Today, 10 October 2018, is World Mental Health Day. Each year there’s a different focus revolving around mental wellbeing and this year it’s young people and mental health in a changing world, a focus which is very relevant for us at The Hive.
Whether it’s exams, jobs, education, relationships, results, or even if there’s no single cause, there’s plenty going on in this crazy world that can have an effect on our mental health. Even something that should be a positive event can be plagued by negative thoughts. In June this year I finally got my first graduate-level job and though I was happy, I was also riddled with anxiety about not being good enough, that I’d got the job out of sheer luck (hello imposter syndrome) and that they'd soon realise they made the wrong choice in hiring me. Then my brain doubled down with feelings of guilt - why wasn’t I happy? I’d finally got what I was looking for!
As much as the brain is fantastic, it can also be fantastically frustrating. It’s still something I’m working on, but thanks to time and being able to talk through my thoughts with those around me, my brain has finally accepted the fact that I deserve to be here, and I'm good at what I do. Being able to talk about what I was feeling with my friends and eventually my boss (I'm fortunate enough to be working with someone super amazing and understanding, which I know unfortunately isn't the case for everyone) was a massive help and it reminded me that I wasn’t alone in having these thoughts and there are ways to fight them.
With that in mind and in the spirit of World Mental Health Day 2018, we've put together a few resources and activities intended as a starting platform to help open up discussions about mental health and improve all our wellbeing.
Changing your perceptions
As with anything, knowledge is power. The more we know about a subject, the less likely we are to be scared of it, avoid it, or have perceptions of what we think it is. Whilst you’re on the bus, at your desk or with your friends, even in smaller groups on smartphones if you’re with your unit, have a go at this quiz by Time to Change, or this one specifically about young people’s mental health from MHFA (you might need to scroll down a bit!). Is it easy to decide on what you think the answer is? Were you surprised by any of them? Share the quizzes with your friends and use them to start a wider discussion.
Let’s get talking
The Time to Change website has numerous accounts from a range of young people with all different experiences of mental health problems. From anxiety to phobias, eating disorders to myth-busting, this website is a great starting point for anyone worried about a mental health issue, whoever it’s affecting. If you’re worried about your own mental health, you can get tips on getting help from those who have gone through it. If you’re worried about someone else, you’ll find ways to help them at their own pace. Whatever and whoever you’re worried about, Time to Change is a great place to feel like you’re not alone.
If you'd like to read more blogs about mental health, Blurt, which is dedicated to depression and anxiety, has also compiled a great selection. They also have monthly Buddy Boxes with a different theme every month designed to bring a little cheer to yourself or a loved one!
Embrace Green Care
Whether its games in the park, a seasonal photo scavenger hunt or even if it’s a 20 minute there-and-back-again walk, just 5 minutes in nature has been proven to boost your mood, reduce anxiety and improve feelings of self-confidence. Dubbed ‘green care’, the positive effects of being in nature are thanks to little chemicals called endorphins which are released in your brain when you’re outdoors. If it’s too dark outside in the evenings, you could arrange a weekend activity or a lunchtime walk with friends or co-workers. To get you loving being in nature even more, you could give one on the LaSER Growing up Wild Paw Prints a go!
Discussion provoking activities
One of the best ways to end the stigma of mental health is by being able to talk openly about it with those around us. As part of Girlguiding, we’re in a great position to do this with our friends and units. Why not dedicate an evening or two to the subject of improving mental health and wellbeing? Below is a discussion activity you might like to try...
This is a great activity to get people talking. Get a stack of post-it notes and ask everyone (if they feel comfortable doing so) to write down what stresses them out or has a negative impact on their mental health. Stick them on the wall and come together to talk about what’s there. Without singling anyone out or asking who wrote down what, have a general discussion about why these things have a negative impact. We’ve done this activity with the Senior Section before and it led to an amazingly lengthy and in-depth discussion about social media and other stressful aspects of modern life! Once the discussion has finished, get a stack of different coloured post-it notes and get everyone to write down things that de-stress them. Whether it’s a warm cup of tea, time with friends or pets, bullet journaling, breathing techniques, yoga moves, gaming or anything else, get everyone to stick their de-stresses over the stresses, cancelling them out and growing from there. Take a look at the wall now and talk about the different ways of de-stressing. This is a great activity because not only does it provide some tips and tricks to de-stressing your life, but what’s on the stress wall might reassure people that they’re not the only one stressed about a particular topic.
This is just one simple activity to get you started. Don’t forget, you can also get a Girlguiding Peer Educator from your area to come and deliver a Think Resilient session, giving any unit up to Ranger age resilience tips to improve their mental wellbeing.
Random acts of kindness (to yourself and others)
Whether you're at work, school, or just going about your day, if there's a lot going on in your life it can quickly get super overwhelming. Give yourself a mini dose of calm with the Girlguiding LaSER Champions' "#Take10” resource. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a selection of ideas designed for Senior Section and Ranger-aged members who may be going through stressful times at home, in education or at work to encourage you to take 10 minutes out of your day to do something nice for yourselves and to de-stress. From doodles to mug cakes, you'll find some great self-care activities.
For more ways to zone out and improve your mental wellbeing, try the Random Acts of Kindness website which has a huge range of things to try! From singing to trying something new, visiting an aquarium to joining an online community of your favourite hobby, there's something for everyone. They've also got plenty of little random acts of kindness to try, such as organising an outdoor cleanup, leaving a positive note for friends or strangers, or putting together an uplifting playlist to bring some sunshine into a loved one's day.