key factor in poor wellbeing. Making people feel valued and supported with good information and guidance can develop people’s ability to manage stress and improve wellbeing.

We are asking employers and employees to thing about addressing stress in the work place during Mental Health Awareness Week in 2018.

Is your workplace the biggest cause of stress in your life?

Employees:

Looking after your own mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical health. We spend about 90,000 hours of our life at work so it should not be a surprise that this has a big impact on our mental health, sometimes positive sometimes negative.

By improving your mental wellbeing you are more able to cope with pressure and stress in your life.

Here are some pointers to help you:

  • Figure out what are the causes and signs of stress

What is causing my stress? uncertainty, being overwhelmed, lack of control, being under pressure. The causes might be due to one big thing but more often its lots of small pressures.

How are you feeling? irritability, anxious, racing thoughts, no longer enjoying things you used to like, loss of humour, loneliness and overburdened can all suggest you are stressed.

How are you behaving? eating, smoking, drinking more than usual, restless, snapping at people, constant worry, procrastinating, unable to concentrate.

Physical symptoms? headaches, high blood pressure, teeth grinding, feeling exhausted, sleep problems, tight muscles.

  • What can you do about it

Identify what makes your feel stressed, quite often regular issues or one off events can trigger your feelings. Take a little bit of time out to think about anticipating these issues spending time planning and problem solving can go a long way to helping.

Time management can put you back in the driving seat. We all have a best time of the day when we can concentrate and be most productive, try and get the most challenging stuff done during these periods. Making a list is a great way of prioritising but make it small and achievable, things we don’t achieve just add more stress.

Keep yourself well, taking breaks and taking things slowly can increase your productivity. Let’s make time for our own fun and invest in enjoyable and relaxing activities that we and our families enjoy. Keep it healthy, there is a treasure chest of resilience waiting for you which will kill off those stressful feelings. Restricting our time on social media & emails, keeping fit, eating well and spending quality time with family and friends will surprise you with a generous reward.

  • Reach out for other support networks

Make time to talk to colleagues, friends and family about your mental wellbeing – encourage others to talk about their stresses and strains. By sharing our burdens we can support one another through challenging periods in our lives.

Springfield Mind has a vast number of tools to support you and your mental wellbeing. We offer a range of one to one sessions, peer support and walk in sessions at our hubs in Stratford, Leamington Spa and Warwick – give us a call 01789 298615.

Employers:

Is stress costing your business?

The Health and Safety Executive has some bad news for us all, in 2016 we lost 11.7 million days to stress in the workplace, one in three fit (read sick) notes issued by GP’s was for poor mental health and on average people signed off with stress are off for 23 days.

At Springfield Mind we have spent a lot of time working on solutions to help our community and businesses. Improving the mental wellbeing of employees returns excellent results for businesses reducing sick days, less staff turnover and improved employee morale. Essentially a mentally friendly workplace will result in improved performance for your business!

 Here are our top tips to get you on track:

  • It’s time to talk

Get mental health on the appraisal agenda and start a dialogue in team meetings. The more open we are and talk about our mental wellbeing and stress the more people are going to feel supported and start learning how to cope.

Request a time to talk toolkit from Springfield Mind, get some literature and materials out and about that promote talk!

Encourage employees who are struggling with their mental wellbeing to get support. Springfield Mind offers free support to individuals through a variety of projects, get in touch!

  • Skill up your workforce

Training your Managers on wellbeing lays the ground work for the culture of success you are working hard to create. Managers need to understand employee rights and responsibilities alongside how to manage a team to optimise wellbeing and provide employees with an emotional attachment to the workplace.

How many first aiders do you have in your business? Now ask yourself how many mental health first aiders do you have in your business? The truth is we are 100 times more likely to have to support someone in crisis with their mental health than we are to perform CPR.

Get your workforce mentally aware – get an understanding in the workplace about how you can support one another to better mental health and to combatting stress.

  • Look after your own wellbeing

Let’s make time for our own fun and invest in enjoyable and relaxing activities that we and our families enjoy. Keep it healthy and there will be a treasure chest of resilience waiting for you which will kill off those stressful feelings. Restricting our time on social media & emails, keeping fit, eating well and spending quality time with family and friends will surprise you with a generous reward.

  • Measure your success

Are you starting to see sickness levels dropping, is your staff retention and motivation increasing and most importantly is your business performance improving?

These are Springfield Minds strategies for a mentally resilient workforce. Why not contact me to arrange a wellbeing conversation and see how we can help support you with workplace training. We have a 98% satisfaction rating for our training and for every pound you spend with Springfield Mind is another pound going towards supporting improved mental wellbeing across Warwickshire. & Worcestershire.

Tel              01789 298615

Email           This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Web            springfieldmind.org.uk

Facebook     springfield mind

Twitter         @springfieldmind

Mental ill-health does not discriminate

Anyone can be affected at any time and it does not matter how old you are, what you look like, or how much money you have.

The latest figures estimate 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any one year, and Paul Thompson is one of them.

 

“My background was very comfortable,” says Paul.

“I had an excellent upbringing, a great education, from the outside looking in I was pretty successful.

“I graduated from great universities, reached the top of my career at a relatively early stage and materialistically I had all the toys, a brand new BMW, a suit for every day of the month and all the latest Apple devices. All materialistically good.

“However the wheels fell off in Summer 2015 when I was sectioned in a mental health hospital and diagnosed with clinical depression.

“I had been mentally unwell for probably five or six years and during that period became self-destructive and did a lot of things that I remain embarrassed by. I realise now these were coping mechanisms.

“Everything stopped, I couldn’t carry on and I made six attempts to end my life. Police found me living rough, unable to talk. I hadn’t eaten for days and I was sectioned for six months at a cost of £400 a day, £67,000 for my total stay.

“But there were great staff doing excellent work under pressure and I learned a lot during that very expensive stay in hospital. It gave me the space to recover.

“How did I get there? I now know I was ill-equipped for life, working too hard with no-one keeping an eye on me, physically unhealthy and stagnating.

“All of this could have been avoided if I had maintained my mental resilience.

“I was lucky; I have a very good GP who understands mental health and found other solutions rather than just medication. I also had a great social worker once I left hospital who was exceptionally supportive and focused on getting me back to being independent.”

Last year Paul attended a five-day Managing Depression course through the Recovery & Wellbeing Academy. The Academy, run by Coventry and Warwickshire Mind in partnership with other organisations, offers a wide range of courses that complement existing services provided by Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust and Coventry and Warwickshire Mind.

“This course gave me the tools to manage my diagnosis,” says Paul.

“I found the content empowering with constructive tools and learning on positively managing my condition.

“With great facilitation by our trainer, there was opportunity to discuss and share with others experiences and what works for them.

“I cannot speak highly enough about the value of courses like these. People can and do recover from mental health issues when given the right tools and skills.

“I feel confident now that I can spot early signs and manage episodes of depression and am hopeful that I will not need the excellent but expensive resources of a mental health hospital in future.

“I volunteer full-time for Springfield Mind and this has been a huge part of my recovery. Helping others with tools I learned on the course also helps improve my mental resilience.

“Subsequently, Mind has invested in me so I am qualified as a Mental Health First Aid trainer.

“Mental health is something we all have but it’s never permanent as we move throughout life through good times and difficult times.

“We all deserve help and support with our mental health and people do not need to suffer in silence.”

 

For more information about Coventry and Warwickshire Mind and the Recovery & Wellbeing Academy visit www.cwmind.org.uk