Mental health is a subject that is gaining more attention and prominence in the nations psyche. People from all sections of our society have opened up about their mental health issues, this includes members of the Royal family, that stalwart of the British stiff upper lip!
It is important to provide an open and non-judgmental space with no distractions, give them your full attention. Provide them with true and genuine concern. Share and listen.
Let them lead the discussion at their own pace. Don’t put pressure on them to tell you anything they aren’t ready to talk about, however depending on the level of your relationship you may feel confident to challenge thoughts or behaviours. Talking can take a lot of trust and courage.
You probably aren’t a medical expert or a trained counselor. Try not to make assumptions about what is wrong or jump in too quickly with your own diagnosis or solutions. But you can signpost or take them to an appointment that they have missed or make an appointment to the GP on their behalf, with consent.
Change your narrative and try to keep your language neutral. Give the person time to answer and try not to grill them with too many questions.
Exercise, having a healthy diet and taking a break can help protect mental health and sustain wellbeing. Talk about ways of de-stressing and ask if they find anything helpful. Perhaps you want to buddy up at the gym or even go for a gentle walk through some green spaces. Sit on a bench and enjoy a mindful moment.
There are many types of mental health disorder. All of which can have an impact on our lives and the those around us.
Charities like MIND help to campaign to improve services, raise awareness and Promote understanding.
Repeat what they have said back to them to ensure you have understood it. You don’t have to agree with what they are saying, but by showing you understand how they feel, you are letting them know you respect their feelings.
Ask for help or signpost if the problem is serious. If you believe they are in immediate danger or they have injuries that need medical attention, you need to take action to make sure they are safe.
If you are in need of help but do not know where to look, we have provided the contact details of a number of organisations who may be able to help you.Find Help
If they have withdrawn from social media or social events, says they will come out and then don’t, make a visit, don’t send a text follow through your visit. Make your presence known don’t dismiss that text as ‘rude’ or you ‘can’t be bothered’ Understand what has happened in their lives. Be that valued friend.
Get support in the meantime, some referrals may take up to two years, so support your friend, peer or relative with practical support.
Go for walks, make a cuppa, make regular visits, be funny, be supportive, be accountable, make open and honest conversations, try deep breathing, do some exercise, clean the house, cook together, help with appointments, childcare, support a healthy lifestyle, do the shopping and seek help.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, of course. These are just a few practical ways in which you can make your friends/peer/family feel loved, attended to, maybe temporarily relieved of stress and depression
Ofsted’s decision to create separate judgments for ‘behavior and attitudes’ and ‘personal development’ is finally within reach. However, this is long overdue. I believe that this will help to begin to shift focus away from academic outcomes as there is too much emphasis on academic attainment and not enough focus on promoting the wellbeing of students, (which as teachers, is our main focus and drive) but does not to reflect the depth and breadth of learning that should be offered by your training provider in order to develop you as a person. Moreover, the new Ofsted inspection requiring seprate judgements in these categories will allow more room to assess education providers and provide a better reflection on just how good their curriculum really is (hence a more student centered) approach to well-being. An important factor that has been missing from previous iterations of Ofsted’s inspection framework.
Recently, there has be a rising number of students being excluded and we cannot ignore the issue. We have all become wiser to the methods used in schools seeking to expel “awkward’ pupils (even in our primary schools!) as a last resort we see a number of exclusions or an informal transfer called “off rolling” for our most vulnerable young people are being left “out of sight and out of mind” by a system that is quick to condemn them to a life without a proper education. It is believed that some schools are increasingly “playing” the system – getting rid of students who might do badly in their GCSE’s and compromise the school’s performance in league tables. (Controversial, I know).
In June 2018 an Ofsted investigation into the practice of “off-rolling” – where pupils disappear from the school register just before GCSEs – found that more than 19,000 pupils who were in year 10 in 2016 had vanished from the school roll by the start of year 11, the year when pupils sit their GCSEs. While many of those pupils moved to new schools and reappeared on roll elsewhere, around half disappeared without trace, raising concerns that a number will have dropped out of education altogether.
Young people are then handed a life sentence of being lost in the system and very little support to reengage with education, employment or training. So now, we have encouraging news from Ofsted we need to do more as educational providers. An interesting study by the Youth Index highlights the complexities and challenges that young people face. According to the report some 48 per cent of pupils said that they experienced problems during their school years that prevented them from concentrating on their academic work. Of these, 46 per cent pupils did not talk to anyone about their problems, mainly because they did not want other people to know that they were struggling.
Pupils abandoned by schools need to be accountable for their actions and source the main problems for disengagement, to how exclusions are used and why certain groups are disproportionally affected. Schools have a duty of care and a rigorous approach to support the well-being of young people. How far do schools go in auditing well-being for both staff and pupils in schools. We need an open forum on mental health and well-being and a neutral space to highlight concerns within schools. Intervention is key and pre-empting issues that may arise with young people is key. A school must be a safe haven for young people.
Take a deep dive into the top 10 fitness trends for 2019 and the 10 fitness trends for 2020. sit back, relax and soak up the info! enjoy…
Exercise and fitness is a high priority for the UK government at the moment as the realisation sets in that exercise can ameliorate some of the diseases that can develop as a result of our lifestyle habits. The cost to the NHS every year to treat some of these preventable diseases is huge. Recent estimates from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) suggests that a sedentary lifestyle costs the taxpayer in excess of £1billion every year.
Year on year we are becoming more aware of the importance of exercise for our health and well-being. The American College of Sports Medicine the foremost academic authority on sport science and exercise physiology (ACSM) examined the responses of 200 health and fitness professionals for their opinion on what the fitness trends for 2019 will be. Take a look at the top 10 fitness trends for 2019.
ACSM define wearable tech as smart watches, heart rate monitors, fitness trackers and GPS tracking devices. Wearable tech has truly transformed the fitness industry, instead of having to go to an expensive and exclusive sport science laboratories to get valid and reliable data on your fitness and how your body is performing and coping with the exercise stresses you are putting it through. Now you can simply wear the tech on your wrist and get real time feedback and analysis of everything from the distance and elevation of your running route to how your cardiovascular system is performing during your workout.
Tech such as Loadsol a wearable insole for your running shoe that wirelessly transmits a real time data on your gait is just one of the new and emerging wearable tech that goes beyond just analysing your heart rate during exercise. Recent developments in wearable tech mean that we are on the threshold of analysing a whole range of parameters that could only be done by expensive lab equipment. Examples of this are; immune responses to exercise, EMG, acceleration, respiratory, metabolic and neuromuscular parameters.
HIIT is defined as short bursts of exercise followed a short period of rest (ACSM) HIIT has been shown to derive benefits to your body composition. One of the main proponents of HIIT is the British 6 time MR Olympia Dorian Yates. We are not suggesting that HIIT will turn you into a Mr Olympia ( at least not overnight!) but we are suggesting that it can be an effective way to train if done correctly. Dorian Yeates honed his HIIT workout routine over many years, constantly experimenting with what worked for his body and what didn’t. Why not give HIIT a try in your next workout.
Group training is defined an exercise with five or more participants with instructor teaching and motivating the class.
Group training is an excellent way to train socially. E are all social animals and we need company and sometimes competition to bring the best out of us. Training with a friend or friends can be a great way to exercise whilst developing other friendships and to also reduce dome of the self consciousness and anxiety of exercising alone in a room full of strangers. The instructor worth their salt will be a good motivator, teacher and above all …qualified! This can help you to learn the basics of exercise whilst you develop your confidence and exercise habits.
As the name implies , body weight training is you using your body weight to perform different types of dynamic exercise. It is an inexpensive way to exercise but it does have its limitations. You may train to the point where your body weight is no longer sufficient to overload your muscles thus provoking them to adapt and become fitter. However, in some sports, body weight training is more than enough.
More and more local councils are installing body weight training equipment in local parks. When you next visit your local park, o over a have a look at what equipment there is and then …have a go! body weight training is becoming so popular, we are confident that body weight training will make the 10 fitness trends for 2020 and beyond!
As we age, numerous genetic and hormonal changes cause our bodies to lose not only bone density but muscle mass too. Gerontologists are on the case in trying to unravel the mechanisms that cause this process to happen as we age. But what we do know is that exercise can increase bone density and muscle mass. Slowing the ageing process and reducing the risk of age related diseases that can really affect our physical and mental health later in life. The best way to reduce the risk of age related diseases and to live healthy for as long as possible is to exercise regularly along with a healthy diet, good social network (not the FaceBook type!)
SFE Academy is a training provider that trains and certifies fitness professionals. We really do understand the importance of the knowledge and skill when designing and delivering exercise programs. We train all of our fitness professionals to be able to train a diverse population of people from children to older adults and everyone in between.
It is important that all fitness professionals feel comfortable in all environments and with all people. We recognise that that skill, knowledge and friendly manner go along way to get people the results they want. All of our students are vigorously tested so that they meet the highest industry knowledge and standards. You have a right to demand that of your fitness professionals too.
Yoga has been around for an extremely long time. The health benefits are numerous. Including, developing strength, flexibility and balance. There are many different types of Yoga out there. There will almost certainly be a type for you.
It just so happens that we also train the next generation of personal trainers at SFE Academy too!
ACSM has listed Personal Training in the top 10 since 2006! This is a sign of how important personal training can be when it comes to exercise and fitness. Personal trainers are able to develop training programs tailored to your unique needs and targets. They are there to help motivate you and teach you about how the body adapts and develops during and following a period of exercise. They will also be able to provide you with nutritional advice and guidance and monitor you exercise program.
When you think of functional fitness training, think of the training montage in the film Rocky! Functional fitness aims to develop your strength, coordination and balance by doing of simulating everyday tasks and movements that you may do at home or at work. This type of training is advantageous as it uses all of the muscles (the agonist, antagonist, synergist and fixator muscles) used in that movement. Therefore, replicating real life situations. An advantage over fixed resistance machines at the gym that only pull in one direction.
The paradigm is shifting Ladies and Gentlemen! The role and usefulness of exercise to reverse a number of preventable diseases is becoming more apparent by the day! The knowledge that exercise as a medicine is filtering into schools, colleges, the Government and the medical profession too. Going to your GP (after the long wait!) will be more about analysing you exercise habits and prescribing exercise as a modal of treatment. The benefits of exercise on both physical and mental health are numerous
What is the value of well-being in schools?
Well-being, just seems to be a buzz word at the moment, but should we take heed? Yes.
The national focus on children and young people’s well-being in recent years has been long overdue and now we have work to do, in fact, we are making matters worse from the lack of resources for children and young people, in and out of the classroom. Children and young people need education to include, how to understand and look after their well-being – paramount – before we can engage in any learning. (An element of the educational system I feel strongly about). But we need to shift the focus to preventing mental and health problems and reevaluating the need to build on resilience, we can do so much to improve the lives of so many children and young people.
One in ten young people between the age of five and 16 suffers from a diagnosed mental health problem – on average, that’s three pupils in every class. Referrals to specialist mental health services nearly doubled between 2010-11 and 2014-15. As a result, NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are overwhelmed, we see the issues with long waiting lists, remain undiagnosed, limited outreach and limited access to treatment and care that they need.
So, consider a class of thirty students, many of which have not yet accessed resources. Questions as educators, how do we diagnose such scenarios, where is the training and support in the class? Government has lost its focus and its paramount that educational providers take responsibility and prioritise well-being.
SFE-Academy and Youthology are building a movement for change, to recognise that well-being has to be a priority for schools and the education system needs re-balancing. We believe that schools are much more than centres of learning. Schools can provide the most reliable conduit to address a worrying trend, however, for schools to succeed in helping their students, our priorities as a nation must be realigned, and the education system must re-balance academic learning and well-being. It’s a win-win situation for schools, parents and students. More to the point, it is, what young people deserve.
Young people deserve an excellent education that prepares them academically and emotionally for the challenges they will face inside the classroom and for lifelong learning.
Well-being must be top of the agenda, when funding pastoral care is first to be removed from school agendas or efforts remain isolated and undervalued. It should be the opposite. Such work should be at the crux of our educational system and recognised at the highest level. We believe that each child deserves a dedicated place to learn to care for their own mental health, and it is our duty as a society to provide this. With schools at the helm, we can create a generation of resilient, healthy and confident individuals.
Well-being is a clear indicator of academic achievement, success and satisfaction in later life. Evidence shows that mental health and well-being programmes in schools, can lead to significant improvements in children’s mental health, and social and emotional skills. Well-being provision in schools can also lead to reductions in classroom misbehaviour and risk of exclusion. This is high on the school agenda. The education system is unbalanced. There is too much emphasis on academic attainment and not enough focus on promoting the well-being of students.
With the new Ofsted Framework, we have to do more in schools, the new framework summarises the need to providers play a crucial role in ensuring that learners of all ages are equipped with the knowledge and skills that improve their life chances. Redefining and evaluating learners’ wider development is just as important to ensure that our young people can prosper, lead successful lives and make meaningful contributions to society. If young people are to develop the skills they need to succeed later in life, appropriate mental health support is essential. The new inspection framework presents an ideal opportunity to embed mental health and well-being at the heart of schools’, and Ofsted’s, work, while recognising the need to provide better support to schools and teachers to deliver appropriate guidance and to direct learners to the right support.
Finally, we have some recognition from Ofsted for more than a decade, there is an urgency to restore the curriculum and provide a holistic approach to learning.
SFE-Academy and Youthology can support and update existing legislation to enshrine well-being as a fundamental priority of schools.
What is the value of mental health and well-being in schools? We take a look at the value of well-being training in our education system. Are we doing enough to tackle the issue?
To fully understand the power and importance of sleep to your health and wellbeing, we must first look at the how the body regulates this process. We can then start to understand why sleep is important and how you can get reap the benefit of sleep by adjusting certain behaviors and routines.
Our bodies have a natural 24hr cycle, we call this internal body clock the Circadian rhythm. The word circadian comes from the Latin word circa diem or about a day. The circadian rhythm is controlled by a structure in the hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) these neurons serve to regulate and synchronize the circadian rhythms of the body’s tissues using cues from our environment such as light, eating, exercise and social cues. The 24hr circadian rhythm is important in the regulation of gene expression, thermoregulation, memory, learning, alertness and sleep/wake behaviors in each of us.
Our body’s have a natural internal 24hr body clock that regulates many physiological processes to maintain our health. This includes the sleep/wake cycle. We need to be mindful of any disruption to our body clock as it can mean thsat our health can be affected.
Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted in the Pineal gland. Melatonin is an integral part of the circadian rhythm and modulates the sleep/wake cycle and also has an effect on thermoregulation of the body. Melatonin secretion is modulated by the external light levels. Typically, melatonin shows a higher concentration at night and peaks at around 3-4am.
The development of the 24hr society over the last few decades means that we are disturbing the natural melatonin – circadian rhythm axis. Different wavelengths of light have a different effect on the secretion Melatonin and the onset of the sleep/wake cycle as well as other molecular and gene expressive functions of our cells. Short wavelength visible light that is resent during the day has the effect of suppressing melatonin levels making us more alert. However, during the night, no light is present, leading to the higher concentrations of melatonin, leading to increased Delta and Alpha wave brain activity. Eventually leading to sleep.
The 24hr society and the abundance of artificial light, not to mention the differing shift patterns of some workers provides the conditions for disruption to the Circadian rhythm. Furthermore, research has suggested that our health maybe affected by this disruption, leading to increased risk of disease and mortality.
Artificial light used in our homes may have an effect on our body clock (Circadian Rhythm) potentially disrupting our normal sleep/wake cycle and leaving open the possibility of increased risk of affecting our mental and physical health.
Caffeine is a widely used psychoactive substance that is present in a lot of foods and drinks that we consume. People tend to use caffeine for different reasons; to enhance cognitive performance (say on an exam) to stay awake and prevent sleepiness, taste, enjoyment and many other reasons.
On the other hand, caffeine could also be impairing our ability to get a good night’s sleep that leaves us feeling refreshed and energised. Research suggests that caffeine can reduce the time to fall off to sleep, the duration and the quality of the sleep itself.
Your tolerance and reaction to caffeine vary from person to person. With some people being very sensitive and other not. The pharmacodynamics of Caffeine mean that in conjunction with exposure to artificial light during the night can have a profound effect on the Circadian rhythm, bodily processes and the sleep/wake cycle.
In order to minimise the impact on your quality of sleep and your overall health you could adopt the following new habits to replace the old ones.
Recognise you’re consuming too much caffeine – This includes some foods that are high in caffeine
Switch to Decaf – Switching to decaf is a good way to reduce your caffeine intake without sacrificing taste.
Cut back gradually – Caffeine withdrawal syndrome can cause symptoms such as; headache, fatigue, decreased energy/activeness, decreased alertness, drowsiness, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating and focusing on tasks, feeling irritable and not feeling clear minded.
Caffeine is powerful stimulant that promotes wakefulness and disrupts the natural circadian rhythm if taken in high enough quantities. Also, high caffeine intake can reduce the time to fall to sleep and the quality of the sleep itself. Reducing your caffeine intake can help with the quality and duration of sleep.
Core body temperature and the temperature of your surrounding environment plays a part in your ability to fall asleep. Recent research has suggested that the reduced blood to the extremities has a detrimental effect on your ability to fall asleep. Heat loss at the extremities has been suggested to be a benefit to inducing sleep and preventing insomnia.
Have you felt sleepy after a long hot bath? If like most of us the answer is yes, this is because blood has been shunted to the skin and your extremities trying to dissipate the heat. This triggers a physiological cascade that results in sleepiness. Therefore, one of the ways in which you could initiate the sleep cycle is to wear a hat, socks and gloves if your feet and hands are particularly cold.
Core and peripheral body temperature plays a role in inducing sleepiness. Constriction of blood vessels at the end of your limbs plays a part in preventing sleep. If your hands and feet are cold, wearing socks or gloves may help to dilate the blood vessels leading to increased blood flow and helping you fall off to sleep.
The research around the impact of physical activity and exercise on sleep quality generally shows that being active and getting recommended 30mins moderate to vigorous activity per day helps to boost the quality of sleep.
There is a complex interaction between exercise and how it positively affects sleep quality and duration. Exercise may induce physiological changes in the body that allow the body to enter into the sleep cycle easier and may have benefits on your ability to have better quality sleep at each stage of the sleep cycle.
There is evidence that suggests that sleep deprivation and poor-quality sleep impair not only your cognitive function but your ability to perform exercise and your body’s ability to repair damaged tissues. There is inclusive evidence of the exercise dose relationship between intensity and type of exercise that illicit sleep improvements.
Being active through the day and having a healthy exercise routine (minimum of 30mins/day moderate to vigorous intensity.) will help you to fall asleep faster and improve the quality of sleep.
Anxiety is sometimes a debilitating disorder that can leave people unable to function or go about their daily lives.
The main ‘stress’ hormone that mediates our stress responses is cortisol. It has wide ranging physiological functions in the body to prepare us for a perceived danger. However, prolonged release of cortisol can result in negative psychosomatic effects such as sleep deprivation, depression, weight gain and cardiometabolic dysfunction. This has the effect of disturbing your circadian rhythm and preventing good quality sleep and can lead to insomnia itself.
If you find it hard to fall asleep at night because your mind is racing with all of the things you need to finish tomorrow, take a minute to jot all of your thoughts down. Having a place to keep all of these thoughts is helpful because you won’t have to stress or worry about forgetting something – all of those thoughts will be waiting for you in the morning!
Use techniques that will help you to unwind before bed. This can include; writing down your fears, reading, steering clear of stressful activities, having a bath, breathing techniques and meditation.
Chamomile has been known for its tranquilsing effects for some time. Research has suggested that Chamomile can help you achieve a better quality of sleep compared to a placebo.
Prescribed and even some over the counter medication has been attributed to all sorts of health risks associated with both acute and chronic usage. Research suggests that although the supplements and prescribed medication may help you get off to sleep ok, they may not help you when it comes to the quality of sleep you have. This could indicate that you are not moving through the different stages of sleep as you should or not spending enough time in them. Therefore, the underlying causes of your sleep disturbance needs to be found out in order for you to be able to start to address that problems you are having with sleep.
It is always best that you learn what the root cause of your sleeping issues are. There may be a need for supplements but you should always need to seek medical advise and guidance before you do so. Ask you self ‘why’ you are feeling bad when you wake up and why you cannot fall off to sleep. Start from there before heading down the supplement route.
Waking up at a similar time will help strengthen your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Our bodies are designed to rise with the sun and sleep when it goes down – and sleeping in on weekends can throw this rhythm off.
The same goes for falling asleep at a similar time. You will find falling asleep will get easier as your body gets used to its new routine.
Try to sync your daily routines with your own body clock. When you feel sleepy, take that as a big hint that your body is telling you that now is the time to sleep. Many native tribes around the world sync their sleep and wake cycles with daylight and nighttime cycle. As soon as dusk set in, the tribe sleep. As soon as daylight starts to appear, the tribes are awake. Although this is an ideal situation. Many of us are not fortunate enough to follow this pattern. You could takes steps to limit social media use in the nighttime and ensure that the lights are off or dimmed.
Get into a good routine
Try to use curtains or blinds that block out light as much as possible. especially if you live in an urban area like a city or town where there is a lot of light pollution.
Get a light that you can set to switch on at dawn, this mimics the light from the sun that triggers your wakefulness.
Some people are very sensitive to noise during the night. Whilst others would sleep through a thermonuclear detonation next to their head! If you are the former, then make sure you minimise the noise pollution as much as you possibly can
Reduce the external distractions that may affect your sleep pattern. Write down all of the issues that you know distract you from having a good sleep, and systematically go through each of them on your list one by one.