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The Curse Of The Modern Age

They say that progress is good. It appears that almost every day we hear of some breakthrough or another. Some progress is of course welcome, particularly in respect of new drugs or treatments that can alleviate suffering or keep our loved ones on the earth longer. Conversely, some progress may not be considered so good. For example, in the field of weapons and arms, man has taken the mass killing of other human beings to almost apocalyptic proportions, is this really progress?

One of the areas that has progressed substantially over the past 50 years is technology and it is here that I feel it has caused the human mind the greatest problems. Look around you after you have finished reading this article, chances are, someone will be glued to their mobile phone checking emails or Facebook perhaps ( I will forgive them if they are looking at www.pobl.org.uk by the way).
People who work never seem to be able to ‘switch off’ from them. When you last went on holiday did you notice the man or woman who was constantly checking their iPhone and said to their complaining partner “i’ll just send this last email to this client” etc. You are supposed to be relaxing! Herein lies the problem, we are constantly bombarded with information, we are too easy to get hold of by employers and others when we really should be relaxing. The mind is unable to switch off and relax, if we get a twisted ankle we are told to rest it, usually we follow this advice so how can we not seem to do it with the mind?

Add to this the uncertainty of employment due to the current economic climate where people are fearful for their jobs they think that they must always be working 60 hours a week, despite being paid for 37.5. The human mind is like a machine, it is designed to survive and it is resilient…to a point. Even the most well maintained machines can and do break down, sometimes beyond repair.
Too many people continue to work their minds without giving it any downtime, they are constantly doing a hundred things at once, however, the mind will take it’s own break if you do not do it. The body has its own defence mechanisms for looking after itself if you do not, my appeal to you in this article is for it not to get that far.

Our Patron Ruby Wax is a great exponent of a technique called MINDFULNESS, we will get an article up on our website for you very soon to discover this powerful tool. At first, I have to admit, I was very sceptical when I heard about it and I thought it was going to be a bit of mumbo jumbo with a hint of Buddhism thrown in for good measure. Well guess what? Put away any thoughts of shaved heads and orange robes, Mindfulness is not that (unless you want to wear that stuff). Mindfulness is about focusing on the here and now, not work, not emails, not a nagging partner (have you got one of those too?), nothing, just the here and now.

When I was being treated for stress, I had to go and see a doctor who specialised in Occupational Health, one of the things he asked me was “when was the last time you actually took time to watch a bee taking pollen from flowers in the garden?” I thought “this bloke needs more help than I do”, but actually, he was right, I had never done this. His point was, when did I actually take time to switch off from work, the answer was I never did and this is what perhaps caused me problems. If, by causing me to ‘switch off’ from work, mindfulness can help you to relax why not give it a try?

It’s free once you have been taught it and I have to tell you, it works! Contact us if you want some more information, we have sourced some absolutely brilliant teachers of mindfulness so that you don’t have to go running around to find out who is effective etc.

Leave it to us, that’s what we are here for! Use contact@pobl.org.uk and we will get someone to contact you.

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Why It’s Good To Talk

Those of us of a certain vintage will remember from the 1980’s Bob Hoskins ad for British Telecom and the slogan ‘it’s good to talk’. This is such a true statement when we come to the issue of mental health. The recent death of movie legend Robin Williams has once again brought the spotlight upon mental health. To the outside world I suppose, he appeared to have it all. Wealth, a fabulous home and a great family who loved him more than anything else in the world. Yet despite all this, he still took his own life. This sort of scenario is played out thousands of times around the world every single year. Suicide is a major form of preventable death and needs much more work to tackle.

It highlights one of the most inherent problems faced by those who suffer from poor mental health. That is, often, there are no outward signs of illness or despair. It is not like walking into the accident and emergency department of your local hospital with a broken leg or a cut head. If only it were!

We British are taught from a very early age that the stiff upper lip must prevail. We seem to scorn at the Americans and their apparent need for them to go running off to see the latest ‘Therapist’. I suspect the best position would be somewhere in between the two. What is vital though, is that there must be dialogue. Suffering in silence is not an option any longer. Silence really can be a matter of life and death. In this area.

Many sufferers of poor mental health tell us that they do not talk about their problems for fear of sounding silly or that their problems may be considered trivial to a listener. In reality, the ‘silly’ question is the one that you don’t ask! The days when the GP just reached for his prescribing pad without really listening to you are thankfully becoming rarer by the day. We do not deny it may still go on, my contention is that it is getting better. Not perfect, but better.

The highly funded ‘Time to Change’ campaign has attempted to address the subject and to indeed get us to talk about mental health, urging us to address the ‘elephant in the room’. All good sentiments and I applaud their efforts. But (you knew there was one coming..), despite this, how many members of the public have actually heard of it? Many of you will have because you have a clear interest in mental health, hence reading this article. My point is, I wonder if you went outside your front door and grabbed the first 20 people who passed and asked them if they had heard about it. I wonder. I would be interested in hearing the results my friends.

So in summary, talk about mental health wherever you can. Put it on the agenda at work. Be honest and open if you are not feeling too well one day. If more of us did this, we could effect change. Nobody is saying that it will be easy, but doing noting and remaining silent, is no longer going to be an option on the table for you.

Together, we must speak out for ourselves and just as importantly, for those who suffer but have yet to find the confidence to find their own lungs. We will give them a voice.
Keep safe.

David