Monaghan Mental Health Seminar Focuses on Preventative Measures
“Building Resilience” the Theme for Mental Health Week
Monaghan Mental Health Association’s seminar for World Mental Health Week 2010 focussed on preventative measures for children and young people. An audience of parents, teachers and the general public gathered in the Westenra Hotel to hear two able and fascinating speakers in Anne Twohig and Nadine Mc Gale.
MMHA chairperson Margaret Fleming introduced the committee including secretary, Emer Brennan, Esther Mc Manus, Maureen Murray, Maureen Maloney, Rita O Reilly and Caroline Waters. She said that this seminar was about building up resources, inner strength and resilience within ourselves to enable us to cope with stress and unexpected life events. Adding that such strategies were often simple, straightforward and free she introduced Anne Twohig of the “Ananda” Programme.
Anne spoke of “mindfulness” and the “The Mindful Child”.Her topic encompassed how to help children manage stress and grow into happier well adjusted teenagers and adults emotionally, mentally and physically. “Mindfulness” is an evidence based technique to support all of us live balanced lives where we can learn to respond rather than react to life's challenges and draw from our inner strengths, compassion and wisdom.
Anne described how she had had come across the theory and studied it in the US before bringing it back to Ireland. The programme has been introduced to primary and post primary schools in Tallaght with success. A new concept here, “mindfulness” is being used both widely and with wonderful success in America, the United Kingdom and many other parts of the world. Scientific research results now support what many top childrens' psychologists, psychiatrists and educators already know to be true; children need another way of relating to the world, they need to connect with their own inner resources, their ability to be heartfelt in relationships and their ability to manage their emotions in a healthy way.
Relating the experience of a Dublin school she said “Mindful Breathing three times a day by ringing bells over the intercom signified to the children to sit quietly, hands on tummy and focus on breathing. This has been a great success and is continued in the school to this day. This simple practice made a significant difference in behaviour and Mindful Awareness is now included in the Code of Practice in the School.”
“Explaining her approach to schools she said that she talks with the teachers as a group about Mindfulness in general and the benefits of bringing this into the school environment. “I then go back to the school along with one of my colleagues and model the practices in the classroom as the Teachers sit in and observe. We then talk over the practices and answer and questions that may arise. I also encourage the teachers to experience and include Mindfulness in their own lives. We also offer further support and training programmes in Mindfulness practices for the classroom,” she said.
The Mind sciences now understand that Mindfulness - the practice of making ourselves aware of our thoughts, feelings and behaviour - will clarify our understanding of life experiences. Mindfulness can be a rewarding educational addition for school going children, in teaching our young people how to understand themselves, what can be described as their inner life - advances emotional literacy and well-bring, and is a necessary life-skill for happiness and peacefulness.
After taking questions, Anne demonstrated how mindfulness could be practised and everyone had a very relaxing five minutes!
Second speaker, Nadine Mc Gale, has been working with the Back of the Net programme (BTN), a community based initiative that integrates cognitive behavioural strategies with sport and exercise and has been shown to be effective for improving psychological well-being among young adult men. Nadine is working in DCU with Dr. Paul Gaffney and Dr. Siobhan Mc Ardle on this programme.
The BTN programme makes use of sports metaphors to facilitate discussion aimed at transferring lessons from sport into everyday life. Themes include problem-solving, effective communication, avoiding harmful situations and building resilience.
It is known that young men generally neglect to seek any support unless they are severely distressed. New and innovative strategies are needed to develop the resilience to cope, particularly in tough economic times especially in men for whom the masculine gender role, stigma and negative attitudes and fears with regard to mental health are strong.
Sport is very socially acceptable to men and a similar project in the UK called “It’s a Goal!” involving football clubs from Macclesfield to Manchester United had delivered interesting results.
Ms Mc Gale described how a ten week pilot study had been set up with three groups of young men. One group was allowed to continue as they were, another was involved in working out regularly in the gym and a third was involved in five a side football. Over a period of time, the attitudes and coping skills of the participants of each group were recorded and analysed. Significantly lower depression rates were recorded for those active in the football teams. The environment created was conducive to people opening up and talking about their problems. Football engages and does not carry the stigma. The potential for clubs and sports such as the GAA was obvious.
Margaret Fleming, closing the seminar, thanked the speakers, Ms Twohig and Ms Mc Gale and the staff of Monaghan Education Centre for their assistance in publicising the seminar and added that MMHA would be in touch with schools to gage interest in the Mindfulness for Schools Programme.
Mental Health Development Officer, Sean Mc Kiernan, speaking on behalf of Mental Health Ireland, thanked Margaret Fleming and Emer Brennan for organising the seminar which he said had provided much food for thought. He acknowledged the voluntary work of all members of the local association encouraging more people to get involved.
Monaghan Mental Health Primary School Project Launched
Primary School Pupils Invited to Participate
Monaghan Mental Health Association (MMHA) members were delighted with the response to their primary schools essay and poetry project last year when hundreds of entries flooded in from schools in the general north Monaghan area.
Poetry and a section for 4th class pupils were added last year and as both proved popular, will be retained.
The theme for both the essays and the poems for 2010 is “What makes me feel good”. Details of the project are currently being dispatched to primary schools.
The closing date for entries is Friday 14th November and all entries should be sent to Monaghan Education Centre. Name, class and school should be printed on the back of each entry.
There will be a “Merit Award” and a prize of €20 for the best essay/poem, a “Highly Commended” prize for each runner up, certificates for all entries and for the schools that take part. Best of luck to all. Members of MMHA look forward to meeting the winning entrants at the presentation night in the Westenra Hotel on Wednesday 24th November.
Monaghan Mental Health – Building Resilience
The theme chosen for Mental Health Week 2010 by Mental Health Ireland, the umbrella body for local mental health associations was “Building Resilience”, a very appropriate theme for the tough economic times we find ourselves in. Building resilience is about developing individual strengths and abilities to “bounce back” from challenges and setbacks that life presents us with. It involves being able to adapt to changes, drawing on both our own strengths and the available social resources to assist us during times of stress.
“The strongest oak of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It’s the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun.” Napoleon Hill (1883-1970)
WHY BUILD YOUR RESILIENCE?
Developing a greater level of resilience doesn’t stop difficult or stressful things from happening, but it can reduce the impact these events have on our lives and the time taken to recover from them. Being resilient does not mean ignoring your emotions or feelings, but rather experiencing grief, sadness, disappointment or anger whilst maintaining perspective and continuing on with life with a sense of hope.
We all experience challenges and disappointments at some point in our lives.
Most of us will encounter relationship problems, health issues, financial stresses, work worries, or bereavement. Even wealth can’t protect us from trauma and tragedy — but resilience does. More importantly, resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviours, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.
TEN TIPS TO BUILD YOUR RESILIENCE
1. Have the courage to be imperfect.
Try to aim for “not bad at all” or “really quite good” instead of “perfect”.
2. Take time for yourself.
Allow yourself time to do things that you enjoy. If you create boundaries around your time, and stick to them, others will respect them.
3. Sign up for that course, join that club.
Getting involved in community activities can create skills and boost your physical and mental wellbeing.
4. Be active every day in as many ways as you can.
Being physically healthy is an important foundation for your resilience. See www.getirelandactive.ie
5. Spend time with people who make you feel good. Having supportive relationships is a key factor in
resilience. Good friendships are as important as romantic and family relationships.
6. Laugh out loud each day.
Laughing reduces stress levels, so look for opportunities to introduce some humour into your day.
7. Get your ZZzz’s.
You will feel more resilient and able to handle the stresses of the day when you’ve had a good night’s sleep. Go to bed earlier and learn some tips on how to improve the quality of your sleep.
8. It’s all about team work!
Tackle difficult tasks first, learn to ask for help and accept all offers.
9. Remember, this too shall pass.
Keep things in perspective. Avoid being overly negative about things. Try and focus on the things you can control.
10. Talk out your troubles.
If you let friends and family know when times are tough, they may be able to provide a range of support. This could include listening, advice or providing practical support. Sometimes you may need to talk to a professional.
SIGN UP... For a course
Maintaining an interest is considered one of the foundations of our wellbeing. Learning can be formal or informal.
Seeking help early can prevent an issue from getting worse and help you bounce back to your life more quickly. You might find it useful to connect with other networks in your area, such as support groups or family and friends.
Volunteering is an excellent way to get more involved with and help out your local community, it increases social connectedness, quality of life and wellbeing. This is especially true for older people.
Remember - “Our greatest glory is not in never falling,but in rising every time we fall.” -Confucius