Depression Awareness Week -keep the campaigns going

whatyoudontsee-768x768Darker than grief, an implosion of the self, a sheet of ice: no matter how you describe it, this is a terrifying state to be trapped in Tim Lott, The Guardian Tuesday 19th April 2016.

This week is Depression Awareness Week. Perhaps, when there are so many ‘awareness’ days, weeks and now months, we start to take less notice of individual campaigns? ‘Compassion fatigue’ is described by some as a willingness to be supportive, but with so many causes to support it becomes more difficult. It is hard to focus on one campaign without feeling guilty about all the others you cannot give your time, and often money, to.

It is vital that we resist that fatigue when it comes to our mental health, however. For many years, the stigma attached to depression, anxiety and other mental health issues was such that no-one felt able to discuss their issues openly. There is still a long way to go before that stigma has entirely disappeared, but here at the Terrace we are definitely noticing that many more people feel able to open up and take steps to address their, often lifelong, needs. From childhood trauma, to PTSD and relationship problems and across the whole mental health spectrum there is an increased willingness to seek help.

Our mental health impacts directly on our physical health, so an holistic, whole body approach to some physical illnesses can work wonders; yet the NHS struggles to bring together services that could, in the end, save money. It seems a vicious circle.

Depression is particularly damaging because it is largely invisible. Often people mask their symptoms, at great cost. It can be exhausting to hide your true feelings. This is why campaigns such as the #whatyoudontsee social media campaign run by the fabulous Blurt Foundation this week are so important. Depression can literally hit anyone, at any time. Young or old, regardless of gender and personal life – the number of sports stars, television celebrities and film stars opening up prove that even wealth and fame are not protective factors.

So seek help. Join in the online campaigns. Approach your GP, or contact us here at The Terrace (we have great counsellors and psychotherapists, as well as mindfulness and complementary therapists), and most importantly talk about the issues you are experiencing.

In a fast-paced consumer-driven society we are all searching for meaning in a life we know in our heart to be finite.

 

 

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Mental health in rural communities: A farmer’s life

Farmer depressedLast week, officials from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) agreed to pursue the development of a mental health strategy for the farming industry, prompted by David Simpson MP, who demanded government intervention to deal with the specific mental strains that farmers face.

Despite appearances – the rolling fields, animals peacefully grazing and fields of crops lighting up the landscape, farming is a very high-pressure job, with few days off, round the clock working and the pressures of the market.We have seen in Somerset the additional pressures placed on those who are largely responsible for managing our landscape. Flooding on the levels devastated many and TB in cattle is an ongoing concern.

Most farmers are male, and as we have written about on this web site, men are far less likely to discuss their personal problems and are statistically much more likely to commit suicide than women.  Hours alone in the fields, isolation both physical and mental and the additional burden of running a business in tough times  can exacerbate mental health problems and the social isolation can mean that others fail to notice the symptoms until it is too late. There are particular difficulties in accessing support in counties such as Somerset, where stretched services are concentrated in urban areas, but there are some organisations that are devoted to working specifically with the farming community. These include:

The Farming Community Network  which can take calls between 7am and 11pm, with those answering having specific knowledge of rural issues..

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (R.A.B.I.), which helps farmers and farmworkers of any age if financial issues are causing strain.

And of course there are mental health charities such as Young Minds, Mind, Sane and Time to Change which can offer support for those experiencing depression and anxiety and many other mental health issues.

The BBC Countryfile magazine website has a particularly good article HERE

So if you or anyone you know works in the agricultural industry, it is a good idea to be specially alert to the symptoms of depression and take care of emotional as well as physical well-being. Do get in touch with us here at The Terrace if you think we can help. We are always happy to talk through the options available.

 

‘Open Day’ Fundraiser for St Margaret’s Hospice

open dayHere at The Terrace we adopt a charity each year and over the 12 months our therapists work to raise as much money as possible, usually at special events that offer those who come along and hand over their hard earned cash the opportunity to try a therapy they might never have considered before.

This year we are fundraising for a charity that is held in great affection across Somerset. St Margaret’s Hospice is a charity that cares for people with any life-limiting illness. More than 1000 people volunteer to support the wonderful medical staff who last year cared for around 3,200 people, most often in their own homes. They offer everything from in-patient care to complementary therapies and day care and support not only the patient but their family too.

So, we are keen to help. To that end we are having an ‘Open Day’ on  6th May 2016, at which seven of our therapists will be giving their time for free so that those that book sessions know that ALL of the £30 they give will go to St Margaret’s. There will be three psychotherapists – Jane Gotto, Helena Trump and Su Stokes – who work with individuals, couples and families; Sandra Abrahams who offers reflexology and hopi ear candling; Nicki Withers, a cranio-sacral therapist; Sarah Sellick who offers massage therapy and Kate Weeks, a specialist in the Bowen technique.

Getting involved is simple. Click on the image or HERE to see what is available, call us on 01823 338968 or email post@the-terrace.co.uk to check availability and to book and after paying in advance (we have to ensure we do everything to avoid ‘no shows’ on the day, to raise as much money as possible) simply turn up and know you have done something really worthwhile – supporting your own well-being and that of others.

So thank you in advance! Over the course of 2016 we will undertake to raise as much as we can for what is a terrific local charity.

 

 

More poetry as therapy- Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

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Image: Joe Ism (see below)

In therapy, many counsellors work with clients who perhaps feel ‘stuck’ in a pattern of recurring behaviours that prevent them from fulfilling dreams, pursuing healthy relationships, or coping with challenges and developing resilience. Reading inspirational quotes on social media highlights how many famous sayings there are on the subject of living a mindful life, of noticing and recognising the world around you and working to free yourself from a past that can hold you back, or a future you are fearful of.

However, there is one poem that seems to sum up this process in a way that perhaps only poetry can, in its ability to distil feelings to the minimum number of words necessary to express them. We have written quite a few ‘poetry for mindfulness pieces on ‘let’s talk’ – do take a look as you may find another that suits your mindfulness practice perfectly – but this popular piece, by Portia Nelson is one that requires little explanation.

Portia_Nelson

Portia nelson

Nelson was a popular singer, songwriter, actress, and author; a cancer survivor who  wrote a very popular  book called There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery, which she later turned into a musical that played off Broadway. From it comes this poem, Autobiography in Five Short Chapters, which has been adopted by many as a as a self-help text. Its clear message is one of learning to take notice, recognise when you are repeating harmful behaviour and learn to move forward on to new paths of discovery…

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson

Chapter I
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

Chapter II
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V
I walk down another street.

We would love to know of any poetry that you find particularly inspirational, or especially helpful when you are practising mindfulness. Get in touch!

Image: Joe Ism on Flickr  Open Manhole Cover

‘let’s talk!’ about EMDR

1380742651emdr client_250by150A therapy we have recently been asked to feature on ‘let’s talk’ is known by the acronym EMDR. This stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing and it was developed as a psychological therapy by American clinical psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro, in the 1980s. Dr Shapiro also published the first research papers supporting the benefits of the therapy in the 1989.

EMDR is a technique that has been found to be helpful for those suffering from:

  • accident or injury
  • assault
  • depression
  • anxiety or panic
  • fears and phobias
  • childhood trauma and abuse
  • post traumatic stress
  • low self-esteem
  • illness

Negative experiences in life can lead to overwhelming feelings that the brain is unable to process  and make sense of, resulting in the memory being  frozen or ‘stuck’. The memories are stored  alongside associated thoughts, emotions and sensations, so when for some reason the memory is recalled the person experiences the full range of sensations associated with the original event – even to the smell, the taste and the feelings they had at the time. Often the event is repressed to avoid constantly experiencing the distress of recall.

The goal of EMDR is to facilitate the processing of disturbing and isolated memories. In the process these distressing memories seem to lose their intensity, thus becoming less distressing and more like ‘ordinary’ memories. This reduces the distress and offers insight into the experience and any  subsequent negative thoughts.

The way EMDR works in practice is by stimulation of the ‘frozen’ (or blocked) information processing system. This is achieved by activating both sides of the brain using eye movements or taps alternating across left-right sides of the body.

How the effect is produced is not certain, but it is believed to be similar to when your eyes rapidly move from side to side during natural REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) .

Research has shown benefits, particularly to those suffering from PTSD and is also recommended by The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).

You can learn more about what to expect from the EMDR Association.

We have a skilled EMDR therapist working here at The Terrace. Registered clinical psychologist Karen Green has many years experience across a number of different psychological therapies, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), family work, psychotherapy and EMDR, and can tailor an approach to suit the needs of each client. If you would like to know more, contact us today for a confidential discussion and to see how Karen might be able to help you . Email post@the-terrace.co.uk or telephone 01823 338968.

Domestic abuse: can ‘Drive’ change perpetrator behaviour?

imagesHere at The Terrace we have a focus on couples work, and were interested to hear reports yesterday that some men, deemed to pose a high risk of domestic violence, will be given therapy on a one to one basis in order to address their abusive behaviour. Called ‘Drive’, the initiative is currently restricted to three pilot areas – Essex, Sussex and South Wales – but if successful it will be rolled out across the country. It is estimated that 900 of the most ‘dangerous’ offenders (those deemed at risk of causing serious bodily harm, or committing murder) will be asked to take part in the scheme over the next three years.

At the moment, perpetrators are asked to take part in group work or family therapy. In the new scheme, they will be given bespoke one-to-one sessions, given support to tackle any alcohol, drug or mental health problems they experience and offered advice on employment, housing and parenting issues. If they refuse to take part they will be ‘closely monitored’ by police and any necessary legal steps take to prevent further offending behaviours.

It has been acknowledged that the most serious perpetrators need to be targeted to ensure they do not go from victim to victim without changing their behaviour. Domestic abuse charities Respect and SafeLives are supporting the initiative, whilst the charity Refuge has doubts, considering there to be no evidence that this type of therapy has any effect.

On the BBC website Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, is quoted as saying:

“On the face of it, it seems like a worthy thing to do. In an ideal world we would approach this from both sides. But we don’t live in an ideal world…..We live in a world where thousands and thousands of women and children are being terrorised and brutalised in their homes and they have nowhere to go. And sadly, finding a refuge space in this country is like finding gold dust.”

Her counterpart at SafeLives, Diana Barran, disagrees:

“Despite significant improvements for victim safety in the UK there are still 100,000 women who live with high-risk domestic abuse at any one time……If you do not hold perpetrators to account, we will continue to see the statistics at a standstill.

“Focusing on crisis management is of course vital but we want to help victims today and reduce the number of victims of tomorrow – and we can only do this by getting to the root and the cause of the problem – the perpetrator.”

Critics expressed concern that the most dangerous offenders are often the most manipulative, and will be able to convince professionals they are changing whilst continuing the abuse behind the closed doors of their homes, or will wait till they are deemed ‘safe’ and move on to another victim.

The issue of domestic abuse is one that we will follow closely here at The Terrace. It does not only affect adult relationships, but the future life hopes of any children of the relationship too, many of whom suffer lifelong trauma and are vulnerable to repeat behaviours.We would be interested to hear your views.

If you or anyone you know needs more information or support, the following links will take you through to people who can help.

Respect

Refuge

SafeLives

For BBC Report see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35591041

‘Let’s talk!’ – about mens’ mental health

iStock_000029384684MediumWe have written before about the difficulties men face when they are experiencing mental health issues. It is nearly a year since we wrote of the Mental Health Charter for Sport & Recreation in Boys Don’t Cry and since then we have seen periodic moves to raise awareness of suicides amongst young men, for example. Yet the situation hardly seems to change.

So why do men find it harder to seek help when they are experiencing difficulties, often so serious that they are considering ending it all? Is it that their issues relate specifically to being male?

There is still, even in the 21st century, an expectation that the man is the one on whom others rely. He will sort out problems, practical or otherwise. From toddlerhood a boy is discouraged from expressing his emotions in a healthy way – ‘boys don’t cry” or ‘act like a man’ are phrases many still hear, and thus when they are faced with problems they can’t solve, perhaps in young adulthood, they are more likely to feel they have failed as a man. A culture of silence amongst their contemporaries means few of them realise how common these feelings are.

Jane Gotto, Director here at The Terrace, says:

“Yes, men are at a crossroads and the question of how to be a ‘good man’ has changed and the parameters are different.   Mainly our culture does still support the expectation that men should be strong, shouldn’t cry, nor share feelings of being vulnerable or having difficulty.    This leaves some men without a way to process their feelings, or even acknowledge what’s happening for them, which can create isolation and alienation.   From there, the difficulty can escalate with other behaviours to cover the difficult feelings – increased drinking, excessive work or exercise, sexualised behaviour, drugs etc…”

Research has suggested that men sometimes feel better taking part in active therapy, such as art, music or horticultural sessions rather than direct one to one therapy sessions. It was also deemed important to ensure men didn’t have to take time off work to attend sessions as work was something that held many together, and when working in a stereotypically macho atmosphere many were reluctant to express their feelings openly. Some felt that mental health services were geared around ‘women’s problems’ and whether true or not that has to be a perception that is changed if we are to see any progress.

Rupert CounsellorFrom the articles and reports that have come out in recent months it is clear that there are specific issues men struggle with, including drinking increased amounts of alcohol and other addictive behaviours. The Charter for Sport and Recreation works to remove the stigma around men’s mental health by raising awareness of the problems well-known sports stars have faced. Cricketer Andrew Flintoff and footballer Clarke Carlisle have been frank about their problems, and now we regularly hear leaders in their sporting fields speaking about mental health. But there is still much work to be done. Jane Gotto says:

“22 years ago, when I founded The Terrace, very few men sought counselling support.  This has significantly changed with men seeking support for themselves and for their relationships in more recent years. Some men have been able to carve out a supportive network with mind liked men.     However encouraging this is, more needs to be provided and more needs to be said.”

In 2015, a documentary was shown on BBC3 in which Stephen Manderson, better known as British rap artist Professor Green, allowed cameras to follow him as he sought to find out why his father had committed suicide eight years ago.  Manderson said:

“At the end of the day suicide is a violent end. It’s the taking of a life……It’s violent, irrespective of the method, so it’s hard to talk about and it’s scary. Shying away from it is not going to do any good, though.”

He went on:

“The documentary was actually the first time me and my grandmother talked about it…. it is difficult. It’s not something even family like to talk about. It’s really hard.”

Manderson (Professor Green) went on to make a second program, showing where people can get support, including the work of The Maytree, a centre where people can go when they have suicidal feelings.

In an article about the documentary, published in The Guardian on 27th October last year, Rory O’Connor, professor at Glasgow University, highlighted the deep-rooted nature of male suicide:

“The bottom line is, we as men, are not socialised to seek help. We are traditionally the breadwinner, we’re the rock for our family…..Currently services, arguably, are not set up for men to access them. Much better research needs to be done about why men clam up more and we need to go beyond the traditional cliches.”

If you would like more information about the support available to men, and women, with mental health issues, these links are a good place to start.

Many offer a helpline if you fear you are reaching a crisis point.

For young people: Young Minds

Mental health charity Mind, with local branch Mind in Taunton & West Somerset

SANE

The Mental Health Foundation

www.mankindcounselling.org.uk

There is also an excellent report, referred to in this article, which offers an overview of men’s mental health services. It is called Delivering Male and to download simply click on the link to download a copy.

The link to Professor Green’s program can be found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGjlPACQC6Y&app=desktop

Do also feel free to call us here at The Terrace on 01823 338968. We have a number of counsellors particularly skilled in dealing with the issues mentioned in this article and we would be pleased to discuss matters, in confidence of course.