TECHFORCE19 WINNERS: SUPPORTING MENTAL HEALTH

The Mental Health Challenge

Since the Government introduced measures around social distancing in response to the Covid-19 spread, Britons have been required to isolate, reduce contact with others, and change the way we interact with friends, neighbours and colleagues. From the moment these measures were announced, there has been concern from a number of sources about the toll that adapting could take on individuals’ mental health. 

Health authorities and Mental Health Charities have done incredible work putting out resources to help those who may be experiencing problems at this time. Health Charity Mind has outlined many possible difficulties that, if you’re forced to stay at home, you may struggle with and that could affect your mental health. Likewise, the NHS have released a guide to keeping your mind healthy while at home as part of the ‘Every Mind Matters’ initiative. 

The unprecedented challenges presented by the crisis meant that mental health was a clear area in which digital solutions might provide effective support to those facing difficulties. To help companies identify areas of particular importance, TechForce19 split the mental health challenge into 4 sub themes, detailed below:

  • Discovering and delivering mental health services
  • Accessing relevant and inclusive peer 2 peer communities
  • Supporting self-management of mental health and well-being
  • Facilitating employee well-being

The chosen companies

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Mental Health Awareness Week – Kindness Matters

Research shows that protecting our mental health is going to be central to us coping with and recovering from the coronavirus pandemic – with the psychological and social impacts likely to outlast the physical symptoms of the virus.  

Acts of kindness have the potential to make the world a happier place.

We want to see a world where kindness is built into business decisions, government policy and official systems. However, we can start by individual commitment to showing kindness in our words and our actions. 

You might want to do something for someone else or take note if you experience an act of kindness.  

Not sure where to start?   

We’ve put together some suggestions to help you out…  

At home and in your community  

  • Call a friend who you haven’t spoken to for a while  
  • Post a card or letter to someone you are out of touch with  
  • Send flowers to a friend, out of the blue  
  • Find out if a neighbour needs any help with shopping  
  • Ring someone who is on their own, or video call them  
  • Send someone a handwritten thank you note  
  • Tell your family how much you love and appreciate them  
  • Help with household chores  
  • Offer to help an elderly or vulnerable neighbour  
  • Check on someone you know who is going through a tough time  

At work  

  • Remember to say hi to colleagues and ask how they are – whether that’s face-to-face, or virtually if you are working from home  
  • Offer to support colleagues who may not be familiar with videoconferencing or new software that you have already used  
  • Set up a virtual coffee/lunch club – with your regular colleagues and with new ones  
  • Have a conversation with a colleague you don’t normally talk to   
  • Get to know a new member of staff – it is hard to join a new workplace under these restrictions  
  • Lend your ear – listen to your colleague who is having a bad day  
  • Say thank you to a colleague who has helped you  
  • Praise a colleague for something they have done well  

In public places  

  • Follow the rules on social isolation – but don’t make negative assumptions about others  
  • Wish a passer-by a good morning or afternoon from an appropriate distance (2 metres or more)  
  • Be a considerate cyclist/driver  
  • Pick up some rubbish lying around in the street  
  • Smile and say hello to people you may pass every day, but have never spoken to before from an appropriate distance (2 metres or more)  

On social media  

  • Take time to reach out online to people you haven’t seen for a while  
  • Write something nice or encouraging on a post you appreciate  
  • Acknowledge and validate someone’s story – if they are having a difficult time you don’t have to have all the answers, sometimes a like or a brief ‘I’m sorry to hear this, is there something I can do?’ is enough to make them feel heard  
  • Think about what you share – look at the source of the post, and the tone. If it isn’t kind, think twice. If something could upset others and you feel you need to post it, use a trigger or content warning  
  • Think about your comments and replies. Try not to say nasty things, or pile on where somebody questions another person’s actions   

Evidence shows that being kind really does improve your wellbeing.1 What’s more, the more you do for others, the more they are likely to do for you.11  

With this in mind, we’re suggesting that we all try to help others once a day for a week and see if it makes a difference to how we feel.  

You can take joy in being deliberately kind – whether by recognising the time you have for your kids or partner, to speaking more to family, or by volunteering in your community.     

Try to keep track of:  

  • any volunteering that you’ve done  
  • support you’ve given to friends and family  
  • any random acts of kindness that you’ve carried out  
  • what others have done for you.  

Remember to make a note of how they made you feel.  

You could try keeping a gratitude journal. Write down three things you are grateful for each day, or simply say these to yourself as the day draws to a close.  

It’s important to be kind to yourself as well 

Whatever you can manage today is good enough. Some people feel that the lockdown is giving them the time and chance to learn new skills or try new things. That may be you, and if so, enjoy and celebrate that.     

If this isn’t you, try not to beat yourself up about what you see others doing. If things are hard right now, try and find some small things to celebrate each day. Getting up and washing your hair can be just as much of an achievement as someone else posting about a 5k run on Instagram.  

Try to tune out the voice of judgement and comparison and tune in to the voice that says you are enough.  

Be kind to yourself 

  • Prioritise some “me” time, so you can relax and reflect on how you’re feeling and how your day or week has been so far  
  • Turn off from your social media channels for a day, or even a week  
  • Treat yourself to something small, such as buying or planting some flowers  
  • Do something you enjoy, like listening to a favourite song or dancing in your kitchen  
  • Spend some time in nature, which is good for our mental health   

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The Power of Positive Feedback

A two minute way to improve workplace wellbeing and productivity in 2020

A managing director of a large media company (let’s call her Joanna) admitted that she never told people when they had done something well. Her reason? “That is what they’re paid for,” she explained.

If they were doing a satisfactory job, Joanna’s argument suggested, it seemed unnecessary to praise them. The view from the people who worked for her was likely to be quite different. They don’t know when they’ve done a good job because no one tells them. In search of approval, they keep trying new approaches, often ignoring successful ideas for others that have less chance of working.

So, what’s the best way to offer feedback? There are times when a quick “nicely done” is sufficient. However, if you want the impact of praise to last and you want a good chance at changing how a person does things in the future, then you would do well to follow the steps of the five-star praise model.

5 Star Praise Model

Follow the five steps in just two minutes
Step   Example
1. Provide Context   If the praise isn’t given immediately, then it will help the person if you describe a bit of context. For example, “The board meeting that you had prepared the report for took place yesterday afternoon.”  
2. Be Specific   The more specific the praise, the more effective it is. By just saying “Thanks for the report; it was great,” you are not giving the person anything they can use and apply in the future. Was the report great because it was long, had pictures, started with a succinct summary, included questions for the reader to answer, or what? The best praise focuses on specifics. Again, find a balance. Simply telling the staff member (in the previous example) “Great report” might not be enough. But telling her “I particularly liked the way you listed out the contents alongside the diagrams in order” is possibly over the top.   “The report was just the right balance of data and analysis for the managers to digest in the board meeting.”
3. Describe the Impact   This is the part that motivates. When people understand the positive consequences of their behaviour, it’s a big incentive for them to repeat the good things they did. Again, a balance needs to be struck. Overstating the impact (e.g., “You saved my life by preparing such a great report”) will sound fake, and your praise will have significantly less impact–if any–because it almost sounds like you’re mocking the situation.   “After reviewing the report, it was easy for the managers to pick up on the key areas to focus on, you saved them hours of work which is not usually the case”
4. Reinforce their identity   This makes the person feel really good about themselves and/or their actions. You might say, “I have to compliment you. Not only was dinner delicious but to get that many interesting people together and make sure they were all served at the same time, as well as engage in conversation as the host, is simply impressive. That’s organisation and attention to detail at its finest.”   I have to say I am impressed how you thought outside the box and redesigned the format for the team.”
5. Congratulate   This is usually the beginning, middle, and end of praising. It has a role but if it’s all you do, you get only one star. When your praise earns five stars, you know you’ve done it right. It takes practice. But it’s not like we all don’t have a bunch of people in our lives who deserve some praise right now.   “So thanks again and keep up the great ideas and hard work.”

Think of a couple of situations in which you might praise someone and think about how to give them the full five-star praise effect.

Jot down the suggestions and confirm: Does the praise seem real? If it feels fake, think about another way of making your points.

If you can’t find anything to praise, then of course it’s possible that there isn’t anything the other person is doing well. However, it’s far more likely that you simply aren’t looking hard enough.

Praise if someone delivers something when they said they would, or even, possibly, when they are less late than usual. And don’t forget to mention the beneficial impact this punctuality has.

Positive feedback or 5 star praise can be used at with friends and family too. Give it go and see the results.

I’d love to hear the positive impacts for the workplace, parenting and relationships.

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World Mental Health – Take 5 minutes to create a great plan

It takes less than 5 mins !

Take the 5 minute Mind Plan quiz to create a simple, achievable wellbeing plan

The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year.

We encourage people to look after their mental health all year round, but today is a great opportunity to consider the different ways that we can boost our wellbeing, and to start a conversation about mental health.

This week saw the launch of Every Mind Matters, a campaign from Public Health England and the NHS providing information and ideas for your wellbeing. It’s great to see so many people talking about mental health.

Watch the Every Mind Matters video

Take the 5 minute Mind Plan quiz to create a simple, achievable wellbeing plan

Here are some tips for looking after your wellbeing – this World Mental Health Day and beyond:

Stay active

Physical activity can really help with keeping your mood positive. Even if you are very busy, find time to do some exercise you enjoy – we know it’s getting colder but consider hopping off the tube a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, avoid the lift and take the stairs or sign up to an impromtu exercise class after work!

Get enough sleep

Often sleep is a casualty when we are stressed, anxious or depressed, but we know it is vital for our wellbeing. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine in the evening. Have some wind-down time before going to bed and try and keep to a regular sleep routine. Avoid looking at screens in bed, even mobile phones. Finally, consider your sleep environment (such as light, temperature and noise), and make sure it is comfortable and conducive to sleeping!

Give yourself space

If it’s all getting a bit hectic, take time out – even if it’s brief! Go for a walk, have a cuppa with a colleague (away from your desk), listen to music.

Eat regular meals

It can be tempting to overdo it but keeping your routine, eating plenty of fruit and veg, and drinking enough water will help keep stress at bay.

Stay supported

You are not alone! Stay connected to your sources of support and if you’re not sure where to turn, you’ll find details of some useful organisations here.

and most importantly… look out for each other! 

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Why ‘zipping up’ helps to improve confidence and feel less threatened.

The Zip Up exercise

What is it ? Why do it?

  • The central meridian is one of the two energetic pathways feeding to the central nervous system. The central meridian pathway starts at your pubic bone and finishes at your bottom lip
  • The exercise strengthens your central meridian circuit by grounding, and centring. The effect is to lift your spirits, boost confidence and clear negative thought patterns
  • The zip up protects against negative outside energies – it creates a strong boundary/ protective field around your body and reduces vulnerability to people and environments
  • Using the zip-up technique on the central meridian enhances the energetic protection
  • Stay protected and teach this technique to loved ones.
  • The exercise can be part of the five-minute daily energy routine to boost immunity and maintain balanced health and energy

Let’s do it !!

Step 1     Briskly tap or massage on K-27 (kidney points). The points are located below our collarbone near our shoulder where it dips. This first step encourages that the body’s electrical energy moves in a positive forward direction.

You can choose to cross over your hands and arms to massage the points at the same time on opposite sides – this will help cross over our energies which move asymmetrically to heal and energise and will also cross over our right and left brain hemispheres.

Step 1 – Stimulate forward energy movement

Step 2   Now place both hands over the area at the bottom end of the central meridian – at your pubic bone.

Steps 2 and 3

Step 3     Take a deep breath in as you pull your hands slowly and deliberately, straight up in one continuous movement up the centre of your body to your lower lip. This pulls and traces the energy upwards.

This movement protects the central meridian and pulls energy upward

Make an affirmation as you are zipping up either in your mind or out loud such as; ‘I am safe, I am loved.’ Saying an affirmation whilst tracing your central meridian strengthens the central meridian and picks up your own thoughts and feelings as well as others affecting your energy. It can work in changing your beliefs and actions about and toward yourself and others, goals you want to achieve, and problems you want to resolve.

Exhale that breath and as you do keeping dragging the energy straight up over your face and above your head as far as your hands reach then circle out back downward in a large circle ending at the pelvis area.

This movement connects your energy and intention with your aura and universal energies.

Step 4     Repeat steps 2 and 3 three more times.

When can us it? ….. anytime

  • Choose to do as part of your morning wake up routine
  • Nip to the bathroom and do the zip up before a difficult meeting or when you tend to feel exposed or challenged.

What people say about using the zip up exercise

I cannot recommend this energy exercise enough. Not only has it helped me on numerous occasions when I was not feeling good, it has also helped my overall confidence over time. Friends and colleagues have noticed the changes and I have shared the exercise with them. Thanks so much Christine, you always know the best recommendations.

Used this exercise as I have difficult work relationships. All I can say is that it works!!!! Has made my days easier to manage. So simple. Thank you.

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World Suicide Prevention Day

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Youth Mental Health Aware – Half Day Course

Our half day course is an introductory three hour session to raise awareness of young people’s mental health

It is designed to give:

  • An understanding of some of the common mental health issues affecting young people, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders and psychosis
  • Skills to work more effectively with young people living with mental health issues
  • Ways to support young people with a mental health issue and relate to their experiences
  • A taste of the contents of the Youth MHFA Two Day course


Cost 

£75 per person. Delegates attending full session receive combined manual, workbook & certificate. Contact for group booking discounts.

What to expect 

We limit numbers to 25 people per course so that the instructor can keep people safe and supported while they learn.  You will get a manual to keep and refer to whenever you need it. When you complete the session you’ll get a certificate to say you are Youth Mental Health Aware.  

“ I learned to show more empathy, to have more confidence in asking questions and talking about mental health.”

Recent delegates

 Course structure 

  • Language and mental health issues
  • What is mental health?
  • Mental health conditions
    • Depression
    • Anxiety disorders
    • Psychosis
    • Self-harm
    • Eating disorders
    • Personality disorders
    • Alcohol, illegal drugs and mental health
  • Supporting young people in distress
  • Mental and emotional wellbeing

Learning is a mix of presentations, group discussions & workshop activities.

Book a course      Instructor – Christine Moran        07548 690170

Email: diamond.key@btinternet.com       www.e-being.co.uk

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