Coping with a Covid Christmas

With the last minute restrictions on Christmas celebrations, perhaps this is a fitting end to a most extraordinary year. And 2021 promises to be another year of uncertainty and challenge. So I thought I’d share this very shortened version of an ancient Chinese parable to reflect on: 

Books Alive! week

Thanks to some funding from the Portsmouth Lottery, we’re celebrating stories of diversity from our inspirational Books Alive! volunteers.

So why not join us for our Books Alive! week? We’ll be sharing an interview with one of our volunteers at 4pm each day, starting on Monday 14 December. These will be livestreamed on our Facebook page and on our YouTube channel

Stories of Asylum during WW1

We’re hosting a second online launch event on Saturday 5 December at 10.30am. This is entitled ‘100 years of Mental Health Care in Hampshire’.
Carolyn Barber will talk about the outcomes of our 2017 project and exhibition. Carolyn will be joined by Maggie Sawkins, reading poems created from shared memories,  and Pip Firth, reading from her grandfather’s personal accounts of his experiences in World War 1.

History, health and hope

At the 11th hour of the 11th  day of the 11th month, the armistice was signed which formally ended hostilities of the First World War in 1918.  Remembrance Day is an opportunity to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts. Of course, the casualties that are often forgotten are those who experienced serious mental ill-health as a result of their military service, and also ordinary people caught up in traumatic events through these conflicts.

Mental Health For All

Saturday 10 October, was World Mental Health Day!

The theme this year is ‘Mental Health For All’, and it couldn’t be more relevant at a time when coronavirus has highlighted how much our mental health means to all of us.

I’ve done countless group workshops where I ask what words people associate with mental health. Invariably the answers are words like depression, madness, stress, mental illness, psychiatric hospitals. And then when I ask about the term ‘good mental health’, words like happiness, wellbeing, fulfilment, achieving things, active, motivated … come up.

Never Give Up Hope

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come”
Anne Lamott

We’ve now reached another turning point in the Covid 19 pandemic with the re-introduction of further restrictions on close contact with others. So it seems timely to re-visit the idea of psychological resilience, and in particular the principle of hope.

Help Prevent Suicide!

At the weekend the University of Sheffield shared this series of 13 short films as part of their Festival of the Mind.

Based on the book Our Encounters with Suicide (ed. Fran Biley, Alex Grant, Judith Haire, Brendan Stone), Kathryn and Penny Capper’s films explore the impact of suicide in the wider community. Giving voice to diverse perspectives and experiences, the Suicide Monologues aims to challenge taboos and generate discussion around a complex subject that’s generally not talked about.

Time to Experiment with Change?

Among the many news and research updates I follow to try and keep myself up to date, is a national research programme seeking to understand the psychological and social impact of the Covid 19 pandemic. The research study is being carried out by University College London to explore the effects of the virus and social distancing measures on adults in the UK. Over 70,000 participants fill in a weekly survey to share their views and experiences.

The Bare Necessities …

The coronavirus lockdown measures have now officially pushed the UK into an economic recession following the biggest slump on record during April to June this year. A Briefing Paper for the House of Commons said:

“Consumers may be reluctant to return to ‘normal’ spending patterns. This may be due to health concerns but also perhaps due to concerns over their income. A key factor will be how high unemployment levels rise. Particularly important is how many employees currently furloughed will return to work and how many will become unemployed. Uncertainty may also dampen businesses’ inclination to invest.”

Spotlight on Mental Health

International research is now telling us a lot more about the impact of Covid 19 on our mental health, and the picture is not good. What does the research tell us about those who are less stressed, depressed or anxious? There’s a lot we can’t control about the current situation, so what can we control?