Andrew Colvin works as a Health Improvement Practitioner Specialist as part of the integrated wellbeing service in Northumberland and here he offers some tips for managing mental health.
Our focus is on providing specialist health improvement support and training to local organisations and individuals, with the aim of reducing health inequalities and improving the health and wellbeing of those living or working in Northumberland.
I have worked with the NHS for more than 10 years now, having first started on fixed term contract as a health trainer to support exercise programmes for staff and patients. Wellbeing has always a passion of mine – physical and mental – so being able to support individuals as part of my job is extremely rewarding.
As a specialist, my portfolio is Mental Health which includes delivering training such as Adult Mental Health First Aid, Youth Mental Health First Aid and Suicide Awareness.
We all have mental health, just as we all have our physical health but probably the biggest challenge is the stigma regarding mental health. We don’t tend to know how to take care of our mental health in the same way as we would with our physical health.
My training aims to tackle this stigma and provide people with the skills and confidence to support a friend, family member or colleague who may be experiencing mental health issues or understanding where to go for support for their own wellbeing.
Of course the Pandemic has impacted our lives in many ways which may cause us to feel anxious, stressed, worried or sad but it’s important to remember it is OK to feel this way. Everyone reacts differently and for most of us, these difficult feelings will pass.
Three tips I regularly give are:
- Stay connected with family, friends or colleagues.
- Look after your physical wellbeing as this can impact on how we feel. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and exercise regularly. Avoid smoking and try not to drink too much alcohol.
- Look after your sleep, good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how we feel mentally and physically, so it’s important to get enough and maintain regular sleeping patterns
As a direct result of Covid-19 and the limitations this brings on face to face meetings, all the training I deliver has now moved to virtual platforms like MS Teams and zoom.
This had to happen very quickly during the first lockdown but as daunting as it was, I feel it has been a great success and makes our training a lot more accessible. It’s actually been evaluating very well.
We all have different learning styles so mental health first aid has moved to a mix of individual learning which includes workbooks, videos, quizzes and then facilitated live sessions. Sessions include depression, anxiety, suicide, self-harm and psychosis.
If you would like more information about the Integrated Wellbeing Service and what we offer, visit our website.