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Walking May Help With Mental Health Issues

Walking can help mild to moderate Mental Health Issues as a supplement to your medication or alternative in some cases, it is not only good for the mind but also has a positive effect on your physique and overall fitness levels which will in turn make you feel better about yourself and free your mind when you are out and about.

There are many benefits of physical exercise when it comes to mental health, you don’t need to go too extreme in your fitness regime as this can lead to self harm through fitness, this is well documented but a 30 minute brisk walk a few days a week can make a big difference

Here are some of the benefits you may get from regular exercise :

  • Physical Health

    Any form of exercise is good for your physical health

  • Boosts Self Confidence

    It will boost your confidence and self esteem and get you back on the social ladder

  • Relieve Stress

    Who needs stress? getting out can take your mind off things and give you a welcome break

  • Boost Your Happy Chemicals

    Exercise can increase your dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain

  • It May Prevent Cognitive Decay

    As you get older you are more prone to illnesses such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons Disease, being active may combat the onset

  • Give You The Feel Good Factor

    There is nothing like getting fresh air in your lungs and seeing parts of the countryside you never knew existed

  • Relieve Anxiety

    Leave your anxious thoughts go and lose yourself in the moment

  • Boost Memory

    Soak up the sights and new feelings, it will boost your memory and free up space for new experiences

  • Help You Relax

    Exercise will help you relax after a good session and will recharge your batteries for the day / week ahead

  • Motivate Others

    As 1 in 4 is the statistic by talking to others about how exercise has helped you it may inspire them to join you or do it to help themselves

Below is the map of the walk done today, it was only 2.3 miles long but was over the cliffs and on the coastal path, additionally we have prepared some general information on walking to help you on your way, please read it as it has some great guidelines incase you get into any difficulties.

There are also some nice images I took along the walk that can be seen in the gallery below.

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GENERAL INFORMATION ON WALKING

Equipment, Preparation, The Elements & Etiquette

General Information

When you go walking common sense plays a part and a general knowledge of your current surroundings. It is essential that you have knowledge of the highway code or the basics of which side of the road to walk on where there are no paths available.

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Walking is not exclusively for experienced hikers as it is a function we all do on a daily basis so it is not only enjoyable but is good for your health and also releases endorphins to make you feel better.

If you are young or old there is a walk for you in this area and also wherever you live, there are clubs you can join or if you would like to be alone or with your family it is entirely up to you.

When you do go walking there is some things you should take care of prior to starting your walk and we will cover this in the preparation section as it is very important to be prepared and be as safe as possible on your excursion.

If you take a dog on your walks it is a good idea to find out what livestock is on the route if it includes crossing fields.

Equipment

Walking is a great pastime but there are certain equipment you should have when going for a walk, you do not need the best of everything and it all depends on the condition of the route you are taking and the weather conditions where can be seen below.

Essential equipment would include :-

  • Sturdy shoes or walking boots
  • Warm clothing (waterproof if the weather suggests rain is possible)
  • A rucksack to carry essential (we will discuss the contents in the preparation section)
  • Water or a drink of your choice (Alcohol is not advisable)
  • Mobile phone incase of an emergency

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If you have such a thing as a sat nav or one on your phone then this is a great addition as the walks on this site include a GPX download which can be imported into many walking applications on most smartphone applications such as WalkMeter on Apple iOS.

Preparation

Being prepared for a walk is essential, you never know what you will come across or how the weather conditions will change whilst you are out on your walk.

Firstly we will go through the contents of your rucksack :-

  • Fluids (plenty incase of emergency) if you have a quality rucksack you can carry a water bag with a builtin dispenser.
  • Warm clothes and a waterproof jacket and leggings if you have some.
  • A torch or headlamp.
  • Medications if you are on any such as Asthma Pumps, EpiPens, Insulin Pen or any other prescriptions you are on incase you get lost along your way.
  • Food, either a packed lunch if you are on a long walk, some energy bars and some fruit, fruit will not only fill you up but will also give you essential vitamins.
  • If you are taking a dog then take a water bowl, dog poo bags and maybe some food depending on the length of your walk.

Always let someone know that you are going out walking and tell them the area or location you are going to be walking in, additionally tell them your departure time and the approximate time you expect to return as this could prove vital if something goes wrong or you become ill along the way.

It is always a good idea to use the toilet before setting off as nobody likes being caught short on a walk.

Take a mobile phone with you incase of an emergency, the phone is for your convenience and if you do not want to take calls then either ignore or take the call to let them know you are on a walk and you are ok, alway make sure your phone is charged also.

Not all phones work in all areas so if you become ill or hurt you can call the emergency number 112 or 999 as it will pick up a signal from other networks and put you in touch with emergency services.

If you are taking a dog with you then always keep it on a lead as if the dog runs off or becomes scared and bolts it can take you off your route and render you lost or on unsteady terrain.

When entering a field with livestock in it always pays to be weary as some animals may attack, if this happens then be prepared and plan an exit route before entering the field.

The last bit of advice is to use your common sense, do not go to close to edges of steep decline and think before you take actions.

On your return always let the person you told you were going for a walk you are back safe, if not the emergency services may be called in error.

Etiquette

When walking it is good to have etiquette in mind, it costs nothing to be polite and courteous towards others and if you go missing or become ill they may know where you was last seen and what condition you were in.

Some people you meet along the way may have local knowledge and if they are coming from the opposite direction they may be able to tell you of any challenges lay ahead and prior warning will prepare you for any situation ahead.

Littering is a big problem in the countryside so please take yours home with you, it is a good idea to take a plastic bag with you to store any of your litter in your rucksack.

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If you are taking a dog along with you then please take a dog poo bag with you as nobody wants to step in dog mess along any walk.


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SUICIDE THE TABOO FOR MALES (TALKING KEEPS YOU WALKING)

Recently there has been a lot of media coverage about the “statistics of suicide rates” of males in the UK, there is not a lot new in the statistics as they like anything else without prevention and an awareness of the services and help available the trends will keep on rising year on year.

THE FACTS

  • 99% of suicides are preventable in male and female genders
  • Suicide was considered a crime and was a punishable offence until not so many decades ago
  • Mental Illness has always had stigma attached to it and the male gender especially will not talk freely about their Mental problems, this may occur due to the inherent attitude of showing strength and no weakness, primeval tendencies are still in the genes of the sex today
  • A man in the UK will die via suicide every 1.68 hours, that is just over every 100 minutes

Many speak about this issue and premise it as being an easy way out of a position the person has put themselves in, but just think about it for one minute what desperation this person is feeling inside to be driven to the ultimate sacrifice of taking their own life? It is tragic.

WHY IS THE MEDIA AND CHARITIES IN A FRENZY ABOUT THIS STARK REVELATION?

The simple answer is that males are 3.5 times more likely to commit suicide than women, as stated the trend for men is on the rise and the female is not fluctuating a great deal and has significantly decreased since 1981 going by numbers provided by the Office For National Statistics.

Charts and data sourced from the Office For National Statistics with figures up until- 2013 –  http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_395145.pdf

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The table below show the number of deaths and age-standardised suicide rate, by sex, country and region, England and Wales, deaths registered in 2013

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The Chart below shows the methods of death used in both sexes for the year of 2013, what is very striking and visible is that men choose more violent ways than women across many years of statistics.

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The segment below is taken from an infographic by the Office For National Statistics and shows the section which has been identified as the main age range where suicides occur, if you would like to see the full infographic then here is the link – http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/mortality-statistics–deaths-registered-in-england-and-wales–series-dr-/2012/info-causes-of-death.html

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THE REASONS

  • Poor Mental Health
  • The recession
  • Work pressure
  • Unemployment
  • Austerity measures and government cuts
  • Loss of pride or masculinity
  • Ex Forces
  • Many, many more – Marriage, Retirement etc

You may ask yourself at this point why a man could be so stupid and susceptible to the underlying reasons of this huge problem faced by the UK and world around us, there is no particular answer apart from talking about the issues we face in this day and age without stigma and bias.

The pressure is on in the workplace as well as for those seeking employment, deadlines and finding a job are stressful enough as it is without pressure being exerted upon us from external sources such as family, managers, peers etc, however, if you do not speak up then the problem will escalate and ultimately make you think of alternative actions to get out of the situation and this may sent do to the tipping point of suicidal thoughts.

LOOKING OUT FOR A DIFFERENCE IN BEHAVIOUR (INTERVENTION)

So now we have seen the facts, the reasons and who can help we will delve into the behaviour often exhibited by person who is preparing to take their lives.

Below are some characteristics shown by people thinking about or planning to take their own lives.

  • Change in appearance, this can go either way from looking very unkempt to incredibly dapper.
  • Becoming withdrawn from society and family
  • Tying up loose business ends
  • Making peace with disgruntled acquaintances or family members
  • Giving away belongings
  • A total change in attitude
  • Increased visits to the GP, why? This often occurs in the build up to them making up their mind as they are looking for help but most often do not confide and make up some fictitious complaint instead.

WHAT STEPS OF ACTION SHOULD YOU TAKE TO HELP A SUICIDAL PERSON?

Ensure your own safety

  • Do not get physical with the person
  • Call for assistance (especially if the person is threatening to jump)
  • Keep your distance until help is at the scene

Stay with them

  • If you think the intent is of a high risk then stay with them or arrange for someone else to stay with them whilst you call for help to get them through the crisis

Seek help immediately

  • Phone their GP if you know who it is and ask for immediate action
  • Call the emergency services 999
  • If the person agrees then take them to an accident and emergency unit and insure not to further distress the person by keeping calm, if they would prefer to see a GP then do that
  • Call a helpline that knows how to deal with the situation in hand (See below for useful numbers)

What if the person is intoxicated or high on drugs?

  • Try to discourage then from further consumption

Clear the intended implement if possible

  • If they have a rope, gun or any other implements they intend to use then with cooperation ask them if you can move it.

Try to get them talking using the following guidelines

  • Listen non judgmentally
  • Treat them with respect and be polite at all times
  • Don’t deny their feelings, you do not know what they are thinking
  • Don’t give advice or promise them anything but reassure them that help is available
REMEMBER

If you think someone is intending to harm themselves or is threatening suicide that it is you’re moral obligation to get in touch with the emergency services either if you are with them or not.

WHO CAN HELP?

OTHER USEFUL NUMBERS AND LINKS

CONTACT POBL

If you would like any further information then please contact POBL Cymru on 01639 821576 or email us at contact@pobl.org.uk

If YOU are experiencing suicidal thoughts then please SPEAK to your GP or go straight to your nearest Accident & Emergency Unit.

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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

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New mental health support for Armed Forces community

The first fully qualified Welsh Instructor rolls out training

For the first time ever, the Armed Forces community in Wales can now access a specifically designed Armed Forces Mental Health First Aid (AFMHFA) training course which will support those affected by mental ill health. Squadron Leader David Bentley-Miller RAF VR(T), of Skewen is the first Welsh Instructor to be trained in the Department of Health funded programme and will start to roll out the AFMHFA training from April March 2014, with his first course to be held at RAF St Athan in May.

In April 2013 the Department of Health launched AFMHFA – a new initiative which will ultimately train 6,600 members of the wider Armed Forces community in the mental health equivalent of first aid skills. The programme has been designed and rolled out by MHFA England, in collaboration with military charities, SSAFA, Combat Stress and the Royal British Legion (RBL).

The Department of Health has committed £600,000 from the LIBOR funds to finance this programme, a proportion of which will cover the cost of recruiting and training 200 AFMHFA Instructors who will then be qualified to deliver the two-day training course to the wider Armed Forces community. The next Instructors course to run in Wales will be held in Cardiff from 10 June 2014 – to find out how to apply visit www.mhfaengland.org

42 year old David Bentley-Miller, who is the Chief Executive of the mental health charity POBL and a vociferous mental health champion, has already attended the seven-day AFMHFA Instructor course and is now preparing to deliver the training to the wider Armed Forces community in Wales.

David says:

I am passionate about increasing the mental health literacy of our Armed Forces community and believe there is a critical need in Wales for this kind of support.  Along with the issues that are faced by our serving personnel, veterans, young and old, can also struggle to adapt back into civilian life and this can lead to mental health issues emerging.  I believe the AFMHFA initiative will encourage members of the Armed Forces community to start talking about mental health in a positive way and highlight some of the warning signs that emerge when someone is developing a mental health issue.  The earlier those signs and symptoms are spotted, the quicker the intervention and the more positive their recovery will be. I would be delighted to hear from anyone who thinks this training is something that they or those they know could benefit from.

The AFMHFA course has been specifically designed to reflect the unique needs of the Armed Forces community and will train people to:

  • Increase their understanding of mental health
  • Increase their understanding of military culture
  • Increase their personal resilience
  • Spot the early signs of a mental health problem
  • Feel confident helping someone experiencing a problem
  • Provide help on a first aid basis
  • Help prevent someone from hurting themselves or others
  • Help stop a mental health problem from getting worse
  • Help someone recover faster
  • Guide someone towards the right support
  • Reduce the stigma of mental health problems

Those interested in attending the two day AFMHFA training course, delivered by David Bentley-Miller should contact him on (01792) 516166 / 07581 334720 or visit www.pobl.org.uk

Further information about the Armed Forces Mental Health First Aid programme and how to apply for Instructor training can be found at www.mhfaengland.org