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“Hi, how are you?” Most of us start the working day by asking how colleagues are doing, but we may not expect an honest answer. What would you do if a colleague replied: “I’m struggling with my mental health.” Would you feel able to respond? Or worried you may say the wrong thing?
For years I was a first aider in a busy office, dealing with everything from nosebleeds to chest pain and stroke. My training gave me the confidence to get involved and the knowledge to decide whether I needed paramedics. People often said I handled these incidents well, but mostly I just provided calm, compassionate support until the professionals arrived.
These days I give first aid training in the workplace – but for the mind, not the body.
First aid for physical health has been around for a century, but only in recent decades has something similar emerged for mental wellbeing. Originating in Australia, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a programme which came to England in 2007.
Most mental health situations in the workplace won’t be an emergency. Making a difference to a colleague who’s struggling is easier than you might think and small acts of compassion can make a huge difference.
So what do these first aiders do? Often they do very simple things.
Somebody finding the start of the working day a little difficult, might welcome a friendly face at the bus stop or a bit of company on the walk to the office. A person with anxiety may appreciate you volunteering a desk swap so that they can sit somewhere quieter. A chat in a café at lunchtime or over a cup of tea can offer someone who’s depressed a chance to say how they are really feeling, something they may not often get the chance to do.
One of the most helpful things anyone ever did for me was assist me to rearrange my “to do list” so that I felt less overwhelmed. Even those who are mentally well can help themselves keep things that way by building their resilience to stress and anxiety.
Simple strategies like buddying up for walks in the park or encouraging each other to leave work at a reasonable time can help nip workplace stress in the bud.
Mental health first aiders are trained to deal with common problems like anxiety or depression, through to more urgent situations like psychosis (when somebody is no longer in touch with reality) or suicidal thoughts.
I taught a group recently in which an HR officer had signed up because of an incident at work. She’d been asked to speak to an employee who immediately burst into tears in front of her. She had wanted to help him, but was afraid of getting it wrong and making things worse.
In training sessions, participants often say they’re concerned they may not be the right person for the task. My fellow trainer John and I are both mental health service users and know how important it is that mental health is dealt with sensitively, but we believe participants already have what it takes to perform this role.
One in four people experience a mental health problem, yet we are often afraid of discussing the topic. As Poppy Jarman, CEO of MHFA England, says, “The fear surrounding mental ill health and the misunderstanding around recovery is one of the biggest barriers for creating mentally fit workplaces.
“We just need to talk about mental health in the same way as we do physical health,” she says, “but that can only be done if the culture of the workplace is set up in a way where mental health is promoted and there is empathy.”
I really want to help develop that workplace culture of openness and empathy, because too many people with mental health conditions end up taking long-term sick leave or losing their jobs.
I would like to see every office have somebody trained in mental health first aid alongside physical first aiders, and according to MHFA England this is already starting to happen. And that means that more of the time when someone opens up in the workplace, a colleague will step forward and choose to keep that all-important conversation going.
Charlotte Walker has bipolar disorder and blogs about her experiences here.
People learn NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming because it gives them the tools and the insights to…
By the way, this is not an objective evaluation of the benefits of NLP. I’m too close to the subject. My name is Rod Beau and I am happy to declare that I am quite biased.
I have been using NLP for over three decades, I’ve used NLP in my work as an educator and pilot as well as in my coaching practise for over 30 years. I regularly teach people how to use NLP , I use it in my own life all the time and I am, if anything, more enthusiastic about its potential now than when I first came across it all those years ago.
It is, after all ‘the study of subjective experience’. It is a way of understanding how each of us experiences life. And of understanding ourselves and others in a deeper way. And it’s a whole lot of other things as well.
If you use NLP to enhance, say, your spiritual awareness then that is NLP – for you. The same applies if you use it
Whatever you use it for and however you use it determines what, exactly NLP means for you and what you get out of it.
Just as it was in the case of NLP, the inventor of electricity had no idea how the invention would transform the world. Nor did its early developers. Just as with NLP, it would not be easy to describe ‘electricity’ comprehensively and accurately to someone who had never encountered it. For example, do you describe it in terms of how it originated? Or what produces it? Or what one can do with it (provide power for lighting, electric chairs, heart monitors in hospitals, etc.)? Or do you try to find concrete analogies to get across the abstract idea of electricity?
Because wherever electricity comes from, wherever you encounter it, however it is produced it is still measurably ‘electricity’.
But how one person, with a particular background, with a particular set of beliefs and values, and with a particular set of objective uses NLP is likely to distinctly different from how it would be used by someone else.
There will be similarities in how they go about things but neither is ‘doing NLP’ – they are using NLP to enhance how they do what they do.
To many people the range of applications for NLP is surprising ad even confusing.
It seems strange that the same process can help you relate better to your loved ones, enhance your professional performance, improve your golf or tennis game, and enable you to teach your child to spell or study.
However, as you soon discover on becoming familiar with this ‘technology’, there are no really limits to the range of applications for NLP or the areas in your life which can benefit from it.
It is universally useful because it provides you with the means to improve your overall effectiveness – rather than offering specific skills to achieve specific results (such as a meditation technique to calm yourself or an assertiveness technique for communicating).
With NLP you learn to think generatively rather than remedially. You learn to look for newer and more creative approaches to life’s challenges rather just trying to fix what is not working.
And, especially as you progress through your sessions with me you will find that you can use NLP simultaneously in a number of contexts.
For example, at the same time as you are moving towards your principal goal you can be applying NLP to boost your darts or cricket or windsurfing performance (and enjoyment), learn a foreign language, teach your child how to better get along with class mates, or have more fun in your life.
You learn precise step-by-step methods for improving how you think, experience life through your five senses, understand people, relate with people and do whatever it is that you do – in work or play. So there are unlikely to be limits to the range of applications for your NLP or to the areas in your life which can benefit.
Smoking is a very controversial topic and in many social circles it is totally unacceptable. Many people are against smoking because of the proven health implications that could eventually lead to a heart attack or other diseases. To become a non smoker has many benefits. Do you want to stop smoking? Did you know that nicotine is found in a number of plants and acts as anti herbivore chemical? Therefore nicotine was widely used as an insecticide in the past. Nicotine sulfate sold for use as a pesticide is labelled “DANGER,” indicating that it is highly toxic. So if animals don’t eat the plants filled with nicotine and it was used as an insecticide, it is understandable why many people want to stop smoking.
Poisons in cigarettes Your health is the most valuable asset that you have. When you stop smoking your body will thank you for it. The long list of health issues that arise from smoking not only affects your lungs, but also your mouth, skin and other vital organs. It has been proven many times that smoking causes cancer and increases your risk of getting cancer by at least 10 to 15 times. Smoking can cause lung diseases like asthma and emphysema. Did you know that cigarettes contain over 4000 chemicals and each chemical has their own negative impact on the body? That alone is a great reason to stop smoking. Nicotine is addictive and increases cholesterol levels in your body. Smoking can also lead to cardiovascular diseases which causes the hardening of the arteries. This develops of years and in time cholesterol and other fats collect in the arteries and when the arteries become narrower it can cause blood clots.
Smoking deprives the skin of oxygen and nutrients which can leave your complexion pale and an uneven skin tone. The harmful chemicals in cigarettes can cause the destruction of collagen and elastin, the fibres that gives your skin the elasticity and strength. After a few years of smoking you will also notice that smoking stains your fingers and nails. When you quit, these stains disappear with time. Maybe the most noticeable sign of excessive smoking is the deep wrinkles on your face, especially around the lips, mouth and eyes. When you stop smoking you may not see all the wrinkles suddenly disappear, but will sure help to not hurry the aging process. Smokers age much faster than non smokers. Is it time to stop smoking yet?
You consistently hear about the rise in petrol, oil, alcohol and of course tobacco products. Have you ever wondered how much you spend on making yourself age faster and putting poison into your body? At an average price of R25 a box (in April 2013), smoking one box a day, that equates to about R750 a month. Over a year it comes to R9000, and over five years at least R45 000. That does not take into consideration any price increases over the 5 year period. What if you invested that amount of money over the same period? Not only would you earn interest, be healthier and look younger, but you could have used that money doing things with your family or children. Want to stop smoking yet?
In just 20 minutes your heart rate and blood pressure returns to normal. After 12 hours the oxygen levels in your blood have increased to normal. Within the first week of quitting, the tiny cilia in your lungs start growing back. Cilia are the microscopic hair-like projections that cover air ways and the inside of your lungs. Their function is to keep the airways clear of mucus. After a month your risk of having a heart attack drops drastically. Nicotine has a half life of 2 hours. That means that after 2 hours, 50% of the nicotine is out of your system. After 72 hours your body can be nicotine free. Nicotine activates the bodies fight or flight response and as such pumps the body with stored fats and sugars to give us energy. This is why people who smoke can skip meals without experiencing low blood sugar and getting moody or irritable. It is important to eat often, health small meals. This will help you to keep your blood sugar up and help to reduce cravings for cigarettes.
Nearly 35 million people want to stop smoking each year. Unfortunately more than 85 percent of those who try to quit smoking on their own relapse within a week. To stop smoking by yourself is not easy, especially if you have been smoking for years. The good news is that it is totally possible to stop smoking with hypnosis and hypnotherapy . There are various other options available whereby people use fake cigarettes, patches or pills. Using those methods, you still get nicotine into your body. The companies that make these products want you to use them so they can make money from your dependency. Why drag out your rehabilitation over weeks or months, when after 72 hours all nicotine will be out of your body? Hypnosis is a very effective way to stop smoking.