Overcoming Anxiety

Anxiety is now the number one mental health condition in the UK and with all the new stresses in our daily lives, especially during our current health crisis it has become somewhat of an epidemic. But contrary to what a lot of people think it is a very treatable condition and a lot of people do overcome it with the right help and advice.

When we first seek help in recovering we usually just find ways to manage anxiety and although this was part of my approach, it was more important to me to find the underlying cause of my condition. I wanted to truly understand what was creating it and so as to cut out the root.  I did not want to spend a lifetime treating the symptoms of anxiety, I wanted to be fully free of the condition.

Below are some helpful tips that helped me calm and move on from my anxiety.

Tips to help with anxiety

  • Get plenty of sleep and rest – When our mind and body is overworked it is even more vital to get the rest we need to recuperate.
  • Take up a new hobby – Rather than sit around brooding try and fill your day with something you enjoy. Relaxing or outdoor hobbies serve the most benefit.
  • Get involved in volunteering – Doing something positive can change your mindset and helps you mix with new people.
  • Take up meditation – This can help you let go of that busy mind and mentally switch off. I often meditate to this day and find it hugely beneficial.
  • Stop blaming yourself for how you feel and avoid conflict – When we feel anxious we can sometimes take how we feel on those around us, which only tends to create more drama and toxic feeling in our life. The result of this is just more stress and an increase in our anxiety levels.
  • Talk to others about how you are feeling – Opening up to others can have huge benefits, from being able to drop the act of being O.K to lightening the burden you feel. You will also find that people are far more understanding than you think and in many cases find out that they are going through their private struggle too.
  • Don’t use food or Alcohol to suppress how you are feeling – No one is perfect, and I am not saying don’t have the odd drink or always eat correctly. It is more about not using junk food or alcohol to suppress how you feel. Both will have the opposite effect and will most likely increase your anxiety, make you lethargic and reduce self-esteem.
  • Cut down on the worry. Worry and stress are the most significant contributors to anxiety, indulging in either only hurts you, it doesn’t solve anything. This period of your life is a warning and time to take stock of your life and make some real inner changes.
  • Have some downtime – In this busy day and age of smartphones, computers and 101 channels to chose from, many people now find that their brain is always stimulated. It is so routine now that some even feel uncomfortable if they aren’t watching T.V or staring at a phone, is it any wonder that peoples minds are busier than ever? If you can find half an hour each day to switch everything off and just be with yourself with no distractions, you will see considerable benefits in the long term for doing so.
  • Be loving and patient towards yourself – Don’t have any guilt for the way you feel or fall into any self-pity mode. Also, don’t expect or want to be better yesterday, give the mind and body all the time they need to heal while at the same time being patient and kind to yourself.
  • Don’t fill your day with the subject of anxiety – Filling your day with the subject can end up with the thoughts about anxiety becoming sub-conscious and with this habit, you find you are unable to think of anything else. Firstly there is no reason to go over the subject continuously; it does you no good. You also can’t stop thinking about the subject by trying not to; you do so by adding other things into your day and letting it happen naturally.
  • Don’t avoid life or triggers – Don’t fall into avoidance behaviours because you don’t wish to feel anxiety. This avoidance only creates new problems and ends up giving you a very narrow existence. The truth is recovery lies in these places; it lies in allowing yourself to feel anxious. Regaining your life and former you will never come through avoidance.
  • Do the best you can – Recovery can take time and progress can be slow at first so just do the best you can for now and don’t expect too much too soon. In time you will look back at be amazed at how far you have come.
  • Lose the negative people in your life – If there are people around you who tend to bring you down or pull you into their drama for whatever reason, then it may be time to think of having a spring clean and give yourself some distance for a while.

Steven Connelly

Supporting people with mental health issues.

Encouraging and supporting good mental health and well-being represents a hugely important section of working in the Social Care sector. It is crucial to be able to recognise when there are signs of deteriorating mental health in a client and a great deal of understanding and compassion is necessary if you are considering a role within this sector.

You will need to learn the key signs of when mental health may be deteriorating or there are signs of distress and how to appropriately support and help those suffering. You will also be responsible for promoting dignity and respect, maintain confidentiality and integrity at all times and value the individual’s own knowledge and experience of their issues.

There are many key personal values which are relevant to working in social care. Those needing your care and support have reported that personal values held by social care workers are extremely important factors in how their experiences can differ. It’s important to be aware that personal values are not the same as your principles. It is therefore very important that you can demonstrate a level of personal values which would be rated highly by those needing your care and support and also to understand their role in the way in which you deliver a service. Your personal development would include good training, practice development and peer support. Essential qualities include:

  • Showing empathy
  • Having compassion
  • Display a caring nature
  • Be honest at all times, even if the client doesn’t particularly want to hear it
  • Be consistent
  • Have integrity
  • Be friendly and approachable
  • Be optimistic
  • Ability to motivate others
  • Be non-judgemental
  • Be willing to collaborate with others.

Those with longstanding mental illness or mental health problems needing care and support may experience periods of crisis or distress. Mental illness or mental health problems may develop when clients are receiving social care for other reasons such as other disabilities, conditions or problems they are experiencing in other areas of their lives. Signs of deterioration in mental health to look out for include significant changes in their thoughts, feelings, mood, and behaviour.

It’s important for you to have understanding of these signs so that you could identify when those you’re caring for develop a mental illness or mental health problem and therefore would need adjustments to their ongoing care and support.

You would need an understanding that when people with mental illnesses are in crisis or distress, and behaving in unusual ways this is a result of their illness and not down to something you have said or done. You need to address your own concerns, as well as the person’s and their family and carers concerns and provide timely, appropriate and sensitive responses about the mental health support options available in order to care and support them.

You also need to be sensitive to the idea that those needing care and support may not be able to describe their distress or difficulties and the fact that they may have previously experienced stigma and discrimination in the past and therefore may be reluctant to talk about aspects of their mental health or what has caused their deterioration. You have to be careful not to make assumptions, just respond appropriately, raising concerns if necessary. Be aware that different lifestyles, values and behaviours may be the reasons for these signs, rather than a mental illness or mental health problems. The ability to communicate clearly is important in helping understand their feelings and avoiding any misunderstandings.

You would also be responsible for promoting social inclusion by helping them to maintain positive family and friends relationships, ascertaining if they have peer support and enabling carers to become involved in ongoing support.

Steven Connelly

Do We Care?

Many people may not think that littering affects the environment.

       In reality, littering has an extremely negative impact on the environment. Littering tends to damage areas where we live, work and where children play. There are different factors that lead to littering. Some factors relate to what people do, while others come from areas of manufacturing.

               Litter can come in many different ways and mainly because people can sometimes be rather careless and negligent. Who does it?  Well, a lot of times we see someone driving ahead of us, toss an empty to-go cup out of their window.  Or it could also be someone crumbling up a receipt and missing the garbage can outside.  It could even be a young child that may not know any better, carelessly dropping candy wrappers on the playground.  Some do it by mistake without realizing it, and unfortunately, some simply are too careless and purposely throw trash out of their car window, or just toss an empty can across an open field.

               Littering is a major problem that we need to try to address. 

Whenever you go to an event and there are going to be thousands and thousands of people there, it is going to be hard to control the amount of trash left around.   As some people will throw their trash away in the proper bins, sadly, some will leave their trash careless on the ground. It is our responsibility as people to clean up after ourselves and try to protect our environment, but that thought doesn’t often cross the mind of others. 

                While some people intentionally litter, this is something that can be controlled. More laws can be put in place to control the amount of litter that floods the streets by careless people that are causing harm the environment more than it already is. 

Not only is littering affecting us on the streets and our backyards, but it also affects the oceans, rivers and wildlife. 

Many animals die in their attempts to eat or get caught up in plastic bags left to blow away in the wind. Some people also have been known to throw their beer cans and the plastic rings in the water that can cut the fish and make them choke on the plastic. Many fish die from these factors and it’s time we brought awareness to this problem at hand.

                Littering causes a threat to our health and can cause harmful germs and bacteria. 

Littering can cause fires and also sends a message that people really don’t care about the Earth. 

Whereas some people may not be bothered to live in a world surrounded by trash, others may be trying to prevent that. 

Removing litter costs money, something that is hard for people to let go of. If we can spend a whopping $10 on a fancy cup of coffee, who says we can’t spend a little here and there to help keep our planet clean as well? 

                Above all, littering has a negative effect on everything. Animals get injured and swallow toxic things like oil and pesticides. People or animals can get sick or even die because of careless mistakes that happen in this world every day.  

Littering can be prevented but it has to involve everyone as a whole to help out.  People that get caught littering could face fines or even jail time.  So if someone were to get caught tossing out a cigarette butt out of the car window, they should also know they just threw a bundle of cash out the window. 

So please, be aware of the all of the consequences of littering and help keep our planet

Steven Connelly

During a poll 45% of Young Women admitted they were worried about their mental health. This compared to 36% of young men. Young women from poorer backgrounds were the most worried (50%). This is a significant number compared with previous years.

61% of young people regularly feel stressed and hopeless and 47% of young people say that they have experienced a mental health problem. Young women are more worried than young men about their finances, are more likely to think that confidence is holding them back and are more concerned about there body image. Young women have become a high risk group for mental health issues.

These are shocking facts and figures. They all point in the same direction. But we’re seeing very little action. The scale of the problem means we should see it as a public health issue and focus on prevention where possible, not just on NHS funding. We need to avoid the risk of worries and concerns escalating into mental health problems and more and more young people needing to be treated as “patients”. As a society we have to do more.

Let’s show young people that we care about their mental health and take action to reduce stress and anxiety. Let’s show them that we want them to be part of the workforce and bring their skills and talents to bear. Let’s give them a reason to be optimistic for the future.

Work is a crucial part of this picture. Recently The Prince’s Trust showed that half of young people say that having a job is or would be good for their mental well-being and 61% said it gives them a sense of purpose. But even if young people are in work they often continue to worry. 39% of young women and 36% of young men said they were worried about job security and more than half about how much their job pays.

So, what can we do?

We need to challenge the narrative of some politicians that we have near “full employment”. It is true that unemployment levels overall have reached less than 5% but the unemployment rate amongst young people continues to be over 12% and in some parts of the UK is over 18% – that’s nearly one in five young people unemployed! If our politicians don’t acknowledge the scale of the problem, nothing will be done.

We need to make work pay so that young people don’t need to go into debt or use services such as foodbanks. Good quality work can give people a sense of worth and meaning. At the moment young people under 25 are not even entitled to the same minimum wage as older colleagues. This should be changed so that anyone over 18 is entitled to and can expect equal pay for equal work. We should also control the use of zero hour contracts, so that young people know what they will be earning from one week to the next and are not living in fear that they will not be able to pay the bills.

We need to address the issues that young people identify as causing them stress and anxiety. Personally In my opinion the important issues would be housing costs, unemployment and job security.

There is much more that can be done if the will is there. Not doing anything sacrifices the well-being and mental health of even more of our young people.

Steven Connelly

Preventing Retail Violence

Workers are at an elevated risk of workplace violence, the retail industry experiences the third-highest workplace violence victimisation rate, after law enforcement and mental health professionals.

Some elements make certain retail stores greater targets. Late-night retailers such as convenience stores, supermarkets, and petrol stations and we can’t forget about the employees in the hospitality sector often are at the highest risk, because many have poorly lit car parking facilities and frequently are run by a lone worker.

Employers can implement certain logistical changes to make their retail outlets less susceptible to robbery and other acts of violence. A recent report outlined the guidance on preventing workplace violence in late-night retail establishments which included modifications to the physical environment, such as avoiding signage and shelving that blocks a worker’s view of the windows, installing a drop safe to limit the amount of money on hand, and also using bullet-proof enclosures in areas in south east England to protect workers from potential assailants.

Yet workers also need to be well-trained in how to behave in the event of a robbery or other encounter with a violent customer. At some stores “there have been cutbacks in the security coverage, and that’s a generally a massive concern. It’s not uncommon for an employee at a supermarket or a chemist to encounter violent situations a couple times a year.”

The main thing workers need to understand is to not resist in a robbery situation. My personal advice is to be as cooperative, calm and nonthreatening as possible, workers should be instructed to not confront shoplifters. “Unfortunately, some of those smaller retailers do … expect their employees to actively confront a shoplifter.” It’s very difficult not to though.

However, workplace violence can erupt not only at the hands of would-be robbers and shoplifters, but also from disgruntled customers. In those cases. I truly believe it is critical that employees know when to turn the situation over to a manager. “Be clear about the role of the manager. When a situation is developing with a customer, where they are getting more and more irate, [workers should] turn that over to a manager and not continue to get involved.”

Workers should not feel like they are failing to do their job or letting the manager down by doing this. “I would say that would be the critical point [in prevention] and hopefully stores have that policy. Managers are the ones that are trained to do that higher level of customer relations, and hopefully employees don’t make the mistake of getting personally involved in the situation. That’s the key part of training, as difficult as it is.”

Steven Connelly

How to support grieving children and young people.

Feelings are complicated, and sorrow is one of the most intense and individualized. Processing grief, expressing emotions, and learning to move forward when experiencing personal loss can seem like insurmountable tasks for anyone to tackle.

Children are particularly vulnerable in these difficult situations. They might find it hard to even wrap their head around the concept of death for the first time, or struggle to communicate the intensity of their sadness, anger, fear, relief, or confusion. Grief can become an overwhelming burden that weighs on school performance, social relationships, and behavior.

What to Do and Say

  • Be present and authentic.Children are sensitive to dishonesty, and they can often tell if someone is not being truthful. Speak directly about your own feelings, but avoid manufacturing an emotional response. If you, too, feel distressed by the child’s loss, you might say, “I was sorry to hear about your brother’s death. I feel very sad that he died. I know you must have some feelings about this. Would you like to talk about your brother or tell me what these last few days have been like?” If you didn’t know the person who died, it would not be appropriate to say, “I will miss her, too.” But it would make sense to a child if you said, “I didn’t know your friend, but I can tell she was someone who was very important to you. I feel sad that you had to experience such a loss.”
  • Listen more, talk less. It’s fine to share personal feelings and express caring and concern, but it should be kept brief. Keep the focus on the child who is grieving and give them plenty of space and time to talk. Consider saying something like: “I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you,” or “I wonder what this is like for you,” and then offer your time and attention as a good listener.
  • Allow emotional expression. Young people going through grief are often told to “be strong,” “toughen up,” or cover up their feelings. A more helpful intervention is to invite them to talk about their emotions as an important part of grieving. This may mean watching someone be angry, selfish, or grief struck. You can open the door to expression by saying: “Most people have strong feelings when something like this happens in their lives. Has that been true for you?” or “I wonder what kind of feelings you’re having about this,” and allow them to feel safe and validated in whatever their response may be.
  • Demonstrate empathy.Reflect back what you see the young person expressing directly or indirectly. It should be done with compassion, sincerity, and without judgment. Offer an opportunity for them to open up by saying something like, “What have the last few days been like for you?”
  • Stop harmful reactions when safety is a concern.You may find that some children react to grief with angry outbursts. Expressions such as these are natural and show a willingness to experience some of the deep feelings that accompany profound grief. You can allow grieving children to cry, shout, kick the floor, or throw down a book. However, if that behavior poses a risk to the grieving child or others, you do need to step in to help them stop.

What NOT to Say 

It’s hard to know what to say, especially when emotions run high, and sometimes we all make missteps when trying to find the right words in a difficult situation. But, even if said with the best of intentions.

  • “I know exactly what you are going through.” It is not possible to know what another individual is going through, especially in a matter as profound as the loss of a loved one. Even if you have lost family members, close friends, or a spouse, your own experience is as distinct as the children you teach.
  • “Both of my parents died when I was your age.” Avoid statements that compete with the child’s experiences of loss. The child who had one parent or a sibling die may feel their loss is not as meaningful if the focus is shifted to someone who has suffered even more. Referring to another individual who lost both parents last year may make children feel their situation is not as significant.
  • “My 15-year-old dog died last week. I feel very sad, too.” It is impossible to compare losses, and generally not useful to attempt to do so. As much as possible, keep your focus on the child’s own unique experience and need for support.
  • “You’ll need to be strong now for your family. It’s important to get a grip on your feelings.” Grieving children are often told they should not be expressive–that they need to grow up fast, keep it together for their family, manage their feelings, and not feel sorry for themselves. Don’t hold the child back from experiencing the deep feelings they are having, as that is an essential part of coping and adjusting.
  • “I know this must be difficult, but it’s important to remember the good things in life as well.” Your desire to cheer up a grieving child is understandable, but it may quiet their expressions of grief. Give them permission to fully experience and express their powerful feelings, to help them process their loss.
  • “You must be incredibly angry.” Anger is a natural reaction in the grief process, but it is impossible to know what someone is experiencing at any given time. Avoid projecting feelings onto your student. Suggesting that they ought to feel a certain way is not helpful. Instead, validate the idea that there is no one right way to feel.

The bottom line is to lead with your heart and be genuine, but always be mindful that your words and actions can make a difference and must be chosen carefully. The most important opportunity you can offer grieving children is that of expressing their thoughts and feelings fully. When children feel safe in accepting and expressing the full range of their intense emotions, that time of grieving can ultimately become a time of personal understanding and growth. But, in the moment of dealing with that significant loss, it is truly hard work for a child. You can be a lifeline in their day-to-day struggle of facing and emerging from grief. Be the one who “gets it.” Be the person who offers sensitive support and guidance, who helps the child navigate this difficult time and find their own path to peace.

Steven Connelly

Let’s Talk About Masculinity

There is much talk about violations, cruelty and brutality in the public discussion of war, but very little talk about men. Yet, factually speaking, it is mainly men who are the practitioners of organized violence as its ideologues, planners, technical designers, and its workforce at the sharp end.

So, why don’t we all talk about men, masculinity and male cultures of violence much more in the humanitarian world?

Academics have long discussed masculinity and violence in military sociology. Many others have now joined them from gender studies. The study of gang cultures in urban violence in the last few years has been explicitly focused on men and masculinity as drivers of that violence. But analysis of masculinity remains largely absent in the political, policy and media communities that come together around war.

Why the silence? Why aren’t men and masculinity called out much more as the main causes of the terrible abuses and tragedy of armed conflicts—its indiscriminate attacks, inhumane detention and sexual violence?

There seems to be a genuine emotional difficulty with the subject.

But, first, we need to be clear on the facts.

Mainly men

Is it mainly men who are responsible for the horrors of war? The answer is yes. The cultures and institutions that prepare for and deliver organized armed violence on behalf of the State or non-State armed groups are predominantly constructed by men, led by men and filled with men.

There have always been exceptions to this rule, as there are today, with women fighters at the frontline, senior women military strategists and women Heads of State who take their countries into war. In an increasing number of liberal militaries today, there is a determination to enable women to serve in the armed forces, which may lead to changes in the culture of war and, equally, may not. A majority of women often support war and can become full of loathing for their enemies. But still, the evidence tells us that it is mainly men who organize and deliver violence, and it usually has been.

It seems fair, therefore, to call men out on war—just so long as we also recognize that every act of restraint, compassion and lawfulness in the planning and delivery of violence in armed conflict is also likely to be the action of men. We need to remember that male warrior culture can be kind as well as cruel.

A difficult subject

Even if the evidence is clear, the subject seems difficult to raise. It is a painful subject for most of us because each of us—men and women—knows that although this fact of male violence is true, it is only one truth about men and only one truth about each man.

This all makes the masculinity of war difficult to talk about. Most of us do not want to paint men as predominantly violent. This would be unfair and risks stereotyping men into a corner from which they will probably fight their way out. We need a more nuanced and caring discussion—human to human. This is hard to do in the knock-about macho culture of public advocacy that is so frequently driven by the ‘outrage’ of both men and women in the advocacy set.

Law does not help much here. Talking about the violence and suffering of war in highly legal terms leads to public descriptions of armed conflict that can be abstract and gender neutral. Largely male behaviours are described remotely ias ‘violations’ and ‘abuses’ committed by ‘parties to conflict’. These legal terms are seldom attributed directly to men, when they usually should be. Legal speak often obscures rather than reveals the gendering of violence.

Suffering, on the other hand, is stereotyped as largely female today with a foregrounding of the pain of women and children. Some female focused policies of aid could verge on breaching the principle of impartiality, which is based on need alone, and not identity. But men suffer terribly in war as well, and many resist the mainly male violence of a conflict, and non-violently support the rescue and survival of their families.

Let’s talk about it—Masculinity and war

Let’s break the silence about mainly male violence. We can and should talk about men and masculinity in war, or even men and masculinity as war.

We can do this by owning the problem and creating a more honest and realistic policy discussion of masculinity and war, which can be carefully informed by psychology, ethics, sociology, biology and, of course, humanity.

Steven Connelly

Mental Health Resources and Organisations.

This is a range of Mental Health resources and organisations throughout Ayrshire and Scotland. This will always be available on my Twitter page to use whenever you need it !! Don’t suffer in silence, your not alone and it’s ok not to be ok.

Please retweet and let’s reach out to as many people as we possibly can.

MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

IRVINE – MINT (Men In Need Together)

IRVINE – MINT is a Men’s Mental Health support group is open for any man that is struggling in life, whether it’s a medical condition, a sad event that has happened or if you are just genuinely feeling down and out.

There is no problem too big or too small and all are welcome to join the amazing and supportive team every Monday evening. You can speak as much or as little as you wish, sometimes just listening to other men speak about their demons can enrich you with confidence to speak but that’s entirely up to you 💙

Join IRVINE – MINT for a laid back chat, some laughter every Monday evening, let’s talk.

Details are as follows:-

– Fullerton Connection

– Church Street

– Irvine

– North Ayrshire

– KA12 8PE

– 6:30 – 8:30 PM

– Completely free to attend

– Free tea/coffee and biscuits

Don’t leave your problems till it’s too late and join us and other attendees in a loving non-judgmental environment and let’s start this journey together 💚

#DontManUpSpeakUp

#ItsNotWeakToSpeak

#itsoknottobeok

Facebook: IRVINE – MINT

Fit Ayrshire Dads is an inspirational and a fastest growing community the first of its kind in the UK.

They have arrange a tremendous and a huge number and variety of activities throughout Ayrshire ranging from running, football, walk and talk events, OCR (Obstacle Course Races), cycling, cross-fit, bootcamps, yoga, badmington, hill walking – you name it, we do it, in a weekley basis.

There social media pages and posts are 100% positive – spamming others posts with “banter” and negativity is strictly prohibited. Only positivity is welcome at Fit Ayrshire Dads.

In there short time the group have helped numerous men, they have given them an outlet and a platform to pick themselves up mentally and physically – becoming more active, outgoing and healthy.

Chances are, if you are struggling, there is someone on the page who has been through or is still going through the same thing you are. On a daily basis, as a group Fit Ayrshire Dads are helping men of all ages and stages improve their mental and physical health through there weekley and planned activities.

If you (or someone you know) are struggling with your weight, a break-up, financially or you just generally feel like the world is crumbling around you. Please don’t suffer alone. Reach out, connect with Fit Ayrshire Dads on Facebook or Twitter and them us help you.

There community is all about making the men of Ayrshire feel a part of something whilst looking out for each other.

Break The Silence

Break The Silence is a registered charity in East Ayrshire.

It provides a range of tailored, holistic support options for Survivors of rape and childhood sexual abuse, aged 13 years.

Options for support include; one to one professional counselling using qualified Psychotherapists, outreach counselling, couple support, complementary therapies, advocacy, group activities, and volunteering opportunities.

All support is designed to assist Survivors to work through their trauma, move forward and improve their social well-being and psychological health,enabling and supporting Survivors to achieve an attainable standard of living, health and family life.

Break the Silence operate Monday to Friday 9am-4.30pm.

Contact: Tel: 01563 559558
Email (general enquiries): info@breakthesilence.org.uk

Moving on Ayrshire

Moving on Ayrshire is a charity based in Ayr which provides a counselling service at locations throughout South Ayrshire.

They offer survivors of sexual abuse and rape free one to one person-centred counselling in a safe environment which can enable them to address their issues and helps them work towards a healthier and happier future. In the immediate aftermath of rape they provide outstanding and personal centred support and counselling to help victims deal with the complex feelings and emotions that have resulted from their trauma.

Contact: 01292 290546 and speak to someone in confidence.

Rape Crisis Scotland runs a free helpline which offers free confidential support

Contact: 0141 331 4180

www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk

Survivor Scotland raise awareness of childhood abuse and of the long term consequences, help to improve the support services and enhance the health and wellbeing of survivors.

Contact: www.survivorscotland.org.uk

Police Scotland are committed to supporting survivors of rape and sexual abuse, irrespective of when the crime happened

To report a crime:  101

In an emergency:    999

www.scotland.police.uk/keep-safe/advice-for-victims-of-crime/sexual-crimes/help-for-victims-of-sexual-crime

Future Pathways supports people aged over 18 who experienced abuse or neglect as a child living in care in Scotland.  They offer access to a wide range of supports to help people find their own pathways to a positive future.

Contact: 0808 164 2005

www.future-pathways.co.uk

 South Ayrshire Womens Aid provide a confidential service that works towards prevention of domestic abuse

Contact: 01292 266482

www.southayrshirewomensaid.org.uk

 

South Ayrshire Council Child Protection

Social Work – emergency contact:  01292 267 675 (out of hours: 0800 811 505)

www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/contact/emergency

SAMH: SAMH is Scotland’s National Mental Health Organisation. This amazing charity works with adults and young people providing unique and essential mental health support in education establishments, and primary care services.

Contact: http://www.samh.org.uk

0141 530 1000

Victim Support – IRVINE

Is an independent charity, that work towards a world where people affected by crime or traumatic events get the support they need and the respect they deserve. They help people feel safer and find the strength to move beyond crime. There support is free, confidential and tailored to meet the of the clients.

Contact: www.victimsupport.org.uk/

01294 277 040

Victim Support Scotland.

Contact: www.victimsupport.org.uk/

0800 160 1985

NHS 24 – Scotland’s national Telehealth and Telecare organisation

Call free on 111 if you are ill and can’t wait until your regular NHS service reopens.

Adult Mental Health Service North Ayrshire – 01294 470010

East Ayrshire – 01563 578592

South Ayrshire – 01292 559777

Living Life – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) telephone service

Living Life is a free telephone service available to anyone over the age of 16 who is suffering from low mood, mild to moderate depression and/or anxiety.

Phone free on the confidential line 0800 328 9655 (Mon – Fri 1pm to 9pm). You will be asked to provide some details and then an assessment appointment will be arranged to discuss the service and how it can help.

Breathing Space

Breathing Space is a free and confidential phoneline service for people in Scotland, particularly men, who are experiencing low mood or depression and need someone to talk to.

Phone 0800 83 85 87 lines open 24hrs at weekends and 6pm to 2am (Mon – Thu)

Website: http://www.breathingspacescotland.co.uk

Samaritans

Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

Phone 116 123 (24-hour helpline)

Website: http://www.samaritans.org.uk

Childline

A private and confidential service for children and young people up to the age of 19.

Phone 0800 1111

Website: http://www.childline.org.uk

National Debt Line

A free, confidential debt advice service run by the charity Money Advice Trust.

Phone 0808 808 4000 (Mon – Fri 9am to 9pm, Sat 9:30am to 1pm)

Gamblers Anonymous Scotland

Phone 0370 050 8881 (24-hour helpline)

Website: http://www.gascotland.org

Alcoholics Anonymous

Phone 0845 769 7555 (24-hour helpline)

Website: http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk

Add Action – South Ayrshire

Providing support and encouragement to people struggling with alcohol and problematic substance abuse.

Contact: 01292 430 520

Www. Addaction.org.uk

Add Action – East Ayrshire

Contact: 01563 558 777

Talk to Frank

24-hour helpline offering information and advice to anybody concerned about drugs and substance misuse. Provides information about local services and support groups and national drug resources.

Phone 0300 123 6600 24-hour helpline

Website: http://www.talktofrank.com

Anxiety UK

A support group for those living with anxiety and anxiety-based depression.

Phone 08444 755 774

Website http://www.anxietyuk.org.uk

Release (Ayrshire)

A confidential resource for anyone to get in touch who are struggling and need to talk to experienced volunteers about anything.

http://www.facebook.com/ReleaseAyrshire.com

releaseayrshire@yahoo.com

Minds Over Matter

A local group that meets up in various locations in South Ayrshire offering a range of services to help people with their overall mental health and well being

contact@minds-over-matter.co.uk

HOME

Facebook: minds over matter

A New Hope

A community group meeting weekly in North Ayrshire if your feeling hopeless or lost or just need a chat free of judgement

Facebook: A new Hope

Twitter: @ANewHopeMaleMe1

Suicides of Young People

When a young person’s life is tragically cut short by suicide, the impact is catastrophic – completely devastating families and affecting the lives of many others who knew them.

While there is clearly a public interest in reporting youth suicides and suicide clusters, it’s important for journalists to be aware that young people who are affected by suicide – for example a death at their school or university – are at increased risk of suicide contagion.

Studies have shown that people who are bereaved by suicide are at increased risk of suicide themselves. A large body of evidence exists which links certain types of media reporting to an increase in suicide rates.

Deaths of young people by suicide are more likely to be reported.

Suicides by young people under the age of 25 account for 11% of all suicide deaths in the UK. However, these deaths are far more extensively covered in the news compared to other age groups.

Youth suicides are frequently reported in a more sensational way. This could include romanticised language, lots of photographs of the young people or person who has died, outpourings of grief and memorials, and often, intense speculation on possible causes. 

Young people can be especially vulnerable

For young people, the risk of influencing suicidal behaviour is greater for a number of reasons, including them being:

▪ more influenced by what they see and hear in the media than other groups

▪ increased risk of imitative suicidal behaviour

▪ increased risk of suicide contagion if they’ve been affected by suicide

▪ more likely to behave spontaneously

▪ less likely to have gained the level of emotional maturity which helps us to see a way through problems encountered in life (an issue like relationship breakdown or academic failure, can feel all-consuming and never-ending, increasing the likelihood of these experiences feeling overwhelming)

▪ less likely to fully understand the permanency of suicide – increasing their risk of suicide ideation and contagion. Suicide is a very permanent response to what are typically temporary problems.

Give extra consideration

In my opinion and experience please give extra consideration to reports covering suicidal behaviour by young people including attempts, deaths and inquests. 

In addition, language and tone are important. Carefully consider the inclusion of comments posted on social media sites, as these can sometimes inadvertently romanticise suicidal behaviour. Examples include: “Heaven’s gained another angel” and “You’re at peace now”.

Extra care should be taken around speculation of causes. For example, when a suicide death is reported and bullying is cited as the cause, it’s helpful to consider the impact on other young people who could be experiencing bullying and may feel hopeless about their own situation – stories including how a young person took their life, lots of photographs, outpourings of grief, revenge messages directed at bullies – can increase the likelihood of others identifying with the person who has died and could lead to suicide contagion.

It’s particularly important to be aware of the risk of inadvertently promoting the idea of achieving something through death which didn’t seem possible in life. This could encourage the idea of suicide to another young person who is vulnerable and make it feel like a suitable option for them too.

Reducing the risk

With young readers in mind

▪ avoid giving details of the suicide method

▪ bear in mind that suicide is complex and rarely, if ever, as a result of a single cause

▪ avoid showing photographs of others who have died

▪ stick with a factual tone – publish a respectful tribute piece, focusing on the tragic loss of life without overly romanticising a suicide death

▪ remind your audience that suicide is preventable and signpost people to sources of support (see the bottom of this blog for examples)

This is not about censoring or an attempt to brush the topic of suicide under the carpet. I personally do not believe that suicides by young people, or indeed any age group, should not be covered in the press. It is simply about giving extra consideration about how these stories are covered because of the extra vulnerabilities of young people.

The media can raise awareness

The media can play an important role in raising awareness of the issues surrounding suicidal behaviour and supporting national efforts to reduce the number of suicides in the UK.

Highlighting the importance of talking and encouraging people to reach out and seek help can help to reduce suicides and there is a growing area of literature which suggests that responsible reports of suicide, such as stories which promote suicide prevention messages and encourage people to seek help, can reach out to people and help prevent suicides.

The media help raise awareness of the issues surrounding suicide, highlighting:

▪ the type of problems which may lead a person to become vulnerable to suicide

▪ the signs which may indicate they are struggling to cope

▪ remind people who may be vulnerable that suicide is not inevitable, it is preventable

▪ encourage help-seeking behaviour by promoting the benefits of talking and signposting sources of support.

A powerful way to spread these vital messages can be through real life stories of people who have reached a difficult time in their life.

People call Samaritans for free any time on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, or visit http://www.samaritans.org to find details of their nearest branch.

Call Breathing Space: 0800 83 85 87 or visit http://www.breathingspace.scot for more information.

Steven Connelly

Self Harm: Helping Men and Young People to Access Support.

I’m writing this blog as somebody who has struggled and suffered with self-harm for over 17 years now.

Every year during self-harm awareness day in March, self harm keeps receiving more and more attention, but there is still a long way to go.

There’s a lot of research out there about self-harm; statistics show that the UK has one of the highest rates in Europe. We know that it is particularly prevalent among young people, and it is generally thought that more girls self-harm than boys. However, self-harm is a very difficult thing to research accurately, because so many people keep it secret. This is even more the case for young men, who are less likely to open up about their emotional and mental lives.

So what do we actually know about young men who harm themselves?

The biggest difference, it seems, is that males are far less likely to seek help following self-harming. This includes general support, such as seeing their GP or using internet support forums, but also necessary physical treatment. Young men are less likely to go to hospital (even for serious cuts or overdoses), and if they do go, they are more likely to claim it was an accident. This is very concerning, not just because of the physical risk, but because they will not have a chance to talk about their problems or get support for their mental health.

Like females who self-harm, most males harm themselves to reduce emotional pain or distress.  However, research suggests that males tend to use self-harm as a last resort for coping with difficulties in their lives. As a result, they are more likely to use drugs or alcohol at the same time, or hurt themselves using violent methods. Despite this, they may not see self-harm as a problem. In fact, a lot of young men say they harm themselves in order to fit in with their friends. This is a really big deal: not only are young men more likely to keep their problems quiet until they reach breaking point, they may actually think it is okay to self-harm because their peers accept it.

But does any of this mean we should support men who self-harm differently from women? In many respects, it doesn’t. Most things which can be done to support those who self-harm do not depend on whether the person is male, female, transgender or otherwise. Such things might include telling the person that you do not judge them, letting them contact you when they are struggling, or providing them with ideas to distract themselves from self-harm.

However, it is key to bear in mind that a young man may feel less able to open up or see their self-harm as a problem. This does not mean encouraging them to quit self-harming before they feel ready, or telling them that what they are doing is wrong. It just means encouraging them that it is okay to talk, and emphasising how important it is to get treatment for self-harm. Knowing where to turn for help can be a long process for anybody, and for young men, the road to recovery may have a few more obstacles in the way.  However, by simply being kind and encouraging openness, hopefully those obstacles can be broken down a little quicker.

Steven Connelly