Mental Health

Inside out

Lessons to learn from Inside Out

Lessons to learn from Inside Out 1280 720 Alisha Gibbons

Disney has been entertaining us for generations with its family-friendly animations that people of all ages can enjoy. Many of its films pull on our heart-strings and teach us important messages but one film at the top of that list is their 2015 animated, instant classic, Inside Out. 

Inside Out follows the story of a young girl, Riley and her parents as they move away from their hometown due to the fathers work. They move to a new city, move into a new house and Riley has to go to a new school. Everything about Riley’s life is changing and the film is all about how she copes with these changes. While Riley is the main character, the real stars of the film are her emotions, Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust. These emotions have been characterised in Riley’s mind and we follow them as they try to help Riley and control her emotions along the way. 

While the film on the surface is a fun, funny film for everyone to enjoy, if you look deeper into the film’s messages there’s a lot we can learn from Inside Out about mental health. In fact, many mental health professions use Inside Out as a tool during their therapy sessions with mental health patients of varying disorders. This is not just within children’s mental health services but adults too. It is a brilliant example of the wider media starting to inform us about mental health in a positive way and has lessons that we all need to be reminded of sometimes.

It is ok to feel sadness

One of the most important lessons to learn from Inside Out is that it is ok to feel sadness sometimes. Sadness is an emotion with a lot of stigma and negativity around it, to the point where many of us have probably wondered why we have it. This is reflected at the beginning of the movie when Joy literally states “This is sadness…I’m not actually sure what she does.”

Much of the time people decide to bottle up their sadness, not let anyone show how they are truly feeling. It may be that we sometimes think that we aren’t allowed to be sad as that is what society constantly teaches us. Joy visually represents this motion by drawing a circle around Sadness, telling her to not leave the circle and to stay suppressed in Riley’s mind. While it may seem easier at times to bottle up our sadness and put on a positive front for people to see, what we are actually doing is neglecting natural feelings which can only lead to more problems and outbursts in the future. 

Sadness is a natural human emotion, it allows us to feel empathy, nostalgia and is a coping mechanism for many situations in life. We are allowed to feel sad when big events happen in our life, such as Riley. She has moved to a completely different city, left her old friends and her old school and she feels as if she has to start all over again, so of course, she is probably feeling a little, if not a lot sad. At one point Sadness understands this saying “I should drive now right?” In reference to the fact she should take control of Riley’s emotions as this is a sad time for Riley, however, Joy stops her, once again suppressing the sadness. 

Sadness can actually help us get through difficult situations such as a big move, or losing a loved one, and it can also show other people that we are struggling and need help. At the end of the film, Riley is allowed to feel sadness and this is ultimately what reunites her with her parents, they can see that she’s struggling with the transition and know that she needs their support. Showing sadness does not make you weak, it can be a sign you need help or a coping mechanism when going through a challenging time.

Learn to balance our emotions

Many mental health issues stem from a lack of balance over our emotions, and a lot of the time letting ourselves be over-controlled by one of them in particular. In this way, the characters featured in Inside Out could all represent a different mental illness. Sadness is Depression, Fear is Anxiety, Disgust is OCD, Joy is Manic Behavior and Anger is violence issues. While all these emotions help us in some way, too much of any could result in a diagnosable mental illness. At the film’s resolution, Riley’s headquarters has an upgrade in which all five emotions get their own controls and can work together simultaneously to help her, this suggests that we need to let ourselves feel different emotions at different times and that our emotions working together is the best resolution and aim of recovery.

True happiness

It is a common belief that to feel true happiness is all about joy, positivity and excitement. The character Joy represents this very well in the film. She is responsible for making sure Riley is happy all the time and only allows RIley to have happy memories. Joy often takes control and leadership over all of Riley’s other emotions and very rarely lets them have their turn. Every situation Riley has had through her life Joy finds a way to put a positive spin on it, not allowing Riley to feel anything but happy all her life.  

This is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s good to find the positives in life, look on the bright side and try to find the good in every situation, but that is not to say that we can’t find happiness while also feeling the emotions. For example, we may go through a hard time in our lives, which are sad to look back on but ultimately we are happy that we got through it. As human beings, we need to experience negative emotions such as sadness and fear in order to really appreciate the moments that make us truly happy. 

For example, toward the end Joy and Sadness return to headquarters where Riley’s emotions are controlled. Before this, Riley has been left for a couple of days only feeling anger, disgust and fear towards her new life and her parents, which has led her to the irrational decision to run away back to her hometown leaving her parents behind. It is only when she allows herself to feel sadness, and let sadness take control that she decides against her plan. She returns home, is reunited with her parents which allows her to feel a deeper sense of happiness and comfort from her family, even though she is still feeling sad about her situation, she can feel happy that she has a loving family to help her get through it.

The film teaches us that our emotions can work together and help us get through tough times in order to find a deeper form of true happiness. 

Artificial happiness

More people than you think will be guilty of doing this, being happy on the outside even when on this inside they are anything but. Feelings such as Sadness, Fear and Anger are seen by society as negative emotions, and ones that we should suppress and hide. We want people to see us in a good light and so only let ‘positive’ emotions such as joy and excitement show. This may be known as Artificial happiness, we pretend to be happy for the sake of others. 

We don’t know what people are going through in their lives and behind closed doors, they could be the happiest people we know but on the inside, they feel alone and neglected. In society we need to normalise that it’s ok not to be ok, start to talk more openly about our emotions and not judge people for not being positive all the time. 

Opens mental health discussions to children

Inside Out being a film aimed at children is a brilliant tool in helping children of all ages start to talk about their feelings and emotions. In fact, many mental health professionals now use this film as a tool in starting these conversations. Asking questions such as; Which character are you feeling like today? Do you have any core memories you would like to tell me? If you could talk to one of the characters which would it be and what would you tell them?

Even if they have not developed the language to fully explain their emotions through the use of the characters in Inside Out it will help us to better understand what a child may be mentally going through and in turn help us find ways to best support them, be that professional or family based.

Recovery from a mental health disorder

What does it really mean to be recovered from a mental health disorder? For many people even though they are considered recovered they may feel that in some ways they still have hints of their illness, but the way they deal with these little triggers are now more effective than their disorder so they can deal with them themselves in a controlled manner. For some people, a life fully free from their mental disorder may not be possible, but through learning to balance their emotions, control their feelings and through coping mechanisms can still live a relatively normal lifestyle.

The film’s ending isn’t the typical ‘Happily Ever After’ as all the characters’ issues have not been resolved. However, what the ending of the film may represent well is the happy ending for many people in recovery from a mental disorder. Riley’s headquarters gets an upgrade and all of her emotions now have equal and balanced control. She has found the correct balance of her emotions and ways to deal with situations that may arise in the future. While on some days she may feel one emotion more than another, she can now let her emotions work together which will be beneficial to Riley. 

Overall while Inside Out is an animated film aimed at children, looking deeper into the messages of the film there is something there for us all to learn and to open up the conversation about mental health.

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Understanding Mental Health

Understanding mental health

Understanding mental health 1200 800 Team Mindsum
Last updated: 25 March 2021

What is mental health?

The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

For children and young people, this means that they are able to successfully reach their developmental and emotional milestones, learn necessary social skills and can function well at home, at school and in their communities.

What is good mental health?

Having good mental health is much more than simply not dealing with any mental health difficulties. It means that the child or young person is able to think, feel, react and behave in ways that they want and need to in their daily life. Despite having some bad days, which is quite normal for everyone, this does not affect their ability to function normally.

For example, Farah lives a well-balanced life where she is able to go to school, socialise with friends and enjoy her time at home with family members. On most days she feels quite happy and looks forward to her day. Sometimes she does feel sad, especially when she has small fallouts with friends. But this never lasts for long, and she is able to feel better shortly after.

What is poor mental health?

When a child or young person is struggling with their mental health it means that they are having some challenges to think, feel, react and/or behave in the ways that they want and need to. This can make it difficult for them to live their life to the fullest, or as they normally would.

For example, Hayden has been having some trouble to concentrate at school. He often feels worried and fearful and is pre-occupied with thinking about ways to avoid the things that make him feel fearful. He used to enjoy meeting up with friends after school but has now started to make excuses just to avoid going. Hayden has been struggling with this on more days than not.

Where to get treatment or support?

If your loved one or yourself is struggling with poor mental health, it is a good idea to find support as soon as you can. You might:

  • Tell your parent/carer

  • Talk to your GP

  • Talk to your school counsellor

  • Talk to a mental health professional

  • Access available helplines (e.g. Childline, Samaritans, Shout)

  • Access self-help resources (e.g. books, wellness apps)

  • Practice self-care (e.g. exercising, taking time off, social media break, spending time in nature)

Common myths about mental health

Bad parenting causes mental illnesses”

Mental illness can develop due to a combination of environmental and genetic factors. For this reason, it is not correct to say that bad parenting causes mental illness. Parent behaviour can influence the development of mental illness, but this is not always the case for all children and young people with a mental illness.

Children can’t have a mental illness like depression, those are adult problems

Children can also suffer from depression, although not in the same way as adults. The signs of depression can be less obvious in children. It is important to understand what depression can look like in children, so that you can watch out for signs that they might be struggling.

Children will eventually grow out of it”

Mental illness can start early in childhood and can continue on to adulthood. It is not always the case that the child will grow out of it and it should never be assumed that every child will do so. Early treatment is important to ensure that children can recover successfully and will less likely continue to suffer in adulthood.

Useful Resources 

World Health Organization

You can find useful information and reports about mental health on the World Health Organization website. Click here to access the link.

NHS

You can find an exhaustive list of mental health charities and helplines available on the NHS website. Click here to access the link.

Myths about children’s mental health

To read our blog post on myths about children’s mental health, you can click here to access the link.

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Myths about children mental health

Myths about children’s mental health

Myths about children’s mental health 1351 971 Alisha Gibbons

Children’s mental health is something that is often forgotten, many people not realizing that children are just as likely to suffer from a mental illness as a fully grown adult. Children are developing and changing everyday as they grow into adolescence, so it may be that any changes in behaviour are overlooked as parents simply do not know how the signs of mental illness will appear in a child. 

In addition to this, stigma surrounding mental health is still prevalent, meaning that many children and young people choose to hide their feelings and issues as they believe it to be easier and do not want those around them to think less of them. In a similar way, due to this stigma parents may also dismiss their child’s behaviours and fear getting a diagnosis of a mental health illness as they don’t want their child to be labelled. 

Much of the stigma around children’s mental health stems from myths that are passed around in society, these myths need to be addressed as then maybe children’s mental health will become normalised. It has been found that the first onset of any mental health condition occurs within the first 14 years of a child’s life, and this is why it is important to diagnose and treat their illness while they are young, so they have the best chance of recovering and living a full life free from mental illness.

The myths around children’s mental health will be addressed in this blog post, we all need to work together to dismiss these myths and stop the stigma for good. 

Bad Parenting Causes Mental Illness
People may believe that if parents raise the child with lots of love and affection then they will never struggle with a mental illness, and then on the other hand, a child that is brought up with neglect or lack of discipline will have mental health issues in the present or future. But mental health is not simple as this, while a child’s environment growing up is a factor in determining an individual’s mental health it is not the only one. 

Mental health disorders occur due to a complex combination of genetics, biological and environmental factors and for many disorders, the exact cause can not be determined. While upbringing can contribute to the development of a mental health disorder it may not be the sole cause. Anyone can suffer from a mental health condition, no matter their gender, ethnicity, or background and so it would be wrong to blame the parents if a child does get diagnosed. 

Mental Illness Is A Sign Of Weakness
Being weak minded has no correlation to the development of a mental illness, nor does how mentally strong someone is mean they will never suffer from one. 

Mental illnesses make everyday activities and routines harder, for children this could include, socializing, attending school, keeping up with hobbies, exercising and completing homework. The fact that children with a mental illness still attempt to do these things while they are struggling, shows that they are very mentally strong. To go about day to day living with a mental illness while still trying to look after yourself and work on your recovery takes a lot of mental strength, and many describe individuals who are working to improve their mental health as being some of the strongest people they have met.

No child should have to deal with their mental illness alone, they need support and advice from those around them such as their parents, family, friends and trained professionals. 

Children Are Too Young To Have Mental Health Problems
Anyone can suffer with their mental health at any age. The only difference between adults and children is that they may show different signs or symptoms for the same mental illness. In addition to this children may have not yet developed the right language to explain to others how they are feeling, so cannot express the fact they are struggling. If you notice any significant negative changes in your child’s mood, sleeping pattern, eating habits, hobbies or social life then they could be suffering with their mental health. It is important to try and talk to them in a non-judgemental way about this, simply asking how they are feeling and how you can help.

Any changes you do notice remember to note them down and communicate them to a professional, this way your child will be diagnosed more accurately. 

Children Will Grow Out Of It Eventually
Mental health disorders are very unlikely to go away on their own, and just like any medical condition if left untreated then they will only get worse. Children and young adults are always developing, which makes it easy to mistake changes in mood or behaviour as just a phase or just part of growing up. However, just like with adults, if these changes are occuring over a prolonged period of time and it is affecting the child’s daily life in a negative manner, or if they act in a dangerous way towards themselves or another, they should be seen by a professional to get the help they need. 

With the correct diagnosis, treatment and support children are able to recover from most of the common mental illnesses. Early detection of a mental illness means that the treatment is likely to be more successful as children and young people’s brains are more responsive to change.

Nothing You Can Do To Help A Mentally Ill Child
Having a child with any kind of illness, including a mental illness can be difficult for a parent or guardian. There are lots you have to learn, treatment plans to implement and recovery for the child will not always be linear. This can leave caregivers feeling exhausted and helpless at these difficult times. 

This is exactly the reason that it is important to seek help from a mental health professional, parents won’t initially know how to help their child with their mental illness, but a professional will. They can work alongside the parents, giving them techniques and ways to best support their child. 

Medicine Will Sort Everything Out
While medication can help a child with their mental health it is not the only option and sometimes other ways of treating the mental illness is preferred when treating a child. Medicine may be part of the treatment plan, however, talking therapies with the child and family unit is strongly advised. This will help the child with coping strategies and environmental stressors while also building stronger relationships and addressing problems head on through thorough discussion. 

Different forms of treatment will work for different people, it is important to find what works for you and what you feel comfortable with. 

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Work from home blog

Looking after your mental health when working from home

Looking after your mental health when working from home 1384 797 Alisha Gibbons

Since March last year, many people have been working from home, maybe for the first time, and this is showing no sign of changing anytime soon. Some people may never return to working in an office full time and it is easy to get into bad habits such as staying in pyjamas all day and missing out on the physical activity. Additionally, people may find it difficult to separate their work and home life and their mental health is suffering because of this.

The best work comes when we are healthy, happy and well rested. There are a few things we can do to make our workspace at home more comfortable, ourselves more relaxed and our work better quality.

Routine

Giving yourself a routine to follow will improve your productivity, your mood and allow you to set boundaries between your work and home life. Try to set yourself a similar routine to that which you have when working from the office. Wake up at the same time, have a good and healthy breakfast and get changed ready for work. Have regular breaks throughout the day and set aside time for your lunch break. Then once your working day has finished shut down your laptop and do whatever relaxes you. Having a routine for your working day with regular breaks and a set finish time will allow you to stay productive throughout the day and allow you to be able to ‘switch off’ when you finish.

Furthermore, scheduling breaks into your working day can be very beneficial, especially if you are staring at a computer all day. Take your mind off work and focus on something else for a while, go for a walk, do a short at home work out, read a bit of your book or watch daytime television. These breaks will make you more proactive when you return to work and stop you feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

Dedicated Workspace

To further set boundaries between your work and personal life make sure you have a dedicated workspace, this physically keeps your two spaces separate making it easier to relax when you are in your home space and be productive when you are in your workspace. Before you start work make sure you have everything you need, this way you are not constantly running around your house looking for things. This includes laptops, notebooks, pens, pencils and chargers, take them all to your workspace and so you don’t need to leave unless for your breaks or when you have finished the day. This will also stop you from getting distracted from things happening around your home, for example, if you are trying to find something like a pen or piece of paper in your living room you may start to do other things such as cleaning, start talking to someone you live with or watching something on the tv. Having everything you need in your dedicated workspace means you have fewer reasons to leave it and so less chance of being sidetracked.

Furthermore, a tidy workspace is always better for productivity levels, so make sure to declutter the area you have decided to work in before you start. Studies have found that clutter can raise the level of cortisol, a hormone related to stress, in your body which if prolonged over a period of time may lead to more serious issues such as anxiety, depression, headaches and sleep disruption. Keeping your workspace clean, tidy and separate from the areas you relax in will impact both you more and your quality of work drastically.

Light Room

Working in a light area is also good for our minds. Sunlight releases the hormone serotonin, which helps us to feel calm and focussed, while also boosting our mood and reducing any feelings of anxiety. Choose the lightest room in your house to set up your home office and keep the windows open during your working day. You can also increase the amount of light in the room by using mirrors to reflect the light around. If you don’t have access to this amount of sunlight in your home, make sure you take regular breaks and go for a walk or sit in your garden, the sunlight and fresh air will have a positive effect on yourself and the work you produce when you return to your desk.

Keep Social

Many people’s moods are lifted after having social contact of some sort, in normal circumstances we spend a lot of time at work and have around 80-90% of our social interactions there. While in lockdown it is easy to start to feel lonely and isolated, especially when working at home as the social side of work is taken away, and you may now only talk to your co-workers now through emails.

If you are a person who thrives off social interaction make it a priority of yours to still get some of some kind, while this is hard in lockdown and we need to do so in a socially distanced and safe way, if it improves your mental health and your mood, find ways to achieve this. Meet a friend in a park for a walk, schedule a facetime call with your close friends or family, and check in on the people you care about. This time is hard for everyone, we need to be there for each other and do what makes us happy.

Exercise

It is well known that exercise and moving our body improves our mood. Multiple studies have found that exercise reduces feelings of anxiety and stress, helps us both mentally and physically and releases mood-boosting endorphins.

For some people, their commute is the main part of their exercise, especially if you walk or cycle to work. Now however the commute is to another room in the house and you miss out on any physical activity. To make up for this why not go for a walk after work, join the gym (if it’s open in your area) or do a home workout video/zoom class. Any activity like this will keep you physically and mentally healthy, improve your mood and make us more productive.

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New year and mental health

New year resolutions for your mental health

New year resolutions for your mental health 1221 754 Team Mindsum

New year is the perfect time for a fresh start, to make new goals and for self-improvement. People like to make resolutions and targets for themselves to achieve in the year ahead, however more often these not these resolutions are quickly forgotten about a few months in. This is because people make unrealistic goals for themselves, they want to achieve it in too short a time frame and so when they have not achieved it in a couple of weeks, they get bored and give up. People in a way set themselves up for failure.

This year why not focus on a few small realistic goals that you can easily fit into your lifestyle, ones that will help boost your mood and in turn improve your mental health. We need to look after ourselves and our mind and small changes suited to us as individuals can have many positive effects.

Regular Exercise

Many people vow at the start of the year to join a gym, to go 7 times a week and sign up to 3 new fitness classes. This is a clear example of an unrealistic goal for many people, especially if you’re going from doing zero exercise to an excessive amount. Instead, try to add small amounts of exercise into your routine wherever you can. You could join a gym and ease yourself into going a couple of times a week, take part in an online workout from the comfort of your own home, start running as a hobby (the couch to 5k app is really good for this) or even just go for a walk in the evening. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy and that works for you, this way it will be much easier to stick to. 

A Healthy Balanced Diet

This doesn’t mean starting a new strict food plan, or tracking and counting your calories, as for some people that simply isn’t a healthy way to eat. Instead make it a goal of yours to nourish your body with lots of different nutrients, vitamins, healthy fats and proteins. Educate yourself on the benefits of eating certain foods, for example, it has been found that foods that contain folic acid and omega-3 can lower your stress levels and improve your overall mood. Find new recipes you are excited about trying and really enjoy the process of cooking a healthy balanced meal. Do not restrict your eating, listen to your body and nourish it with the food it needs.

Get Enough Sleep

In our modern lives, it can be very hard to get the required level of good quality sleep. We lead busy lives, have demanding jobs, childcare responsibilities, technology distracting us, a social life and more often than not we sacrifice sleep for our other commitments. The average person needs around 8 hours of sleep per night, this will improve our mood the following day, make us more alert and reduce our irritability. We can achieve a healthier sleeping routine through a few ways, firstly, set yourself a time to go to sleep and one to wake up at each morning and stick to it, your body will get used to this routine and so the quality of your sleep will be much better. Try to avoid napping throughout that day, this will allow your body to become naturally tired by the evening and help you drift off easily. Try to avoid drinking caffeine such as tea and coffee in the evening, caffeine makes you more alert making it harder to sleep and lastly an obvious but often forgotten tip, put down your phone or any technology which involves you staring at a screen before bed, the light from the screen inhibits us feeling tired and affects the quality of our sleep.  All of these changes will help you sleep better and for the right amount of time.

Practice Self Care

It is very easy to prioritise other people’s needs, and in the process neglect your own. This may be always doing things for other peoples benefit instead of your own, or doing things as you know it will please others even though you actually do not want to, such as attending an event that you actually don’t want to or helping someone with their tasks at the expense of you doing the things you need to do. While of course, it is good to help others, and look after those we care about, after a while it can take a toll on your own mental health. Make a promise to take some time for yourself and do things that will make you relaxed and happy. Everyone’s idea of ‘self-care’ is different, for some it may be a long bath and a face mask, for others it may be meditation or cooking and for someone else, it may be ticking off jobs on their to-do list. Whatever it may be for you, set time aside in the week/day for yourself, this will improve your overall mood, give you something to look forward to and help you to recharge.

Journal/Diary

This is a good way to get all your thoughts down on paper, you could do this in the morning, evening or throughout the day when you feel like you need to. Sometimes when we have a lot going on our heads can feel ‘full’ leading to us becoming overwhelmed and stressed. Simply writing these thoughts down can reduce this, help us visually see everything we need to do as we have written it down, and help us rationalise and prioritise our tasks more efficiently. Furthermore, you could try gratitude journaling, writing down 3-5 things a day that you are grateful for no matter how small, this helps you to appreciate things you have in life and have a more positive outlook on your situation. 

A Break From Social Media

It is well known that social media can affect our mental health. We compare ourselves to those we see online and may feel negative about ourselves if we do not receive ‘likes’ on a picture. It affects our quality of sleep and we can feel lonely after using it as our online relationships are not as fulfilling as ones in real life. We rely on our phones so much in modern day that we risk not being fully ‘present’ in the real world and everyone could benefit from a small break from social media. You could start with not using it in the evening, helping you sleep better and reducing stress before bed, or you could decide to stop using it when you’re out with friends or family, improving your relations and allowing you to enjoy their company. If you want to go further you could deactivate or delete your apps for a week or so, this way you will not have the temptation to keep checking them. While it may not be realistic to stop using social media completely, breaks from it are very beneficial for mental health and overall wellbeing. 

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Recovery and mental illness

Mental illness and recovery

Mental illness and recovery 1200 902 Team Mindsum
Listen to this article (04:48)
Last updated: 4 January 2021

This article covers:

– What is recovery?

– Goals for recovery

– Types of recovery

The process of recovery

What helps the recovery process?

What is recovery?

For mental health, recovery has a different meaning compared to when we talk about recovery from a physical illness. Recovering from a mental illness does not always mean that the person experiences complete recovery in the way that they would from a physical illness.

In mental health, recovery is referred to as an ongoing process that involves learning new ways to cope with life and regaining control in certain areas such as mood, thoughts, emotions, behaviours and relationships. 

For many people, recovery is about fulfilling the goals that support a positive and meaningful life. You could say that you are recovered at any stage, as long as you feel better than when you first had the problem.

Goals of recovery

The goals of recovery are different for each person. This is something that you are usually asked to think about at the start of therapy. Here is a list of common goals that a person might want to work towards for their recovery:

  • Thinking more positively

  • Gaining control over emotions

  • To be completely free from negative symptoms

  • To have a better social life

  • To build healthy relationships

  • To do something that seems impossible

  • To discover more about the self

  • To look forward to the future

Types of recovery

Clinical recovery: This is the type of recovery that your doctor/therapist will find as they keep track of your symptoms during treatment. For example, you might fill out questionnaires on anxiety and find that your symptoms are not as strong and frequent anymore.  

Personal recovery: This is the type of recovery that is unique to you. You might notice changes in yourself and in your personal life. For example, you might generally feel happier and more satisfied in your relationships with loved ones.

The process of recovery

The process of recovering from a mental illness can also be very different for each person. Although, this can sometimes move between two extremes. This includes:

Making progress: This is when you are improving clinically and/or personally and getting closer to your goals of recovery. Each person makes progress at their own pace. Some individuals can make progress very rapidly compared to others.

Having setbacks: This is the opposite of making progress, where things may not work out as expected. This can be a normal part of the recovery process. This is also an opportunity to find new ways to move forward.

What helps the process of recovery?

Aside from the obvious things such as therapy, medication and self-help. There are some more general factors that can make a difference when it comes to recovering from a mental illness. These can include:

Relationships
Research shows that support from family and friends is perhaps one of the most important keys to recovery. Loved ones provide an excellent support network that can encourage you to continue to make changes in your life. Loved ones are often a good source of emotional and practical support during difficult times in the recovery process.

Attitude
Our attitude and behaviour towards our recovery also matters. Below are some examples of different attitudes that can be helpful for recovery when it comes to mental illness. These can include:

  • Acceptance: This might be the starting point of your recovery. Accepting that you are struggling can be hard, but it is important in order for you to work towards your goals in a realistic way.

  • Patience: This is an important attitude to have, especially when you experience setbacks in your recovery. We can be quite hard on ourselves, especially when progress does not happen as fast as we would like. Being patient will be helpful because recovery is a process and a journey that requires time and effort.

  • Persistence: When setbacks happen or something does not work out, you can easily feel discouraged or tempted to give up. Not giving up and being open to trying again is a good way to be persistent towards your recovery.

  • Discipline: This is where you are intentional about your recovery. This might mean that you make sure to set the time aside to focus on getting better by being on time to therapy, completing therapy homework, taking your medication and making effort to do what is necessary for you to get better.

Above all, it is good to remember that recovery from a mental illness is a journey and not a destination.

Josie’s Story
Josie has suffered from depression for a few months. Even though she has had therapy and no longer suffers from severe episodes, she sometimes still has some days where she struggles with her mood. She knows that doing morning exercises will help her mood during the day. So a few times a week, she makes sure to set some time aside for a morning walk. She hopes that one day she will be completely free from depression, but she also realizes that she still has much more to learn about other new ways to cope.”

List of useful resources

Mental Health Foundation
To read their information on recovery, you can click here to access the link.

Rethink Mental Illness 
To read their information on recovery, you can click here to access the link.

MIND
To read their information on recovery, you can click here to access the link.

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Mental health and Covid-19

Mental Health and Covid-19

Mental Health and Covid-19 1299 828 Alisha Gibbons

The coronavirus pandemic brings about struggles and worries for everyone, whether that’s to do with health, work, finances or friends and family. In a lockdown, we’re forced to spend more time indoors and change our whole routines which inevitably has had an effect on our mental health. In fact, the likelihood of an adult experiencing depression has doubled (one in five) from what it was before the pandemic (one in ten).

Every day we make sure we are keeping ourselves physically healthy. We practise social distancing, wear our face masks, wash our hands regularly and work from home. Due to the nature of the coronavirus, we are so focussed on keeping ourselves from becoming physically ill that it is easy to forget how important it is to also keep ourselves mentally healthy. Whilst the priority for most of the year has been on physical health, it seems that mental health has taken a back seat and as a result, we are seeing more people having problems with depression, anxiety and other issues. 

We need to be kinder to ourselves, especially in times like these. It is okay to take some time out for yourself and do things that you enjoy and that will relax you. Here are some ideas which you can do if you are struggling with your mental health in these uncertain times.

Talking to those around you: Check in with your friends and family, whether that be by phone call, video or in person depending on the rules in your area. You can discuss your own worries while also addressing theirs, helping and supporting one another through this difficult time. This can also be good if you are worried about your loved ones as you can be reassured, they are safe. We are all in this pandemic together and you are not alone. 

Understand the rules: There are different rules around the world, in different cities and in different towns, not only that but they are ever-changing, which can be very overwhelming. It’s hard to know what you can do and who you can see. The best thing to do is to regularly look up what the guidelines are in your area, this way you are keeping up to date, following the rules correctly and it will reduce any anxiety you have about rules to follow. 

Exercise: It is no secret that exercise is good for our body and mind. Moving your body can instantly make you feel more uplifted and more accomplished for the day. There are so many forms of exercise you can do during lockdown without going to the gym; go for a walk or a run, do a home workout DVD or YouTube video, do a dance workout, online Zumba classes, even doing a deep clean of your house is moving your body and getting some form of exercise. It is easy to not feel like doing anything in these strange times, but even just 10 minutes of light exercise is better than none. Pair this with a healthy balanced diet and you are helping your physical and mental health at the same time. 

Control: Focus on what you can control. This is a more difficult one as it may seem like everything is out of your control. The virus is very unpredictable, rules and restrictions are always changing, and we can’t plan our futures in the same ways we used to. Instead of dwelling on things you can’t control, try to focus on the many small things you can control. You control what you do each day, who you speak to, what you eat and drink, what you do in your spare time. Take everything one step at a time, this will help you feel less overwhelmed, anxious and help you feel like you are regaining back some control. 

Hobbies: Doing things you enjoy or starting a new hobby is such a good way to take your mind off the current situation. Look at your restrictions and see which of your hobbies you can still do, this could be playing football, golf or meeting up with friends while social distancing. If the restrictions in your area are strict then you can still do things you enjoy in the home, watch your favourite film, play games with the family, read a new book, garden or do some crafts. The main thing is that when doing these activities your mind is occupied thus not leaving room for any anxious thoughts or feelings. It’s a small way we can bring some kind of normality back to our lives during this time.

One final thing that is important to remember is that it is normal to feel more anxious and overwhelmed at the moment. This year has been difficult for a lot of people for a lot of different reasons, but some good advice is to try and focus on the good things and moments rather than the bad. If you are struggling with your mental health please do not be alone, speak to someone you trust or your local doctors. If you need any more advice on how to seek help, please talk to us on our Online Chat to get more information.

More support and advice

NHS: 10 tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus
Mind: Coronavirus and your wellbeing
ONS: Coronavirus and depression

Click here to get free advice from our experts

Mindsum and Landbot

Landbot helping people get free mental healthcare

Landbot helping people get free mental healthcare 2560 1920 Team Mindsum

Here at Mindsum, we had a challenge: how to provide relevant information to our website visitors. As you can imagine, we have information related to 8 different mental health conditions. And each condition has separate pages for symptoms, causes and treatments. Instead of letting our users sift through various pages, we thought it would be better integrating a conversational chatbot who can navigate a user to the right information and a call-to-action based on their preferences.

This is how our search for chatbots started. After thorough research, we finalised three contenders – Flow XO, Botsify and Landbot. We had the opportunity to test all three bots, with a free trial. For us, the three major deciding factors were ease of use, friendly support and multi-platform integration – website, social media and WhatsApp. The verdict: Landbot exceeded our expectations in all our criteria by a considerable margin.  

We were amazed to see how easy to use Landbot is. In less than 30 minutes, we had our first bot ready, who could navigate a user to the relevant article, and also schedule a call! Also, we hardly needed to contact Landbot support team as the chatbot builder is so intuitive. However, when we needed a bit of handholding, the support was just a click away. Landbot has an amazing support team, always happy to help. Thirdly, with only a few clicks, Landbot was deployed to our website, social media and we could also sync data with our CRM, Mailchimp, and even Google spreadsheet.

As a non-profit organisation, the cost is always a consideration. Landbot, with so many features, is still cheaper than Botsify. Flow XO, charge less than Landbot, but it has very few features compared to Landbot, and they charge extra for adding more bots or having more interactions.

Once we decided to go with Landbot, we approached Landbot leadership to explain our mission. Appreciating our work, Landbot CEO offered his help to further our cause. Support from Landbot has enabled us to build meaningful relationships with our visitors, volunteers and partners. This means children, young people and their parents can have a better user experience when looking for the right information and support on our website.

We strongly believe technology can be harnessed for good. It’s what we use. It’s where we go. And it’s through technology that we can deliver mental health and wellbeing tools at scale to make a difference in the world. And with Landbot’s support, we are one step closer to make that difference. 

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