Self Love

Uncover The Importance of Self-Esteem and Emotional Health for a Balanced Life Amidst Global Challenges

Uncover The Importance of Self-Esteem and Emotional Health for a Balanced Life Amidst Global Challenges – Get Actionable Tips Now.

In the tapestry of modern life, where the threads of global events weave patterns of complexity and constant change, the importance of nurturing our inner world becomes ever more evident. With February marking the observance of both Boost Your Self-Esteem Month and Emotional Health Week, there is a poignant reminder that amidst the global noise, the quiet cultivation of self-appreciation and emotional wellbeing is beneficial and essential.

Why Focus on Self-Esteem and Emotional Health Matters

Self-esteem is the mirror through which we view ourselves, often reflecting back the complex interplay of our thoughts and experiences. It is our sense of personal worth and the foundation upon which we build our interactions with the world. Oprah Winfrey’s sentiment encapsulates this beautifully, emphasising the power of defining the world on our own terms, thus resisting the external pressures to conform to judgments that are not our own.

The benefits of fostering healthy self-esteem are profound. It is a barricade against the tumultuous tides of life, providing resilience against mental health challenges, enhancing our relationships, and empowering us to pursue our aspirations with conviction. During Emotional Health Week, we are reminded of the synergy between emotional resilience and self-esteem, where one reinforces the other, creating a harmonious balance within our psychological ecosystem.

Self-Esteem in the Digital Age

Our digital age, awash with images of curated perfection, can often erode the shores of our self-worth. The relentless comparison facilitated by social media platforms can lead to a relentless pursuit of an unattainable ideal, sowing seeds of doubt and self-criticism. The call to action is to invest time in ourselves, find those everyday affirmations that bolster our sense of self, and remember that what we see online is often not the full spectrum of reality.

The advice is clear: take a break from social media, embrace activities that nourish the soul, and surround yourself with positivity.

A Holistic Approach to Boosting Self-Esteem

Beyond digital detoxes, self-care is paramount. Simple lifestyle changes like a healthy diet, regular exercise, and engaging hobbies contribute significantly to our sense of self-worth. In the process of self-discovery and understanding, we learn to replace negative criticisms with positive affirmations, a practice that requires patience and persistence.

The Pyramid of Self-Esteem

At the base of self-esteem lies

  1. self-worth
  2. self-efficacy,
  3. and self-agency.

These three pillars form the bedrock of our self-perception, influencing our interactions and ability to cope with life’s challenges. We must learn to appreciate our successes, recognise our strengths, and set achievable goals to bolster these. By doing so, we construct a self-image that is robust, resilient, and reflective of our true potential.

Cultivating Emotional Health

Emotional Health Week encourages us to prioritise our emotional wellbeing by recognising the signs of emotional distress and addressing them proactively. By acknowledging our feelings, setting healthy boundaries, and seeking support when needed, we can navigate the complexities of our emotional landscapes with greater ease and confidence.

Navigating the Global Stage

Why does this all matter, especially when the world’s stage is crowded with pressing issues? It matters because the strength of our global community is a reflection of the individual wellbeing of its members. When we are grounded in healthy self-esteem and emotional wellbeing, we contribute to a more resilient, compassionate, and understanding world. We become better equipped to face global challenges with a sense of hope and collective purpose.

In essence, the journey towards enhanced self-esteem and emotional health is an ongoing process that requires mindfulness and a concerted effort to engage with ourselves and the world in a positive, affirming manner.

As we embark on this journey, let us remember that each small step taken is a stride towards a healthier, more balanced self and, in turn, a more harmonious world.

Mike Lawrence: Health & Wellbeing Enthusiast and Mental Health Advocate

Hi, I’m Mike Lawrence, and I’m dedicated to enhancing mental health and wellbeing. After overcoming significant health challenges, including brain surgery, I’ve committed to a journey of self-improvement and helping others. My adventures range from thrilling skydives for charity to transformative travels in Thailand. I share insights from my experiences and key learnings from impactful audiobooks. Join me in exploring holistic health and wellbeing, and let’s embrace life’s adventures together!

Feel free to connect with me through email at hello@mikelawrence.co.uk or Linkedin. For more detailed insights and stories from Mike, click here to read the latest blogs.

Mike Lawrence Health & Wellbeing Management Consultant

 

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Thriving Amid Uncertainty Cultivating Mental Wellness and Resilience

Thriving Amid Uncertainty Cultivating Mental Wellness and Resilience”

Confidence How To have It And Keep ItIn an age where uncertainty seems to be the only certainty, the shadow of the post-COVID era looms large, weaving a complex tapestry of emotional, psychological, and societal challenges. This pervasive uncertainty has become a central theme in our lives, sparking discussions in various settings—from Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) courses to intimate conversations with colleagues and clients. The lingering sense of fear and the collective dip in vibrational energies call for a nuanced understanding and robust strategies to navigate these uncharted waters. Drawing inspiration from Stephen Covey’s seminal work, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” this blog aims to explore the intersection of uncertainty and mental health, offering insights and strategies to foster mental wellness and resilience.

The Era of Uncertainty: A Mental Health Perspective

Since lockdowns and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, an undercurrent of fear and uncertainty has unmistakably altered our collective mental health landscape. This shift has manifested in various forms—be it in MHFA courses, therapy sessions, or casual workplace discussions—highlighting a universal struggle with the unknown. In his book, Stephen Covey’s distinction between the Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence provides a powerful framework for addressing these challenges. By focusing on aspects within our control, we can mitigate the impact of uncertainty on our mental health.

The Psychological Toll of Uncertainty

Uncertainty can be a fertile ground for anxiety, stress, and a pervasive sense of helplessness. This psychological toll is compounded in the post-COVID world, where the future seems more unpredictable than ever. The key to navigating this landscape lies in understanding the mechanisms of uncertainty that trigger our stress responses and finding strategies to counteract these effects.

Strategies for Building Mental Wellness and Resilience

  1. Empowerment Through Influence: Embrace Covey’s Circle of Influence by taking actionable steps towards what you can control. This approach reduces feelings of helplessness and fosters a sense of empowerment.
  2. Cultivating Acceptance: “Acceptance does not mean resignation,” as Michael J. Fox aptly puts it. It’s about recognising the reality of a situation and finding ways to move forward.
  3. Mindfulness and Present Moment Awareness: Grounding techniques and mindfulness practices can help diminish the anxieties tied to uncertainty, encouraging a focus on the present moment.
  4. Building Connections: As Brené Brown emphasises, connection is the essence of human experience. Sharing our vulnerabilities and fears can create a sense of belonging and support.
  5. Positive Actions for Resilience: Engaging in activities that promote physical and mental health is crucial. Exercise, nutrition, and adequate rest are foundational to resilience.
  6. Embracing Change and Growth: Viktor E. Frankl’s insight, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves,” reminds us of the growth potential inherent in facing uncertainty.

Navigating Financial Uncertainty: A Tip for Tight Budgets

In times of financial strain, it’s essential to remember that many effective self-care practices are low-cost or free. Exploring nature, practising meditation, or simply engaging in heartfelt conversations with loved ones can be profoundly healing. The key is to find joy and comfort in the simple things that nourish your soul.

Conclusion: A Call to Action for Mental Wellness

The journey through uncertainty is not one we walk alone. By leaning into the strategies discussed and drawing inspiration from the wisdom of thought leaders like Covey, we can navigate the complexities of our current landscape with grace and resilience. Let’s commit to taking proactive steps towards mental wellness, embracing the uncertainties of life as opportunities for growth and transformation.

As we continue to adapt and thrive amid the uncertainties of the post-COVID era, remember that our mental wellness and resilience are not just personal achievements but collective victories. Together, we can forge a path of healing, growth, and profound well-being.

Mike Lawrence: Health & Wellbeing Enthusiast and Mental Health Advocate

Hi, I’m Mike Lawrence, and I’m dedicated to enhancing mental health and wellbeing. After overcoming significant health challenges, including brain surgery, I’ve committed to a journey of self-improvement and helping others. My adventures range from thrilling skydives for charity to transformative travels in Thailand. I share insights from my experiences and key learnings from impactful audiobooks. Join me in exploring holistic health and wellbeing, and let’s embrace life’s adventures together!

Feel free to connect with me through email at hello@mikelawrence.co.uk or Linkedin. For more detailed insights and stories from Mike, click here to read the latest blogs.

Mike Lawrence Health & Wellbeing Management Consultant

 

Thailand Phi Phi Islands

Transform Your Wellbeing Five Essential Self-Care Strategies for a Balanced Life

Transform Your Wellbeing Five Essential Self-Care Strategies for a Balanced Life

The Power of Retreats: A Journey to Self-Discovery

I recently delved into an enlightening article in The Guardian about mental health and sports performance. This brought to mind my personal experiences with retreats, which have been pivotal in my mental wellness and personal growth journey. Following a LinkedIn post about these retreats, the resonating feedback inspired me to share more.

Embracing the World: My Retreat Experiences

Mangosteen Ayurveda & Wellness ResortMy retreat experiences around the world have been nothing short of transformative, each offering its unique blend of relaxation, self-discovery, and connection with nature. Let me take you on a journey through these retreats and share how they’ve reshaped my perspective on self-care and mental well-being.

Swiss Alps: Meditation Walks and Storytelling

In the Swiss Alps, the retreat was a harmonious blend of meditation walks and mindfulness amidst breathtaking mountain views. I vividly recall the serenity of walking through the alpine landscapes, each step a journey towards inner peace. The mindfulness sessions were particularly memorable and filled with rich storytelling. Although the stories were narrated in German, I was fortunate to have the English versions shared over dinner. These stories, set against the backdrop of the majestic Alps, added depth to my meditation, making each session an enlightening experience.

Sri Lanka: Ayurveda, Yoga, and Nature

Sri Lanka Retreat Sri Lanka offered an immersive experience in Ayurveda, yoga, and connecting with nature. The retreat centred around holistic wellness, with treatments and oils meticulously tailored for rejuvenation. Gong baths provided a unique auditory meditation experience, resonating with the natural surroundings. A standout memory was spotting turtles on the nearby beach, a reminder of the serenity and beauty of nature. However, the most challenging yet rewarding part was the all-day purge or detox. While not the highlight in terms of comfort, it was a crucial component of the cleansing process, contributing significantly to the overall wellness experience.

Thailand: A Focus on Ayurveda and Oils

Mangosteen Aryuveda & Wellness ResortMy time in Thailand was a shorter version of the Sri Lankan experience, with a strong focus on Ayurveda treatments, especially the use of therapeutic oils. The retreat emphasised the importance of holistic healing, combining ancient practices with the tranquillity of the surroundings. The oils used in the treatments were vital for physical wellness and mental and emotional rejuvenation.

Looking Ahead: The Next Adventure

I’m already in the planning stages for my next retreat later this year. Each journey has been a step forward in my understanding of mental wellness and self-care. These retreats have taught me the importance of taking time for oneself, embracing new cultures, and the profound impact of integrating different wellness practices into my life. Stay tuned for more updates on my upcoming adventure and the unique experiences it will undoubtedly bring!

These retreats have been more than escapes from everyday life; they’ve been pivotal in my journey towards a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me. From the meditation walks in the Swiss Alps to the Ayurvedic practices in Sri Lanka and Thailand, each experience has contributed to my personal growth and wellness journey. I look forward to sharing more insights and stories from my next retreat, continuing this journey of exploration and self-discovery.

Integrating Self-Care into Daily Life

But true self-care extends beyond these retreats. Integrating regular spa days, weekend getaways with friends, and family outings into my routine has been essential. These moments play a crucial role in refreshing and rejuvenating my spirit.

Five Tips for Regular Mental Health and Well-being

  1. Embrace Short Getaways: Discover the rejuvenating power of mini-breaks.
  2. Connect With Nature: Unveil the therapeutic effects of the great outdoors.
  3. Incorporate Mindfulness: Learn how daily mindfulness can centre your thoughts.
  4. Find Joy in Everyday Activities: Explore the therapeutic impact of hobbies.
  5. Maintain Social Connections: Understand the mood-boosting benefits of socializing.

Conclusion: The Continuous Journey of Self-Care

I’ve learned through my retreats and regular self-care practices that well-being is a multifaceted journey. I encourage you to find what works for you: a retreat, a weekend break, or daily mindfulness. The goal is to create a sustainable practice of self-care that supports your overall wellbeing.

Final Thoughts

Remember, self-care is a personal journey that profoundly impacts our quality of life. Let’s prioritize our mental health with the same urgency as our physical health, enriching the very essence of our lives.

Mike Lawrence: Health & Wellbeing Enthusiast and Mental Health Advocate

Hi, I’m Mike Lawrence, and I’m dedicated to enhancing mental health and wellbeing. After overcoming significant health challenges, including brain surgery, I’ve committed to a journey of self-improvement and helping others. My adventures range from thrilling skydives for charity to transformative travels in Thailand. I share insights from my experiences and key learnings from impactful audiobooks. Join me in exploring holistic health and wellbeing, and let’s embrace life’s adventures together!

Feel free to connect with me through email at hello@mikelawrence.co.uk or Linkedin. For more detailed insights and stories from Mike, click here to read the latest blogs.

Mike Lawrence Health & Wellbeing Management Consultant

Teh Awesome Adventures o Mike's 60th Year!

Reflecting on 2023 Celebrating Achievements and Embracing 2024 with Optimism

Reflecting on 2023: Celebrating Achievements and Embracing 2024 with Optimism

Mike Lawrence Health & WellbeingAs we approach the end of another fast-paced year, it’s time to take a step back, appreciate our accomplishments, and look ahead with hope and determination. Ellen Goodman’s wise words resonate: “We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.”

The year started with uncertainty as I faced the challenges of recovering from a brain surgery known as pituitary apoplexy. Uncertainty loomed over whether I would fully regain my sight. I spent considerable time at home and in the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, contemplating my future. Despite the odds, I had already decided that there would be a focus on self-care and wellbeing, which would shape my work moving forward.

Achievements

Mangosteen Ayurveda & Wellness Resort Sky Dive Charity Jump!Thailand Phi Phi Islands

1: Health and Wellness Transformation

In 2023, a journey to improved health and wellbeing was one of the most significant milestones. Despite initial challenges following medical issues, I successfully shed 9 kilos. This accomplishment was a testament to the power of determination, dietary changes, intermittent fasting, exercise, and a positive mindset. It taught me that our mindset plays a pivotal role in achieving our goals. In 2024, I’m eager to explore holistic health further.

2: Skydiving for a Cause

2023 brought thrilling adventures, including a heart-pounding skydiving experience from 14,000 feet over Nottingham’s stunning skies. Beyond the adrenaline rush, this adventure had a purpose: raising funds for the Mental Health Foundation. It reinforced the idea that stepping out of our comfort zones can lead to extraordinary accomplishments while supporting a vital cause.

3: Exploring Thailand

Amid a bustling year, I realised the importance of rejuvenation. After intense recovery and a fast-paced life, I embarked on a transformative journey to Thailand. I savoured Ayurveda treatments there, relished nourishing vegetarian cuisine, and immersed myself in Thai culture. It underscored the significance of self-care and the need to pause and reflect.

Top 3 Audiobooks of 2023

2023 was also a year of enriching knowledge through audiobooks. Here are three noteworthy picks:

Audiobooks

The Plot Nadine Dorries - The Political Assassination of Boris JohnsonAll over the world, our ability to pay attention is collapsing. In the US, college students now focus on one task for only 65 seconds, and office workers on average manage only three minutes. New York Times best-selling author Johann Hari went on an epic journey across the world to meet the leading scientists and experts investigating why this is happening to us – and discovered that everything we think we know on this subject is wrong.Are you anxious and not sure why? If you answer yes, then that’s completely normal; you are human! Our brains aren’t evolved for the complexities and complications of modern life. So for his next trick, Derren Brown will reboot your brain, with the help of world-renowned experts. By drawing on wisdom and insights from modern psychology to ancient philosophy, Derren demonstrates how you can rise above your brain’s limitations and think yourself into a more fulfilling, less anxiety-ridden and perhaps happier life.

1: “The Plot”

“The Plot” provides a gripping look behind the scenes of political intrigue, revealing the hidden forces shaping our world and offering a unique perspective on leadership dynamics.

2: “Stolen Focus”

“Stolen Focus” explores the reasons behind our diminishing ability to concentrate, challenging the notion that it’s solely a personal failing. It provides insights into regaining our focus in an age of distractions.

3: “Derren Brown’s Boot Camp for Life”

“Derren Brown’s Boot Camp for Life” is a transformative guide to rebooting our minds. Drawing wisdom from psychology to philosophy, it offers a path to reduce anxiety and lead a more fulfilling life.

As we enter 2024, let’s carry the spirit of celebration and growth. Each achievement, adventure, and audiobook has contributed to our personal development. If you were to look back on your year, what would be your three most significant achievements? Please feel free to share. Drop me an email!

Mike Lawrence: Health & Wellbeing Enthusiast and Mental Health Advocate

Hi, I’m Mike Lawrence, and I’m dedicated to enhancing mental health and wellbeing. After overcoming significant health challenges, including brain surgery, I’ve committed to a journey of self-improvement and helping others. My adventures range from thrilling skydives for charity to transformative travels in Thailand. I share insights from my experiences and key learnings from impactful audiobooks. Join me in exploring holistic health and wellbeing, and let’s embrace life’s adventures together!

Feel free to connect with me through email at hello@mikelawrence.co.uk or Linkedin. For more detailed insights and stories from Mike, click here to read the latest blogs.

Mike Lawrence Health & Wellbeing Management Consultant

Christmas Festivities

Navigating Christmas in the UK Amid Rising Costs: A Time for Reflection and Adaptation 🎄

The Changing Tide of Christmas Celebrations Amid Economic Challenges

As the festive lights of Christmas begin to twinkle across the UK, the joy of the season is tinged with the sobering reality of a challenging economic climate. The United Kingdom, like many parts of the world, is grappling with a significant rise in the cost of living. In October 2023, the inflation rate dipped to 4.6%, a decrease from the 6.7% recorded in the preceding month. 

However, this relief is slight, as the prices of essentials, particularly food, remain significantly higher than in previous years, with food prices in October 2023 being 10.1% higher than a year earlier.

Christmas Spending: A Glimpse Into the UK’s Festive Budget:

Despite these economic headwinds, Christmas spending in the UK shows a surprising trend. Britons are expected to spend an average of £602 each on Christmas gifts in 2023, marking a 40% increase from the average spend of £429 in 202​​0. This uptick in spending, against economic challenges, highlights the deep-seated value placed on the festive tradition of gift-giving. However, it also points to a potential strain on household finances, with nearly 23 million Brits (43%) planning to cover their Christmas expenses using credit cards.

Diverse Spending Patterns Across Generations and Regions:

This year’s spending patterns reveal interesting dynamics across generations and regions. Generation Z is leading the way in festive spending, planning to allocate an average of £828 each on Christmas gifts. In contrast, baby boomers are taking a more frugal approach, with an average spend of just £39. Geographically, the highest spenders are in Scotland, with an estimated average spend of £924 per person, followed closely by Londoners who plan to spend around £841 per person. 

Northern Ireland tops the charts regarding the percentage of people indulging in gift buying, with 91% of residents participating. It’s interesting to note the gender dynamics, with 89% of women planning to buy gifts, though their average spend is lower (£503) than men (£716​​).

Reflecting on Personal Circumstances and Celebrating Responsibly

As we observe these trends, we must reflect on our financial situations. Are we stretching our budgets too thin for the sake of tradition? How can we balance the joy of giving with financial prudence? This Christmas, perhaps more than ever, calls for a balance between maintaining festive cheer and being mindful of economic realities.

Mike’s Christmas Practical Tips

As someone who delivers a range of health and wellbeing talks, seminars, and workshops, the most popular topic in the New Year is always financial wellbeing. So, here are my top tips before we go for our festive break:

January Sales: While Black Friday has passed, the January sales offer excellent opportunities for savings. Keep an eye out for deals, especially on more significant purchases.

Help for Households: The UK government offers various supports through the ‘Help for Households’ campaign. Visit helpforhouseholds.campaign.gov.uk to find out what support is available to help with bills, childcare, travel, and energy savings.

Turn2Us: If you struggle to pay bills and essential living costs, Turn2Us can assist with benefits, grants, and other aid forms. Visit their website at www.turn2us.org.uk for more information.

StepChange: For managing debts and coping with rising energy and food prices, StepChange offers free and impartial debt advice. Visit www.stepchange.org to learn more.

Energy Company Support: Many energy companies financially support households struggling to pay their bills. Check with your provider or explore options like the British Gas Energy Fund.

Single Occupier Tariff: Some water companies offer a Single Occupier tariff. If you live alone, check to see if you’re eligible for reduced rates.

Voucher Codes: Always look for a voucher code box when shopping online. Finding and applying a discount code can save money, and these savings add up over time.

Food Banks: If you’re facing food insecurity, seek local food banks. Your local authority website should have information on locations and access.

Council Tax Reduction: Contact your local authority to see if you are eligible for a reduction in your council tax.

Negotiating Bills: Don’t hesitate to haggle with providers like Sky, phone companies, and other subscription services. Calling them directly often yields better results than online negotiations.

Conclusion: Embracing the Essence of Christmas:

In conclusion, as we navigate the complexities of an economically challenging Christmas, let’s not lose sight of what makes this season exceptional – the warmth of togetherness, the joy of sharing, and the spirit of kindness. This year, let our celebrations reflect our love for others and our understanding and adaptation to the world around us. 

Please share your thoughts or drop me a message if you have any tips on how you plan to celebrate this Christmas while managing your budget, and let’s inspire each other with ideas and stories of a meaningful, cost-conscious festive season. 🌟✨

 

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This Remembrance Day Veterans Are Being Encouraged To Get Support For Their Mental Health

 

Addressing the Invisible Wounds of Combat through Innovative Approaches

The mental health crisis among veterans, particularly those who have experienced combat, is a growing concern that demands urgent attention. A staggering report from a recent JAMA Neurology study reveals a more than 10-fold increase in suicide rates among U.S. veterans from 2006 to 2020, underscoring the inadequacy of current treatment strategies.

In the U.K., the situation is similarly alarming. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) remains a prevalent issue among veterans. Statistics show a significant number of these brave individuals have PTSD, a condition often exacerbated by their experiences in combat. The National Health Service (NHS) strives to provide support, yet the complexity of mental health challenges in veterans calls for a multi-faceted approach.

As someone who has worked closely with veterans, I’ve seen firsthand the profound impact of combat on mental health. Some challenges they face are the memories of lost comrades, the strain on personal and professional relationships, and the struggle to reintegrate into civilian life. My approach involves talking therapies, which have proven beneficial in managing these difficult memories and experiences. These therapies are not just about coping with past traumas; they’re about rebuilding a life with new strategies for wellbeing.

The Benefits of Self-Care in Veteran Mental Health:

  • Meditation: Enhances resilience by developing the ability to cope with stress and recover from adversity. Regular meditation practice leads to mental flexibility and a healthier stress response.
  • Gratitude Exercises: Strengthens relationships by fostering a positive outlook that enhances empathy and deepens connections with others.
  • Counselling or Talking Therapies: Improves self-esteem by providing safe spaces for self-exploration, leading to greater self-awareness and confidence.
  • Talking to Friends and Family: Boosts physical health by providing emotional support and reducing feelings of isolation, which can positively impact physical wellbeing.
  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices help in managing symptoms of anxiety and depression, contributing to overall emotional wellbeing and mental health stability.

Self-care strategies like meditation, mindfulness, and expressing gratitude daily have shown remarkable results.

They are encouraging veterans to maintain open communication with trusted friends and family members, which further aids in their mental health journey. The Armed Forces Covenant in the U.K. reinforces this need, ensuring that the armed forces community receives the same standard of healthcare as any other citizen. Information leaflets published by the MOD offer guidance on how veterans can access these services.

The Mental Health Foundation highlights that depression, anxiety, and alcohol problems are common among personnel and veterans, in addition to PTSD. Recent studies, such as those conducted by the King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR), suggest an increasing trend in help-seeking behaviour, especially among women.

Innovative perspectives like the brain energy theory of mental illness provide new hope. This theory offers a different understanding of mental health issues, potentially leading to more effective treatments.

Our collective responsibility is to ensure our veterans receive the care and support they deserve. We can significantly improve our veterans’ mental health and wellbeing by integrating traditional medical approaches with holistic self-care practices and new scientific insights.

Contact Information for Support:

Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Let’s work together to support our veterans in their journey towards healing and resilience.

Mike Lawrence Health & Wellbeing

Surviving and Thriving A Year After My Pituitary Tumour Surgery

Surviving and Thriving A Year After My Pituitary Tumour Surgery

The Unexpected Turn

Mike Lawrence Health & Wellbeing

Imagine delivering a two-day Mental Health First Aid course, feeling a sense of accomplishment after a successful first

day, only to find yourself in an entirely different world by the next morning. Overnight, I was rushed to a hospital in London, three hours from my home, and was diagnosed with a pituitary tumour.

The Onslaught of Thoughts

The whirlwind of thoughts that followed was overwhelming. There I was, lying in a hospital bed, far from home, pondering over my clients and my self-employment finances during the challenging times of lockdown and COVID-19. The uncertainty was daunting – would I regain my sight? Could I drive again? These negative, debilitating thoughts seemed unending.

Finding Strength in Focus

But amidst this chaos, I found an unexpected strength within me. I decided to focus on one thing at a time. The first and foremost was my recovery. Hospitalisation was the initial phase, where I battled not just the physical ailment but also the mental toll it took. The next stage was transitioning home and starting rehabilitation, where the love and support of friends, family, and clients played a crucial role.

Reintegrating with Renewed Emphasis

And finally, the phase I am currently navigating is reintegrating into my work life, with a renewed emphasis on self-care. As I write this article from the serene setting of Sutton Hall Resort in North Yorkshire, I reflect on the journey I have been through.

Speaking Out: Raising Awareness

In January 2023, I spoke out about my experience in a press release titled “Surviving a Pituitary Tumour: Why Prioritising Our Mental Health is More Vital Than Ever”. My condition, pituitary apoplexy, results from bleeding within the pituitary gland. Fortunately, the tumour was non-cancerous, but the experience was a stark reminder of how easily we overlook the signs of struggling with mental health.

The Wider Crisis

This experience has made me acutely aware of the mental health crisis affecting not just patients but those in high-stress jobs as well. A report highlighting that 45% of UK police officers suffer from mental health issues is a testament to this grim reality. Moreover, the waiting times for mental health treatment in the NHS and the plight of patients in A&E departments underscore the urgency of addressing this crisis.

The Power of Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid Instructor Through my ordeal, I found solace and strength in the knowledge I had gained as a mental health first aid instructor. This training equipped me with skills and strategies that were instrumental in dealing with my traumatic event. It’s crucial to understand that mental health first aid isn’t about diagnosing or treating mental health issues. It’s about recognising signs of a mental health crisis in yourself or others and providing support until professional help is available.

A Call to Action

The journey has been challenging, but it has been enlightening. I urge everyone to pay close attention to their mental health and wellbeing. Practising self-care daily and learning about mental health first aid are vital steps we can all take. We must also advocate for better mental health resources and support in our communities and workplaces.

As we navigate these challenging times, let’s remember to care for ourselves and each other. Our mental health is as important as our physical health, and it’s high time we prioritise it. If my story can inspire even one person to seek help or support a loved one, then sharing it has been worth it.

Join the Conversation

Your mental health matters. Join our Mental Health First Aid course, engage in community discussions, or reach out for support. Together, we can create a world where mental wellbeing is not just a goal but a reality. Let’s make mental health first aid as common as physical first aid. Join me on this journey – for yourself, your loved ones, and our community.

Mental Health First Aid 2-Day Training Course Ambassador Theatre - Birmingham

Update on the First Aid (Mental Health) Bill: A Balanced View from a Health and Wellbeing Practitioner

Since my last commentary in February 2023 regarding the First Aid (Mental Health) Bill introduced by Dean Russell MP, the discourse surrounding its efficacy and applicability has considerably evolved. As someone who has progressed from senior managerial roles to becoming a health and wellbeing consultant and a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Instructor, I find it imperative to provide a nuanced perspective on the subject.

The Bill’s second reading was initially scheduled for February but is now scheduled for 24 November, after a statement released in April. Several employment bodies, including the Council for Work & Health (CfWH) and the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), have called for a more comprehensive approach towards mental health in the workplace, citing that MHFA should be part of a multifaceted intervention strategy. They emphasise that MHFA alone cannot suffice as a solution for workplace mental health issues.

In my earlier career, I was part of what critics term the ‘tick box brigade’, sceptical of how much change standalone interventions like MHFA could affect. I had already undertaken physical first-aid training multiple times across various organisations, recognising its fundamental importance. However, my perspective radically shifted during the lockdown when I decided to broaden my services and undergo MHFA England instructor training.

When I completed the course myself, pondering the advantages of being a physical first aider both professionally and personally, the true potential of MHFA became palpable to me. This personal transformation led me to embrace the role of an MHFA instructor, which I see as complementary to existing initiatives and fundamentally valuable. For example, Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), which I also deliver on behalf of the UK’s largest provider, have an engagement rate within companies as low as 10%. MHFA can bridge this gap by raising awareness and making mental health discussions more routine.

The critiques of MHFA as a single intervention are valid but not strong enough to dismiss the programme outright. These reservations primarily focus on the potential for it to become a ‘tick box exercise,’ with risks to confidentiality and a lack of support for mental health first aiders. While I concur with these concerns, I argue that they also existed before physical first aid became a workplace standard. MHFA, like any intervention, needs to be part of an integrated mental health strategy, but its absence would be a glaring omission.

As we look towards the future, it’s clear that doing nothing isn’t an option. MHFA should be seen not as an end but as an essential component in a broad spectrum of interventions aimed at fostering a mentally healthier, more compassionate work environment. In my own practice, the dual roles of a health and wellbeing consultant and an MHFA instructor enable me to bring a balanced, lived experience to the table.

This Bill should prompt further legislation and engagement from all stakeholders in defining what mental health support in the workplace should look like. The key is to strike a balance, drawing from various perspectives and solutions—my journey and professional transition are a testament to the potential for evolution in this critical dialogue.

I eagerly await the second reading of the First Aid (Mental Health) Bill and the consequential discussions that are bound to follow as the UK attempts to tackle the escalating mental health crisis that confronts us all.

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A Leap of Faith Skydiving for the Mental Health Foundation

Though not necessarily brave, I’ve always considered myself an adventurer at heart. Maybe a bit daft, even. In my work as a mental health first aid instructor and a private practice consultant, I see people who grapple with social anxiety, stress, and depression.

I often preach the gospel of stepping outside one’s comfort zone. But hey, it’s easier said than done, right?

Inspired by our ancestors who braved saber-tooth tigers and trekked miles for food, I took the plunge for the Mental Health Foundation. But this leap was more than just a tick off my bucket list; it was deeply personal. Last year, I had a pituitary tumour removed. That intense experience made me reevaluate my priorities; ever since then, self-care has been at the top of my list.

Now, back to the plane. My instructor, Josh, was a pro. His pre-jump brief was as exciting as listening to a speech by Rishi Sunak, which oddly calmed my nerves. “Place your hands across your chest, wrap your legs around the underside of the plane, and head back,” he advised as if telling me how to tie my shoes.

The plane taxied down a short runway under a cloudless sky. Perfect weather—unlike the cancelled jump a few weeks prior due to bad visibility. We reached an altitude of 14,000ft, and I found myself afloat among skydiving aficionados and charity-driven daredevils like myself.

Josh handed me goggles so tight they made me look like a cartoon character whose eyes might pop out at any moment. Then, the plane’s door opened, and for a fleeting moment, I imagined myself getting sucked out like in a bad action movie.

One by one, people took their leaps. I mimicked a mantra in my head, “Hands across the chest, feet under the plane, head up, wait for the tap, then Superman.” Finally, it was my turn.

As I inched closer to the edge, my brain screamed, “What the bleep are you doing, Mike?!” But before I could complete that thought, gravity took over. I was tumbling through the air, screaming, but also oddly liberated.

Josh gave me the much-anticipated tap. I thrust my arms forward, miming Superman, grinning like a madman. And just like that, the sheer terror transformed into an adrenaline-fueled euphoria.

As we descended, Josh handed me the parachute controls. “What happens if you let go?” a devilish voice in my head wondered. Ignoring it, I swivelled left and right, marvelling at the beauty below.
Eventually, Josh guided us toward the landing zone. “Legs to the chest, then out in front,” he instructed. And we landed like pros—or rather, he did; I was just along for the ride.

“What was it like?” the cameraman asked. “Absolutely insane!” I blurted out, my heart still racing.

This was not just a thrill-seeker’s dream but a defining moment that combined personal growth, healing, and advocacy for a cause I deeply believe in mental health. Skydiving was a literal and metaphorical fall into a new understanding of life and resilience, a perfect symbol of my journey from a patient to the pinnacle of self-care.

Thanks to this experience, I’m even more committed to championing mental health. I took a leap for myself and everyone who has been where I was. So, let’s soar to new heights together in our collective fight for better mental health.

Would you like to help, too? Please spread the word, donate, and let’s make a difference. Because sometimes, a leap of faith is what it takes to move mountains.

Thai Boxing

The Mental Health Benefits of Paying It Forward

I was on holiday in Thailand recently and was excited to participate in a Thai boxing session at the Rawai Muay Thai boxing gym. While standing in line, excitement mixed with confusion as I grappled with the foreign currency, I realised I was 60 Thai Baht short. Just as panic began to set in, a lady who had overheard my conversation with the management kindly paid the difference. Her simple act of kindness was a surprising and appreciative gesture that made my day and got me thinking deeply about paying it forward.

When was the last time that you paid it forward?

The philosophy of paying it forward, where we help others without expecting anything in return, brings numerous mental health benefits. Here are seven compelling examples, each backed by scientific research:

Boosts Happiness

Participating in activities created to assist others can evoke happiness. Science supports that those who give back are generally happier. Helping others triggers an instant feeling of joy, and realising that someone’s life just improved because of you boosts the “happy hormones.”

Reduces Stress and Lowers Blood Pressure

Rachel Piferi of Johns Hopkins University and Kathleen Lawler of the University of Tennessee conducted a study that proved supporting others socially led to lower blood pressure. This biological response helps reduce stress, improving overall mental and physical well-being.

Encourages Longevity

An interesting study conducted by Doug Oman of the University of California, Berkeley, in 1999 revealed that up to 44% of older individuals were less likely to die over five years if they volunteered for two or more organisations. This result held true even when considering other healthy habits, highlighting the potential longevity benefits of selfless acts.

Strengthens Social Connections

Building bridges between people and paying it forward encourages empathy and connection. It fosters community and unity, reminding us we all share the human experience.

Inspires Mindfulness and Gratitude

Being mindful of others’ needs and acting generously encourages gratitude. This positive loop can lead to higher levels of contentment, happiness, and overall mental health.

Promotes a Positive Outlook on Life

Experiencing kindness can shift one’s perspective, instilling a sense of hope and optimism. This positive outlook can be a powerful force in improving mental health and nurturing a more fulfilling life.

Builds Self-Esteem and a Sense of Purpose

Aligning actions with personal values and principles boosts self-esteem and imbues life with purpose. Knowing that you are making a difference in others’ lives enhances self-worth and offers a rewarding sense of achievement.

A Chain Reaction of Kindness

Paying it forward often creates a chain reaction, inspiring others to do the same. It creates a domino effect where one act of generosity leads to another, multiplying the positive impact on individuals and communities.

Conclusion

My experience in Thailand was not merely an enjoyable holiday memory but a poignant reminder of the transformative power of kindness. Paying it forward carries profound mental health benefits that reach beyond the individual and touch the lives of others.

A single act of kindness can spark warmth and humanity in a cold and indifferent world. So why not take the initiative and perform an act of kindness today? You never know whose life you might change – it might even be your own.

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Remembering the Windrush Generation Celebrating 75 Years of Resilience Triumph and Overcoming Injustice

Seventy-five years ago, an epochal event unfolded as the HMT Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury in Essex, marking a monumental moment in British history. It was carrying within it a wave of change – hundreds of immigrants from the Caribbean, called the Windrush generation, who responded to the post-war call to help rebuild the nation.

The tale of resilience and contribution begins here and is intertwined with personal narratives of people like my grandfather and parents who made this brave journey towards hope and opportunity.

My parents were among the many who made the journey to the UK. My mother initially settled in London and moved to Sheffield to join my dad—countless stories of courage and determination define this remarkable generation. Like many of their peers, they grappled with the unknown, battled the odds, and committed to the promise of a brighter future in a new homeland.

However, this new chapter of multiculturalism in Britain was fraught with systemic challenges. This was starkly highlighted during the Windrush scandal.

Despite their legal status and contribution to British society, the Windrush generation faced unjust treatment. They were wrongly detained, threatened with deportation, and denied access to healthcare due to bureaucratic issues.

In the 1960s and 70s Britain, hundreds of black children were labelled as “educationally subnormal” and wrongly sent to special schools for pupils deemed to have low intelligence.

A significant stride towards justice was the Commission for Racial Equality investigation. The commission’s comprehensive report spotlighted the institutional failures that led to the mistreatment of the Windrush generation and recommended changes to prevent such future injustices. This report was an essential first step towards acknowledging the contributions and rights of the Windrush generation in the UK.

Throughout these hardships, the Windrush generation displayed a resilience that inspires us. Take, for instance, actor David Harewood OBE, whose personal journey of overcoming a psychotic breakdown to achieve success is a testament to the spirit of this generation. His candid story, which he shares in his powerful Richard Dimbelby lecture on struggle and triumph, serves as a beacon of hope for future generations, encapsulating the heart of the Windrush narrative – endurance in the face of adversity.

Wrongful deportations compounded the pain of the Windrush generation. This was particularly true for those who faced mental health challenges upon their arrival in the UK. The lack of adequate support systems and understanding of these issues added another difficulty for these immigrants.

In 2019, in response to the Windrush scandal, the government established the Windrush Compensation Scheme. But the scheme, despite its noble intentions, has faced criticism for its slow implementation and insufficient support, leaving many affected individuals still awaiting their due compensation.

The 75th anniversary of the Windrush generation’s arrival in the UK presents an opportune moment to celebrate their enduring legacy and highlight the systemic issues they faced.

Commemorative events such as the civic reception in Sheffield, which my mother attended, are a testament to their societal contributions. However, many of the generation’s community was unaware of such events, signalling the need for more comprehensive outreach and communication efforts, highlighted in the Sheffield Star by Carol Stewart, whose mother or close friends of my mother were not included until I made them aware.

Reflecting on the experiences of the Windrush generation, there are five critical actions the government needs to undertake in my opinion:

  1. Reform the Windrush Compensation Scheme: Fast-track the compensation process, ensuring those affected receive due compensation without delay.
  2. Improve Legal Assistance: Enhance the provision of free legal support to help Windrush generation members and others navigate the complexities of immigration law.
  3. Promote Equality in Immigration Policies: Review and reform immigration laws to safeguard equal treatment of all individuals, irrespective of their origin.
  4. Foster Education and Awareness: Incorporate the history and contributions of the Windrush generation into the national curriculum, fostering understanding, empathy, and appreciation amongst future generations.
  5. Address Visa Costs: The high cost of visa processing fees must be reassessed to encourage diversity and offer equal opportunities.

As we commemorate this landmark 75th anniversary, we honour the Windrush generation’s resilience and contributions to Britain and pledge to rectify the injustices they suffered.

This occasion is a testament to their enduring legacy and a clarion call for systemic reform to prevent future injustices. It’s an opportunity for us to ensure that their story continues to be told, their contributions recognised, and their experiences used to forge a path to a more inclusive and equitable society.

 

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Reflecting on the Inaugural Launch of the #BatonOfHopeUK

Introduction

Friday, 2nd June, marked a significant milestone as I had the privilege of attending the inaugural launch of the #BatonOfHopeUK. This extraordinary event aimed to raise awareness of suicide nationwide, leaving an indelible mark on my heart. Hosted at the illustrious Intercontinental Hotel in London, the evening featured a black-tie 3-course dinner, esteemed guest speakers, a charity auction, captivating music, and an atmosphere filled with the joy of dancing.

A Night to Remember

As I stepped into the Intercontinental Hotel, I was immediately enveloped in an atmosphere of anticipation and a shared commitment to a cause close to our hearts. The exquisite black-tie dinner was a delightful feast for the senses, with every dish carefully crafted to perfection, showcasing the organisers’ attention to detail and dedication.

Inspiring Voices

One of the many highlights of the evening was the presence of remarkable guest speakers who shared their stories, insights, and heartfelt messages. Their words resonated deeply, a powerful reminder of the importance of raising awareness about suicide. The bravery and vulnerability displayed by these individuals were truly inspiring, igniting a fire within all attendees to contribute towards creating a society that supports and uplifts those in need.

A Bid for Hope

The charity auction was an exhilarating experience, as bidders vied for unique items, all in the spirit of supporting the #BatonOfHopeUK. The energy in the room was palpable as each bid represented a step forward in the collective fight against suicide. Witnessing the generosity and commitment of the attendees was a humbling reminder of the strength of the community and the impact we can make when we come together for a common cause.

Dancing for a Cause

The evening reached its crescendo as the dance floor came alive with infectious energy and enthusiasm. It was a joyous celebration of life and a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. The sight of people from different walks of life moving in harmony served as a poignant reminder that unity and solidarity are key in tackling the issue of suicide.

The Baton of Hope Campaign

The #BatonOfHopeUK was born out of the shared grief of Mike McCarthy and Steve Phillip, fathers who tragically lost their sons, Ross and Jordan, to suicide. Their friendship and determination to make a difference led them to become persuasive advocates for change in UK suicide prevention policy. They met with the Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP, then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, to share their knowledge and lived experience.

In June 2022, Mr. Javid delivered a keynote speech at the headquarters of the suicide prevention charity PAPYRUS, emphasizing the importance of providing better and more targeted support to those at risk of suicide. He acknowledged the need for a new and ambitious long-term plan for suicide prevention.

Mike and Steve secured Mr. Javid’s endorsement and support for their Baton of Hope campaign, which was announced on BBC Breakfast the following day. The Baton tour aims to raise awareness across the country, and Sheffield is one of the cities on its route. With its beautiful greenspaces, abundant trees, and forward-thinking approach to technology, Sheffield offers a unique and meaningful backdrop for the Baton’s journey.

The Baton in Sheffield

Sheffield, known for its vibrant culture and scenic landscapes, holds a special place in the Baton of Hope tour. As the Baton walks through the city, it highlights Sheffield’s commitment to promoting mental health and preventing suicide. With five rivers, 800 managed greenspaces, and more trees per person than any other European city, Sheffield provides a delightful environment for the Baton’s journey. In line with the city’s focus on technology and sustainability, one stretch of the tour will be carried out in an electric vehicle, symbolizing Sheffield’s dedication to the future.

In Summary

Attending the inaugural launch of the #BatonOfHopeUK was an evening filled with inspiration, purpose and a shared commitment to combating the issue of suicide. The event provided a platform for remarkable guest speakers and a spirited charity auction and highlighted the dedication of individuals like Mike McCarthy and Steve Phillip. Their vision, alongside the support of influential figures like Mr Javid, shapes the Baton of Hope campaign as it travels through cities like Sheffield, leaving a trail of awareness and hope in its wake.

Resources for Support:

In times of need, it’s essential to reach out for support. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please consider contacting the following helpline services:

Samaritans:

Call 116 123

CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)

Call 0800 585858

Text ‘SHOUT’

to 85258

PAPYRUS (Prevention of Young Suicide)

Call 0800 068 4141

Remember, you don’t have to face these challenges alone. Reach out for help, and together we can make a difference. If you prefer to contact me directly, feel free to contact me at 0114 670 081 or via email at hello@mikelawrence.co.uk.

Mental Health Awareness Week

Embracing Anxiety How It Can Benefit Us and Support Mental Health Awareness

As Mental Health Awareness Week (15th – 21st May 2023) approaches, it’s essential to acknowledge that we all have mental health, just as physical health. Anxiety is a normal part of life and can benefit us in certain circumstances. In this blog post, we’ll explore the benefits of anxiety, its impact on our lives, and how we can create a more understanding environment for those who struggle with anxiety. Let’s come together and start a conversation to support each other better and raise awareness about mental health.

The Upside of Anxiety:

Anxiety is often seen as a negative emotion, but it’s essential to understand its benefits. At its core, anxiety is a natural response to perceived threats or challenges. It can help us stay alert and focused and perform better in certain situations. For example, anxiety before a job interview or an important exam can push us to prepare more thoroughly, ultimately leading to better outcomes.

According to a study by the American Psychological Association, moderate anxiety levels can enhance memory and cognitive performance. It’s also believed that anxiety can help us develop resilience and problem-solving skills. In essence, anxiety can be a driving force to help us adapt, grow, and overcome challenges.

Recognising the Impact of Anxiety:

It’s crucial to recognise that while anxiety can be beneficial, it can spiral out of control and become a mental health issue. According to the Mental Health Foundation, around 1 in 6 people in the UK experience a common mental health problem like anxiety or depression in any given week.

When anxiety becomes chronic, it can significantly impact our daily lives and the lives of those around us. Maintaining relationships, performing at work, or engaging in everyday activities may be challenging. In such cases, seeking professional help and support from friends and family is essential.

Creating a Supportive Environment:

One of the best ways to create a more understanding environment for those struggling with anxiety is to start a conversation. Sharing our thoughts and experiences can help break down mental health stigma and foster a safe space for discussion and understanding.

Here are some ways we can contribute to this conversation:

Share your personal experiences: Open up about your own experiences with anxiety, whether it’s through social media, blog posts, or simply talking to friends and family. Sharing your story can help others feel less alone and encourage them to seek help if needed.

Be empathetic and understanding: Listen to the experiences of others without judgment and offer support when appropriate. Sometimes, just being there to listen can make a significant difference to someone struggling with anxiety.

Educate yourself and others: Learn about the different types of anxiety disorders, their symptoms, and the various treatment options available. Share this information with others to help raise awareness and reduce misconceptions about anxiety.

Encourage open dialogue in the workplace: Talk to your employer about creating a supportive work environment for employees with mental health issues. This could include offering mental health days, providing resources and support, or even organising mental health awareness workshops.

Practice self-care: Supporting your own mental health is essential in supporting others. Develop healthy coping strategies such as exercise, meditation, or time in nature, and encourage others to do the same.

Support mental health organisations: Donate to or volunteer for organisations that provide support and resources for people struggling with anxiety and other mental health issues. Your contribution can make a significant impact on someone.

Be patient and respectful: Remember that everyone’s experience with anxiety is unique, and it can take time for people to manage their symptoms effectively. Be patient with those who are struggling, and always show respect for their feelings and experiences.

Spread the word: Use your social media platforms, your voice, and your actions to help raise awareness about mental health issues. You’re contributing to a more understanding and supportive society by spreading the word.

Create inclusive spaces: Encourage clubs, schools, and other community organisations to create inclusive environments where people with anxiety and other mental health issues can participate without fear of stigma or judgment.

Offer practical help: Sometimes, people struggling with anxiety may need assistance with everyday tasks or activities. Offer to help when you can, as even small gestures can make a big difference in someone’s life.

In conclusion, this Mental Health Awareness Week is an opportunity for all of us to recognise the impact of anxiety on our lives and those around us. By understanding that anxiety can be beneficial and challenging, we can start a conversation to support each other better and create a more understanding environment. Let’s unite and use our collective strength to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and improve mental health for everyone. Share your thoughts, experiences, and coping strategies in the comments below, and let’s continue this important conversation together. 💚

The importance of training in the new Mental Health First Aider (MHFAider®) in the workplace

Let’s start the conversation 

Today is World Mental Health Day 2022, it highlights the fact that mental health issues can affect anyone at any time.

The theme this year is ensuring mental health becomes a global priority.

Focusing on our own mental health first and looking at all aspects of our life.

Work is a huge part of this, and the office environment has changed for employees and businesses.

In recent years, we’ve seen a global covid pandemic, economic decline, cost of living crisis, the adoption of hybrid working, the great resignation and a recruitment crisis. It has taken its toll on employees, and now – more than ever – they need mental health support in the workplace.

So, what responsibility does a business have for its staff in this area?

Obviously, a business has a “duty of care” and “corporate social responsibility” but is that enough?

Mike Lawrence Award-winning Health & Wellbeing Management Consultant and MHFA England Instructor Member suggests not:

The latest report from Deloitte suggests employers see a return of £5 on average for every £1 invested in staff wellbeing,

Independent study and evaluation demonstrate that employees who become an MHFAider® are able to:

  1. Have a conversation with improved mental health literacy around language and stigma
  2. Recognise those that may be experiencing poor mental health and provide them with first-level support and early intervention
  3. Know how to access a dedicated text service provided by Shout and ongoing learning opportunities with MHFA England
  4. Know how to use the MHFAider Support App®

By becoming aware and informed, managers and employees can more readily spot the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and provide the proper support.

Lawrence is hosting a Mental Health First Aider (MHFAider®) training course Redbourn Parish Centre, The Park, Redbourn AL3 7LR on the 20th and 21st October

Which learners will become a Mental Health First Aider (MHFAider®) and receive three years of certification, plus access to ongoing benefits.  

As an MHFAider® you will be able to:

  1. Encourage a person to identify and access sources of professional help and other supports
  2. Practise active listening and empathy
  3. Discuss the MHFAider® role in depth, including boundaries and confidentiality
  4. Practise self-care
  5. Access to ongoing learning opportunities, resources and exclusive events
  6. Be part of the largest MHFAider® community in England

 

For more information click here

The Truth Behind the Great Resignation Highlights the Importance of Employee Benefits and Wellbeing

Why is the “great resignation” happening? 

You might be familiar with the term “Great Resignation”, also known as the “Big Quit”. But what does this phrase mean, and how will the Great Resignation affect careers in 2022?

Professor Anthony Klotz of Texas A&M University coined the phrase to describe many people quitting jobs for reasons associated with the pandemic. 

People worldwide have been walking away from jobs as they re-evaluate their work-life balance amid high levels of burnout.

According to reports, the trend was driven by a psychological and economic shift as companies toiled – and often failed – to lure worried staff to return to jobs, environments, industries and offices that have too often treated workers as expendable. 

The reasons for quitting seem to vary and depend on which survey you read. However, the main reasons cited by experts appear to be,

  • Lack of adequate childcare
  • Health concerns about Covid
  • Burnout
  • A lack of flexible working

Key findings from YuLife-YouGov survey A Look Inside Employee Mindsets During The ‘Great Resignation’ put the spotlight on the mindset of workers in the UK and highlight the changing belief that it’s the employer’s responsibility.  

  • 70% would exercise more if their employer introduced a new policy
  • 66% of UK employees would like their employers to dedicate a block of time, at least once a
  • week, to improve their health and well-being 
  • 62% of UK employees believe stress and burnout at work has increased in their workplace since the start of the pandemic 
  • 51% disagree that their employer takes an interest in their lifestyle decisions
  • 45% of UK employees believe this stress will continue over 2022
  • 45% of UK employees feel that their workplace/working life directly influences lifestyle decisions

Plus, time away from the office has given people the prospect to reflect on what they want from their life and career—providing them with a chance to quit in search of better work opportunities, self-employment, or, simply, higher salaries to meet the rise in inflation and the rise in the cost of living. 

But why were we so unhappy with the old “normal”? The word “normal” could be perceived as the root of the problem. We had to put up with the long commutes to work, costly lunches, and unhappy lifeless offices because we were told and conditioned that all of those things were “the norm”, and if we didn’t accept those practices, we didn’t fit in. A lot of time and effort is spent on trying to be “normal”, but the pandemic has changed our perception. Therefore challenging the need to go back to what was “normal” before. 

Some businesses are pushing back on this, trying to return to the way it was before as the best and only way to manage their employees and conduct business. Yet this old normal didn’t always allow people to reach their full potential because it didn’t allow individuals to reach their true potential. After all, it didn’t cater for our differences. 

Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), said that the job market would become “even more fierce as employees seek out new roles that meet their changing demands and aspirations.”

“Just offering big budget salaries isn’t cutting it anymore,” she said. “Managers who aren’t adapting their working models will be left wanting – and their organisations will pay the price.”

Therefore, what should companies be doing about it?

Employee well-being

Burnout, stress and depression are likely contributors likely to lead to an employee quitting. Therefore, organisations must have measures to recognise and alleviate these problems and prevent them from happening.

An excellent way to do so is by restating the importance of;

  • Encourage employees to take regular breaks
  • Enable staff to take time off
  • Execute a mental well-being strategy and policy 
  • Initiate regular employee check-ins 
  • Plan monthly employee appraisals 
  • Invest in training programmes for all employees 
  • Ensure individuals will not be looked down upon if they flag to their manager that they struggle with their workload.

Consider an Employee Assistance Programme to support the team’s mental, including professional help

If you want to learn more about the benefits of an EAP or the value of using a well-being consultant to assist you with improving the well-being of your employees, please get in touch for a complimentary consultation. Email enquiries@mikelawrence.co.uk or call 01142 670 081 

 

African wellbeing Sheffield health

Why employee mental health is your responsibility

African wellbeing Sheffield healthMental health is at the forefront of our minds and corporate agenda significantly as it directly impacts productivity and the bottom line.

In a report commissioned by The Royal College of Psychiatrists, the extent of the mental health crisis in England is at a ‘terrifying’ level. An alarming two-fifths of patients waiting for mental health treatment are forced to resort to emergency or crisis services. Furthermore, England is “in the grip of a mental health crisis” because of the Covid pandemic.

NHS England report that mental health problems represent the biggest single cause of disability in the UK.

The Centre for Mental Health claim up to 10 million Brits could need mental health support after the pandemic ends.

We’ve fought with lockdowns, face coverings and mask mandates, social isolation, (mis)communication of COVID-19, remote working, uncertainty about the future, and mistrust. Supporting employee mental health and wellbeing has become a significant priority for workplace morale and motivation. Employees are seriously seeking support with mental health needs.

It’s your opportunity

Employers who don’t take action when employees request additional mental health support often follow a similar philosophy with all other employee requests.

Employers in 2022 will need to address burnout and other mental health-related issues head-on to protect their staff. An excellent mental health and wellbeing package that includes mental health awareness training, regular check-ins, and even online 1-2-1 therapy for job seekers and current employees alike will be vital.

We can no longer ignore mental health concerns

In a Forbes.com article that surveyed workers and CEOs in the USA, most agree that poor employee mental health negatively impacts productivity. When we experience physical pain, we typically get in touch with a GP. In comparison, employees tend to keep it to themselves when they experience burnout, depression, isolation, stress, or anxiety.

Mental wellbeing problems at work cost the UK economy £34.9bn last year, says Centre for Mental Health.

Businesses that dismiss the issue or undermine the mental health of their employees risk not only the wellbeing of their employees but also the profitability and productivity of their business.

“The person you report to is more important than your family doctor – Bob Chapman, CEO Barry Wehmiller.”

Furthermore, the risk for small business owners’ mental health as half still live in fear of future lockdowns.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) recommend all employers give mental health training for managers.

The independent guideline committee, made up of mental health experts, employers, professionals from across the NHS, local authority members, and lay members, recommended when offering mental health training for managers, employers should consider including:

  • How to discuss mental wellbeing with an employee
  • Information about mental health and wellbeing
  • How to identify the early warning signs of poor mental wellbeing
  • Where to access resources on mental wellbeing
  • Raising awareness of the stigma associated with poor mental wellbeing
  • Continuous monitoring of mental wellbeing in the workplace

Business leaders must address these issues.

Diverse opinions on mental health in the workplace

Typically fall into three other areas:

  1. It’s not our role or responsibility
  2. Aware that it’s a problem but don’t know where to get help.
  3. Think they are doing enough by training some mental health first aiders but don’t understand how deep the issue goes

Wellbeing consultancy

Most employers want to help and support but don’t necessarily know where to start. Many consider and wonder whether having an employee assistance program (EAP) is sufficient?

Before the pandemic, mental health was discussed but not as openly as today. Many employers who offer an EAP are often poorly communicated to employees and underutilised in some organisations.

Between 2.5 – 16 per cent of employees use their EAP at least once a year. With the average around 5 per cent, according to research by Dr Zofia Bajorek at the Work Foundation. The most common reason for providing an EAP was “seen as good employment practice”.

Securing the services of a wellbeing practitioner for your people

This suggestion merits your attention if you wish to support your staff — and want their productivity to soar. While mental health and wellbeing services aren’t always straightforward and the products and services vary considerably by the provider, business leaders should see this as an opportunity to provide something meaningful to their employees’ wellbeing.

For better or worse, this is a time in our business culture where helping an employee with their mental health is not just an employer’s responsibility. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate that your organisation cares for your people.

The evidence is clear to us that all employers doing what they can to help their workforce have improved their employee attraction and recruitment.
Increased employee retention, most importantly, productivity, attitude, and loyalty.

I hope you agree that your people are worth it in the current economic and work environment.

Reach out now and find out how your organisation can benefit from scheduling regular wellbeing support for your employees.

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MHFA England Mental Health Adult First Aid 2-Day Online Training Course

Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) training provides a recognised qualification for employers and individuals who want to support the mental health and wellbeing of employees in the workplace. Mental Health First Aiders play a crucial role in helping the mental health and wellbeing within a business. It is understanding and awareness around mental health and develops the confidence to offer valuable support.

This two-day course trains you as a Mental Health First Aider, giving you:

  • An in-depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing
  • Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues
  • Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress
  • Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening

Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support – whether that’s self-help resources, through their employer, the NHS, or a mix


Dates:

  • Monday 7th March 9 am – 5 pm
  • Tuesday 8th March 9 am – 5 pm

​Cost

We value this course at £300 per person

Click here to reserve your place


Format

  • Two-day online course delivered across four manageable sessions
  • Learning takes place through a mix of presentations, group discussions and workshop activities
  • Each session is built around a Mental Health First Aid action plan
  • We limit numbers to 16 people per course so that the instructor can keep people safe and supported while they learn

Takeaways

Everyone who completes the course gets:

  • A certificate of attendance to say you are a Mental Health First Aider
  • A manual to refer to whenever you need it
  • A quick reference card for the Mental Health First Aid action plan
  • A workbook including a helpful toolkit to support your own mental health

Session 1

  • Why Mental Health First Aid?
  • The Mental Health First Aid action plan
  • What is mental health?
  • Impact of mental health issues
  • Stigma and discrimination
  • What is depression?
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Risk factors for depression
  • Depression in the workplace

Session 2

  • Suicide figures
  • Alcohol, drugs and mental health
  • First aid for suicidal crisis
  • Non-judgemental listening skills
  • First aid for depression
  • Treatment and resources for depression
  • Self-care

Session 3

  • What is an anxiety disorder?
  • First aid for anxiety disorders
  • Crisis first aid after a traumatic event
  • Alcohol, drugs and anxiety disorders
  • Treatment and resources for anxiety disorders
  • Cognitive distortions and CBT
  • Personality disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-harm

Session 4

  • What is psychosis?
  • Risk factors for psychosis
  • Alcohol, drugs and psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Warning signs of developing psychosis
  • Crisis first aid for acute psychosis
  • Treatment and resources for psychosis
  • Recovery and building resources
  • Action planning for using MHFA

Booking

To book your place on the course click here and you will receive an email confirmation and details of the course. If you would like further information please don’t hesitate to call Mike Lawrence 0114 2670081 or by email enquiries@mikelawrence.co.uk.


“If you don’t take the first step, nothing changes.”

Mike Lawrence - Sheffield Live  Radio Interview

Business Live: Jamie Veitch’s Sheffield Live radio show Building workplace wellbeing, confidence and inclusivity with Mike Lawrence

Working from home means many business leaders and employees feel isolated; others experience overwhelm and burnout, or never stop working. He has strategies to protect and support you and your colleagues’ health and wellbeing.

Born and raised in a working-class part of Sheffield, Mike now lives in Chesterfield. But as a young man, he had to move to London to access employment opportunities: covert racism in Sheffield proved an enormous barrier. Has that changed? Is the city a better place now for a young Person of Colour?

Mike “could talk for a week about some of the challenges I’ve had to overcome.” Alongside his one-to-one practice in Sheffield, he now works with many corporate firms and large organisations, enabling them to address discrimination, bias and barriers to inclusivity. He describes initiatives and action, underway and needed, to create a level playing field for all.

 

“It’s important we can still look forward to a great future,” says Mike Lawrence, workplace health and wellbeing consultant.

It’s been a year of immense stress: the pandemic, losses of family and friends, concerns for people’s health, living under restrictions, businesses going under or at risk of it, and horrifying injustices. Mike supports people with depression and experiencing anxiety, so how does he protect himself and what did he do differently this year?

Mike is also frank about a period in his life when his own confidence took a battering and how he addressed this, and describes practical actions you can take to protect and build your own.

Click on the link below to listen to the interview.

Business Live: Jamie Veitch’s Sheffield Live radio show Building workplace wellbeing, confidence and inclusivity with Mike Lawrence