Yesterday…

..I was visited by a couple of school nurse colleagues. It was lovely to see Pauline and Tracey, who kindly brought along lunch for us all to share outside in the sunshine . Tracey is the team leader of a small team made up of school nurses, community practitioners, health visitors and nursery nurses. Pauline is a dedicated school nurse. It is a shame but school nurses are a pretty rare breed in Hertfordshire and I worry that lay people really don’t understand the valuable role of the school nurse.

To become a school nurse you first need to be a qualified nurse and then need an extra qualification in community public health.

The role of the School Health Service has changed a great deal since most of us were at school. Today we have a School Nurse led service that is taking on new roles, developing advanced skills and adapting services to better meet the needs of today’s children, young people and their families.

School Nurses work closely with other Health Professionals such as Paediatricians, Speech Therapists, District Nurses, Mental Health Workers and General Practitioners.

School Nurses are often the first point of contact for school staff and can act as the gateway to other health services if required. They often carry out initial assessments to decide which service it is best to refer on to.

School Nurses are also closely involved with Education and Social Work staff. Much of their work involves child protection, this includes visiting families to ensure the children are safe and being adequately cared for and writing reports, sometimes required by the courts.

School nurses also carry out their public health role by supporting all children and young people to attain good physical, sexual and mental health. All the school nurses I have met really enjoy carrying out health promotion in schools, but often don’t get the opportunity as their time is taken up with child protection or ensuring the Department of Health immunisation and measuring and weighing programmes are being carried out.

School nurses work with school aged children and their families but the problem does not need to be school related. The school nurse has a confidential policy and will not share information unless it has been agreed by the child or family or the school nurse feels the child may be at risk.

Every school has an allocated school nurse, to find out who your school nurse is you can ask your school or GP practice.

To find out more about school nursing in Hertfordshire visit the website below.

http://www.hertschs.nhs.uk/services/children/schoolnursing/default.aspx

We are lucky enough to have two school nurses working in our Step2 early intervention mental health team and their contribution is invaluable.

Having a visit from work colleagues made me think about how much I am missing work and wondering when I will ever be well enough to go back. After my visit yesterday I felt so tired and laid down on the sofa falling asleep for over three hours, I can’t do that at work.

I seem to be able to do very little nowadays but I must accept that I am in the middle of treatment and on a lot of drugs that would make anyone sleepy, so I need to just succumb to these feelings I am afraid .

I expect much of today will be spent sleeping.

Have a good day

Deborah

PH =. 6
MH = 5

Which therapy is best for me?

Oh dear it’s another early start for me as I avoided taking a sleeping tablet last night. I have however still had 5 hours sleep which, for me, is pretty good going and I have at my disposal a day of succumbing if need be, but I do hope not.

I have been thinking about mental health, as I usually do, and the minefield of different types of therapy and therapists out there. How does one choose which is best for them. I of course have my own ideas and preferences but these are based entirely on my own experiences and my personal  map of the world.

This blog post would be far too long if I were to tell you even a little about some of these in one fell swoop so I shall do so over the next few days.

I shall start with sharing my own journey into therapy and why and how I have come to the conclusions I have. Please do remember these are not necessarily the right ones they are just MY beliefs and like I said based on my experience of the world so far. I am forever in training and learning more, so develop new thoughts and ideas as I go along.

Many years ago, person centred counselling was the buzz word and therapy around, and I took up the opportunity to train undertaking a diploma in counselling at my local college. As part of the training you go into therapy yourself.

I will be explaining more about what each therapy contains in a little more detail in the days to come, but generally this type of therapy is one where you sit and talk as much or as little as you want , and the therapist skilfully listens and reflects back, clarifying what they think they have heard. Some people go into this type of counselling for many years.

When working as a specialist nurse for children, mostly teenagers, who had been in care, I
listened to their experiences of counselling, and decided for myself that there must be a better approach to helping this group of young people. Many of them had told their stories over and over again to numerous social workers etc. Some of the young people were now living semi independently alone in their own bedsits. They often reported how unhelpful they found it to go and sit with a therapist where they felt they had to bring up there past yet again and then return to their homes to mull it over. They also reported that they were looking for more practical advice and support rather than someone to feedback what they think they had just heard. I felt fully in agreement with that and was anxious about the effect some of this therapy was having upon them. This is what led to my journey into finding out more about Human Givens (HG) and completing a diploma with the Human Givens Institute to become an HG therapist. During this time I managed (quite a feat I must say) to get hold of some funding to employ two qualified human given therapists to work with this group of vulnerable young people. This produced some excellent results and some very positive anecdotal feedback from the young people themselves. HG therapy is short and quick and does not require the client to go over their story in great deal or in fact at all in some circumstances. You will just have to wait a few blogs to find out more!

As I was coming to the end of my HG training I stumbled across Neuro- linguistic programming (NLP) and as I have previously explained in an earlier post.

https://mymyelomajourney.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/nlp-and-my-personal-journey/#comments

I found this personally life changing. NLP to me, is more of an attitude and a deeper understanding of what is happening in my mind and body as well as the external world around me. For me it is a toolbox of different techniques drawn from, or very similar to, a number of other therapies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Narrative Therapy , Psychoanalytic Therapy and Human Givens. NLP uses a range of techniques to help the client and the therapist gain a better understanding of their own world and resources, helping the client to move forward in their lives.

The biggest difference between the traditional therapies and the newer therapies like HG and NLP is the scientific evidence to back these newer theories up. However both of these are going through much research and analysis and the evidence is stacking up as to the positive impact they are having, so I hope they will soon be fully accepted and more respected by the scientific and academic community. All I can share is that for me personally and from what I have seen and experienced with my clients the techniques have had good results.

Since setting up a small team of mental health advisors and employing two excellent Clinical Psychologists I have been very lucky enough to listen and learn a little from them and their views and experiences. I have also experienced the support from a Clinical Psychologist on my own recent health journey as I tried to come to terms with my diagnosis. I learnt from them the importance of knowing and understanding something about my narrative. The story of my life to date and why this might be important in understanding the here and now. So I have a much more respectful view of why sometimes this may be appropriate.

At the end of the day , I believe it’s back to that old sage TIME. For me it is all about giving myself and the client time to think and explore together their resources and the best tools I have to share with them in the given time and situation being presented. Therapy is not something you do to some one else it is a journey you go on together with the therapist acting as a guide along the way. I believe you come into therapy to change your future not your past, but having a greater understanding about how your past history may have influenced your thinking today can be the key in helping you move forward.

So we have lots to explore together and over the next few blogs, I will talk in more depth about the different approaches and types of therapy you can access to help you with this.

On a different note, today I hope to bag up all the lovely scarves and hats that have been donated so far, ready to deliver to the Macmillan Centre next week. I shall make sure I get some photo’s to show you.

I also hope to have a visit to the wholesaler’s and start to better organise all the gear I have collected for the Village Secret event. So not much time for succumbing today I just hope my body agrees!

Have a happy day.

Are you getting your messages from the universe yet? If not don’t forget you can have them emailed to you for free by signing up at:

www.tut.com

Deborah x

Mental health (a bit of a passion of mine if you hadn’t already guessed!)

If I asked you to write every thing you know about mental health I have no doubt that most of you would think and write about mental illness, funnily that doesn’t happen when we think about physical health. So what is mental health, how can we acheive it and how can we help our children acheive it?

The world health organisation describes mental health as, ” a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”

I think Wikipedia puts it nicely as being “a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder, mental health may include an individual’s ability to enjoy life, and create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience, an expression of emotions, and as signifying a successful adaptation to a range of demands.

When talking about mental health to large groups or individual clients I use “the long and winding road” to demonstrate how none of us are mentally healthy all of the time.

road with me on

As you can see I have placed myself on the road a little way down from being 100% mentally healthy. Who is a 100% mentally healthy all of the time? Most of us if not all of us have mental health problems at some time. I mean we wouldn’t expect to be physically in top form all of the time would we?

We are all up and down the long and winding road, here are a few facts and figures about the prevalence on mental health in the UK :

  • 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year
  • Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain
  • Women are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men
  • About 10% of children have a mental health problem at any one time
  • Depression affects 1 in 5 older people
  • Suicides rates show that British men are three times as likely to die by suicide than British women
  • Self-harm statistics for the UK show one of the highest rates in Europe: 400 per 100,000 population
  • Only 1 in 10 prisoners has no mental disorder

Luckily we talk a lot more about recovery nowadays.

But what sort of things are likely to bring us down the road perhaps more importantly back up again?

Well I of course believe having our LAMBSS (see previous post) met in balance is a good start.

Here is a list of some of the possible life situations or choices that can take us towards mental illness:

Substance misuse
Bullying
Bereavement
Financial worries
Stress
Family break-up
Physical ill health

And some factors that can bring us back towards being mentally healthy

A good support network (friends and family)
Talking to someone
Meditation/mindfulness
Personality (in built resilience factors)
Positive attitude
Confidence
Good self esteem
Prescribed medication

How do we ensure our children have these, what can we do as parents to reduce the likelihood of our children developing mental illness?

Again these are my personal beliefs built on my experiences and map of the world.

I beiieve in order to have mentally healthy children we need mentally health adults that can act as good positive role models.

So take a good hard look at yourself and see what you are role modelling.

Are you demonstating how to manage stress?
Having a good work/life balance?
How to manage Anger?
Good self esteem?
confidence?

Hmm, now here’s your starting point………. YOU

It’s not always easy as we are all human and fallible, but if we really want to make a difference to our children’s mental health it’s where we need to begin.

posterchild change copy

I think we all want our children to be happy.

For those of you who haven’t yet seen or heard this young 13 year old boy speak (if you follow me on facebook you  may have seen it there), here is a very inspirational young man who can teach us a thing or two.

http://youtu.be/h11u3vtcpaY

Enjoy your day.

Deborah x

Blame the tablets ….

…for the lateness of this blog! Sorry folks I know many of you like to read it with your morning cup of char before heading off to work. But last night I had eight hours sleep, that must be a record, and no psychotic symptoms to note. Now I will have all the energy I need to enjoy the day ahead. My kitchen blackboard calendar has against today’s date In large capital letters REST DAY. Well it’s my calendar and I can rub it out if I like. 🙂

But I may stay in my jimmy jams today (so be warned if you pop by), throw a couple of logs on the wood burner and tick off a few of the items on my to do list for today.

Work on my painting
Try out my new dry cleaning unit
Shop on line for my paper bags
Prepare clothes and shoes ready for sale
Finish the Village Secret invites and email out
Make labels
Ring my pension lady
Enjoy a cuppa with my work colleagues.
Watch another episode of 24
Catch upon all the recorded TV programmes I have missed
Work on PR strategy
Reflect on my meeting with my new friend David who I have the upmost respect for and can’t wait to see playing the lead role in Phantom of the Opera, I may just have to keep hold of one of my recently required designer gowns!

I also want to appreciate today that I have been blessed with courage. I think courage comes with confidence and gives the possessor permission to step outside the normal rules that sometimes dictate today’s world.

According to my online dictionary, courage is:

1) The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
2) The heart as the source of emotion
3) To have the courage of one’s convictions, to act in accordance with one’s beliefs, especially in spite of criticism.

The 6 C’s is a new compassionate, caring vision for nursing that has been recently launched. The vision is based around six values – care, compassion, courage, communication, competence and commitment. I was pleased to see courage being one of them.

It takes courage to stand up for the things you believe, especially if it appears to be at odds with the people around you. In my experience however, I have found there are many people who are often thinking and believing the same but lacked the courage to speak out.

So I am grateful for the gift of courage. Courage has helped me to believe, to follow my dreams. Yesterday I met David in real life, (instead of just through the powers of technology). It felt good to have a hug from a fellow ‘Courager’ (ok I know there is no such word in the dictionary but I’ve just made it up so they can make space for it now) Couragers are role models who by example can demonstrate courage and share stories that can inspire others to take the first step. I think there are any Couragers out there, seek them out and ask them to kindly share their stories it may just change your life. I think courage could be catching.

Do you know any Couragers? Is there another word that describes people that demonstrate courage, that speak out , follow their dreams? Maybe the word is Hero?

Come on Libi this ones for you. I need a noun that fits otherwise I am sticking with Courager.

Go out and be brave today

X

Mental Health – Well you didn’t think I would stay quiet about the subject for long did you?

Every training workshop and conference I run starts with the audience jotting down all they can think about physical health, and you’ve guessed it the page is filled with words such as exercise, fitness , free from illness, etc but flipping the page over to mental health is a different story. Nine times out of ten the flip chart sheet will contain the words depression, low mood, anxiety, stress., dementia, psychosis and all number of descriptions of mental Illness.
So for a start lets start talking properly about the true meaning of health of the mind.
The World Health Organisation describes mental health as; “A state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
Some tall order.
So mental health problems can range from a low mood to a depressive illness in the same way as
Long and Winding Road1 copyphysical health problems can range from a common cold to double pneumonia.  Nobody is mentally well all of their lives. There are things that happen on a day to day basis that will effect our mental health in some way or another so I use this simple road when talking to patients, families or professionals about mental well being and illness.
We explore where we may be on the road and the sort of things that may take us down one way and back up again towards good mental health. For those of us who will and do experience mental illness, at the very furthest end of the road, it is good to know we talk and know much more about recovery nowadays.
As you may imagine since hearing my diagnosis I have been wandering a little further down the road than usual.  But I truly believe I am one of the lucky ones because I have a number of internal resilience factors and resources to pull on.  There are also a number of external support systems in play that are guiding me back towards good mental health, This in turn will effect my physiology and therefore, I believe my physical health.
When we look for these innate resources within our clients, we can help to empower them to use theses internal and external systems to influence their own recovery which can be amazingly successful and empowering in the long term.
This is big, passionate subject, very close to my heart so I will use future posts to talk about this in depth at another time.
A 2004 cross-Europe study found that approximately one in four people reported meeting criteria at some point in their life for at least one of the DSM-IV disorders assessed, which included mood disorders (13.9%), anxiety disorders (13.6%) or alcohol disorder (5.2%). Approximately one in ten met criteria within a 12-month period. Women and younger people of either gender showed more cases of disorder.- Alonso J, Angermeyer MC, Bernert S, et al. (2004).  
850,000 children and young people in the UK (10%) have a mental health problem – and that’s just the ones who have been diagnosed.
So you can see why it’s such an important subject that needs to be addressed.
Stigma causes problems and the fact that it’s difficult to talk about mental health problems can be one of the hardest parts of having a mental illness. It can lead to the loss of friendships, feeling isolated, not seeking help and slower recovery.
So get talking about it now this is the time to change  http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/
Besides my training as a registered mental health nurse I have added to my list of qualifications over the years and want to mention two here that we’re most significant and life changing for both me and and I believe my patients. The first being my ” Human Givens” diploma http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Givens
and the second Neuro- linguistic programming (N.L.P).
The methods here alongside cognitive behaviour techniques, video interactive guidance   http://www.whatsthedealwith.co.uk/great-yarmouth/professionals/video-interactive-guidance-vig and  solution focused brief therapies play a large part of our children’s mental health service . Find out more about Step2 in our first newsletter http://www.hertschs.nhs.uk/Library/Children_Services/Step2/Step2%20newsletter%20winter%202012.pdf
There will be lots more on the subject folks but in the interest of keeping your full attention I shall be resorting back to my rather more light hearted reporting from the parallel universe shortly.
Do not fear normal service will resume, cloud costume intact!