Time To Talk Day

Time to Talk Day takes place Thursday 4th February 2021 and more than ever, it is important as the global pandemic has detrimentally impacted on our mental health- from the elderly to the young.

Every day and in the month of February, we are reminded about the mental health and wellbeing of our family, friends and work colleagues and especially ourselves.

In a fight to save lives and to social distance, we have become socially isolated from our home comforts; the warmth and simple yet powerful acts such hugging and holding hands, so, having small conversations or videos chats with the people you care about can really have a positive impact on us and make a big difference.

The Power of Small

We know that the more conversations we have, the more myths we can bust and barriers we can break down, helping to end the isolation, shame and worthlessness that too many of us with mental health problems are made to feel.

Time to Talk Day is the day that the nation gets talking about mental health. This year’s event might look a little different, but at times like this open conversations about mental health are more important than ever.

Time To Change need your help to start the conversation this Time to Talk Day – together we can end mental health stigma.

Visit to in out and to take parthttps://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/time-talk-day 

  “Around 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem this year yet the shame and silence can be as bad as the mental health problem itself. Your attitude to mental health could change someone’s life.”

Watch Time To Changes’ video on Mental Health:  https://youtu.be/PLAfyb1Q0MY

Ask Twice

“Sometimes we say we’re fine when we’re not. So, we’re asking you, if your mate’s acting differently: ask twice.”

1 in 4 of us experience a mental health problem in any year. And worryingly, the current restrictions on our lives mean men are missing out on support from those around them. So, if a mate says he’s fine, he might not be. A second “How are you?” can make all the difference.

To read more visit:

Myths and Facts- https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/node/103150

Ask Twice- https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/asktwice

Walk Your Dog Month

January is a great month to kick start a new habit that you can continue all year round.   Wouldn’t it be great to start two or at least kill two birds at the same time? Along with Vegan January and making New Year’s Resolutions, did you know January is Walk your dog month?

For a dog owner every month is Walk Your Dog month, but if you are a dog owner January is a great month to add an extra walk or go for a longer walk.  With Christmas a distant memory and with the cold weather and those January blues to deal with – it can be tempting to put off walking your dog, but it may be precisely what you and your dog need.

In both the US and the UK people and animals are becoming overweight and obese therefore if you think this description fits you or your dog, before commencing extra activity please consult your doctor or vet.

So, what are the benefits of walk your dog month?

  • Bonding time with your dog
  • Great way to exercise for both you and your dog
  • Improves mental well-being for both you and your dog
  • Meet other people and their dogs

So, what can you do?

In case you think walking your dog will become boring try these tips:

  • Change your routine (your walk route)
  • Walk your dog with style (i.e., buy your dog a new lead, or buy yourself a new outfit)
  • Teach your dog some new tricks (take the time to teach your dog some tricks while out for a walk)

So, what is stopping you?

For ideas on how to do it right see here:

https://www.rover.com/blog/january-is-walk-your-dog-month/

Alcohol Awareness Week

What is Alcohol Awareness and Mental Health Week? 

Alcohol Awareness with mental health Week  takes place Monday 16 to Sunday 22 November 2020.

About 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems every year.  Alcohol is one of the increasing contributors and  is seen by people as a coping mechanism for problems caused by anxiety, stress, depression or other mental health related problems.

However, this “self-medicating” is only temporarily solved and short-lived by alcohol.  Depression is one of the most common forms of mental health and with alcohol problems either will trigger the other, so keeping a check on alcohol consumption might help stop trigger depression.

Long-term effects of self-medicating use of alcohol:

Continued use of alcohol and overuse will contribute to mood swings, loosing control over you moods, depression, self-esteem and increase to mental health problems, health and well-being, contribute to relationship break downs and financial problems.

What can you do to slow down and keep a check your consumption?

Look up how much is too much and how to keep a balance with calculators available through various website, such as Alcohol Change UK or the NHS OneYou website and download the app: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/for-your-body/drink-less/

 

Why not speak to your GP about any of the symptoms below and how or when you can get support to reduce alcohol consumption:

  • seizures (fits)
  • hand tremors (‘the shakes’)
  • sweating
  • seeing things that are not actually real (visual hallucinations)
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)

Look for support on the NHS website for local support:

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/

https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/other-services/Alcohol-addiction/LocationSearch/1805

Useful contacts for alcohol problems

  • Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline. If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s drinking, you can call this free helpline in complete confidence. Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a free self-help group. Its “12 step” programme involves getting sober with the help of regular support groups.
  • Al-Anon Family Groups offers support and understanding to the families and friends of problem drinkers, whether they’re still drinking or not. Alateen is part of Al-Anon and can be attended by 12- to 17-year-olds who are affected by another person’s drinking, usually a parent.
  • We Are With You is a UK-wide treatment agency that helps individuals, families and communities manage the effects of drug and alcohol misuse.
  • Adfam is a national charity working with families affected by drugs and alcohol. Adfam operates an online message board and a database of local support groups.
  • The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa) provides a free, confidential telephone and email helpline for children of alcohol-dependent parents and others concerned about their welfare. Call 0800 358 3456 for the Nacoa helpline.
  • SMART Recovery groups help people decide whether they have a problem, build up their motivation to change, and offer a set of proven tools and techniques to support recovery.
  • MIND for information on addiction and dependency.

Dancing for Health and Wellbeing

If you enjoy dancing, it can be a great way to boost your mood and improve your fitness.  This week, we have some great inspiration that will get you in the mood for dancing to lift your spirits and move your body.

If you want to find out more about the impact of dance on mind and body, have a look at this article on the ultimate feel-good exercise.  Did you know that dancing can burn up to 600 calories per hour? Or that hip hop dancing boost your mood, lowers stress and improves your energy, similar to other more traditional forms of aerobic exercise?  Find out more dancing facts here in this article by Time magazine.  If you need any more reasons, Warwick University have put together this list of six of the benefits of dancing to get you started.  Finally, for some truly personal inspiration, here is a wonderful Tedx Talk by Kevin Turner who talks about how dance has impacted him as a person and his mental health condition.

Dance to Health are an organisation that have created these great follow along dance routines that you can do in a chair in the comfort of your own home.  These routines are designed to help prevent falls in the over 55s – another great benefit.

Wanting to burn those 600 calories?  How about this 15 minute dance workout or this 30-minute hip hop routine from Pop Sugar?

If you want to feel more confident in your body when you dance, we have found some great dance videos for everybody here, here and here.

Pets and Wellbeing

Having a pet brings many rewards including companionship, affection and exercise.  Here are some links that explore this in more details, highlighting how having a pet can benefit your health and well-being in many ways.

Continue reading “Pets and Wellbeing”

Mental Health Awareness Week – Surviving or Thriving?

Read, learn and connect with us during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week –

Libraries’ positive contribution to the mental well-being of the population is well documented – see the Arts Council’s publication on ‘The health and wellbeing benefits of public libraries.’ 

I say population and not just customers or residents as it has been said that living near a library and, indeed, just walking past a library has a positive effect on one’s emotional and mental well-being.

Of course we in libraries are keen to invite people to come through the doors and experience the well-being benefits first hand. The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Surviving or Thriving’ which encourages us to look at our physical and mental well-being.

Some of our offers are more obviously health focused, our health information displays encourage us to feed our brains with the right food and suggest ways to be more active, as well as giving information on managing and living well with chronic conditions.  Poor physical health can be a drain on our mental and emotional strength and poor mental health can lead to inactivity, poor diet and so the cycle continues.

One way to break cycles of unhelpful thoughts and behaviours is cognitive behavioural therapy and in the West London Clinical Commissioning Group area there is Time to Talk, a free psychological therapy service.

In order to help people decide whether this service is for them or for support while waiting for a referral, or during, or after therapy, the libraries’ Reading Well Books on Prescription collections are recommended by GPs and health promotion specialists. A new collection put together to support those living with chronic conditions will be launched in July this year.

The Reading Well Books on Prescription initiative is part of our Bibliotherapy offer. Our libraries host read aloud groups in partnership with The Reader Organisation. These facilitator led Book Break groups meet every week and give members the opportunity to join in reading aloud from good literature and discuss what has been read over a cup of tea or coffee or just sit back, listen and enjoy the company.

It is encouraging to look at how we in libraries contribute to what is called ‘the wider determinants of health’  All the things in our lives that support us, family, work, employment, housing, finances, education, lifelong learning, English classes, coffee mornings, knitting groups, activities for children and teenagers, employment advice, business information points for entrepreneurs old and young, all these available in libraries.

Libraries have always been inspirational and aspirational encouraging us to ask for more learning and knowledge and skills to create meaningful lives for ourselves and our families.

There are also some very good enjoyable fiction books available free to borrow hard copy or online! See our new book displays or see what eBooks and eMagazines we have. Did you know that reading for as little as six minutes can improve mental well-being?

See what you can do this Mental Health Awareness week to look after your own mental well-being, eat well, sleep well, go for a walk in one of our gorgeous parks and yes, visit your local library.

Kate Gielgud
Health Information Co-ordinator

Shelf Help for Teens

During the month of April people across London have been reading the same book about riot and civil unrest as part of Cityread London. Ten Days by Gillian Slovo is about power play, racial tension, rioting and disorder: a perfect storm where characters just boil over – they can’t take any more.

It’s a reflection of life: sometimes times get hard and that’s when a lot of people through the ages have turned to books, both writing and reading them (Shakespeare had a lot to get out of his system, and he did it so well that we remember him 400 years later!). Young adults especially face a lot of pressure in their lives. 

Here in libraries we’ve a got a brand new collection of books for young people between the ages of 13 and 18. The collection (Books on Prescription) was launched last week and they’re already flying off the shelves. There are books about depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self harm, living with autism and more. They are really helpful and some are funny too (you’ve got to see the funny side sometimes!). Some of the books are a bit like guides or reference books and some are fiction but based on real people and real lives. They’ve been chosen by young people with experience of mental health issues, and you can find them in your local library, browse the collection online or even have them recommended to you by your doctor.

Some titles include:

  • eatingdisCan I tell you about eating disorders? A guide for friends, family and professionals. This book has been written for 7-15 year olds to help them understand and learn about different eating disorders.
  • Vicious: true stories by teens about bullying. Teens write about their experiences with bullying of all kinds; physical, verbal, relational and cyber.
  • Banish your body image thief. An imaginative workbook looking at what body image means and how it develops, and is packed with strategies to help you change how you think and act in order to build a positive body image.

 

 

 

Look at the Young Minds website for further sources of help and information. Don’t forget to have a look in your local library for our new Books on Prescription: ask a member of staff, or look for the BOP stickers on the spine.

 

bop1

 

 

Happy 4th birthday to Book Break!

This is a guest blog post by Megg Hewlett, Project Worker for Get Into Reading London. Over the last four years she has established and run the Book Break reading groups in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Book Break logo
Enjoy a book with a cup of a tea!

It’s four years since the first Book Break shared reading groups began in Kensington and Chelsea. Since then we’ve read with people in many settings including libraries, hospitals, mental health services, schools, alcohol and drug services, community centres and workplaces.

Book Break is delivered by The Reader Organisation, an award-winning social enterprise working to connect people with great literature and each other, in partnership with Kensington and Chelsea libraries. There’s more information about Get Into Reading and The Reader Organisation on their website.

The Reader Organisation's logo
The Reader Organisation’s logo

We create places where personal responses to books are freely shared. Our projects allow us to reach a diverse range of people, readers and non readers, extending the individual experience of literature and building strong mutually supportive communities that read together.

“You need it, you just don’t know you need it.”

Book Break groups are stimulating, friendly and non-pressured. They provide stability, support and enjoyment. All texts are read aloud so anyone can get involved – readers and non readers alike.

Enjoying sharing the same story
Enjoying sharing the same story

Groups are led by trained project workers and volunteers, meeting each week to read books and poems together in locations such as care homes, libraries, prisons, mental health centres, community centres, schools, hostels, refugee centres and workplaces. We read aloud, slowly, taking time over each text, allowing thoughts, connections and understanding to emerge.

“It’s not just about reading or getting to know the story. It’s about having our opinions about things as well.”

Members can choose to join in, or not, and at times the reading will stop to allow some talk about parts of the text, discussing what it might mean, or reflect on similar experiences of their own. The effects are subtle, and profound.

“Sometimes you can see different people having different ideas. You take something one way and someone else might take it a different way, and it makes you think. You respect other people’s opinions.”

A relaxed, friendly atmosphere is created in each group. Over time, people build up a confidence that enables them to tell their own stories, as well as to forge close relationships with fellow readers.

Reading along with the story
Reading along with the story

For some readers, this prompts new aspirations, and the searching out of further learning and support that will help rebuild their lives. For others, their reading group is a lifeline, helping to keep them on a more even keel. For all, it is a regular lift each week.

“It sets me up for the week”

Want to join one of our Book Break groups? Full details of when are where the groups meet can be found on the bibliotherapy page on Kensington and Chelsea libraries’ website. You can also contact me on megghewlett@thereader.org.uk

Megg Hewlett 

Project Worker, Get Into Reading London