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Supporting each other for Mental Health Awareness Week

20 May 2020

It’s never been more important to look after your mental health and support those around you. So, we’ve got some tips and resources to help everyone do their bit.

18-24 May 2020 is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme is kindness. Brought to you by the Mental Health Foundation, it’s a great time to reflect and check up on those close to you.

Of course, this year things are a little different. So, with things a little more stressful and unusual, we’ve produced these tips and resources to help you stay on top of your own mental health and spot when others might need extra support.

Looking after your own mental health

Think back to the last time you were on a plane and the safety briefing they gave you. Mental health is a bit like a life jacket; it’s best to make sure yours is secure before helping others.

These tips can help if you’re feeling anxious or downbeat about life in lockdown:

Talk to someone. It helps to know you’re not alone in the way you feel. Sharing experiences with friends, family, is a good way to cope. Put it this way; talking to someone about your mental health might help, keeping problems inside definitely won’t.

Get some exercise. Your mental and physical health are heavily linked. Not only does exercise boost your self-esteem, but it also helps regulate your sleep pattern. A good night’s sleep is essential for staying happy.

Have a good meal. Just like with exercise, a balanced diet will boost your mental as well as physical health. It’s also great fun learning to cook something new that’s both delicious and good for you.

Know when to take a break. The comparisons between mental and physical health continue. Even top athletes know better than to burn themselves out in the gym. Studying 24/7 is a recipe for stress and anxiety. Treat yourself to time spent doing something you enjoy to recharge your batteries.

Ask for help if you need it. If you ever do feel like you’re struggling with your mental health, know that it’s ok to ask for help. Your fellow students and CATS staff want to see you succeed; they’ll be happy to point you in the direction of the support you need.

And speaking of your fellow students…

Supporting others with their mental health

CATS is a community, and that means looking after one another through good times and bad. If a friend comes to you asking for help with their mental health, there are some principles you can stick to which can ensure a positive, productive outcome:

Know what to look for. Not everyone knows how to ask for help. If a friend seems distant, quieter than usual, or stops socialising as much, it could mean they’re struggling. Suddenly gaining or losing weight can be another sign for you to check up on them and ask if they’re ok.

Know when to help. Not every time is the best time to bring up supporting someone’s mental health. Private conversations or DMs on social media are ideal for bringing up the topic without putting any pressure on someone.

Make it fun. People respond to mental health problems differently. Having a long, sit-down discussion about what’s going on might not always be the best way. Sometimes, just spending an afternoon doing something fun with no expectations is the perfect medicine.

Accept what you can and can’t do. If someone is in serious trouble, advise them to speak to a mental health professional. It’s natural for us to want to help our friends, but avoid taking on too much and risking your own wellbeing in the process.

Mental health resources

If you’d like to read more about how mental health impacts our lives or find support, you can access all sorts of free resources online.

Mind, the UK mental health charity, has a dedicated section on their site for young people.

The Mental Health Foundation themselves have a site packed with resources, fact, and stats.

YoungMinds is a dedicated charity supporting young people in the UK with their mental health.

The Children’s Society hosts an updated list of support services on their site.

Last but not least, the NHS Every Mind Matters programme provides expert advice and practical tips for young people’s mental health.

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