If you’re in need of expert advice and support, one of the first ports of call may be a mental health charity. Whether you’re going through some difficulties and need to talk to a trained professional at short notice, or are looking for some advice on how to talk to a loved one about a problem, these specialist organisations can support you at any time of the day.
Time to Change
Time to Change is a charity that encourages people to take positive action to end the stigma attached to mental illness. They urge, “If your friend’s acting differently, step in”, and provide useful information to help people do so.
Time to Change is invaluable in providing communities, schools, workplaces and community hubs with the necessary knowledge to talk about mental health productively. The charity works in communities through local hubs to nurture this positive change, also hosting events such as National Time to Talk Day.
The Mental Health Foundation
The Mental Health Foundation is an organisation dedicated to finding and addressing the sources of mental health problems. Their work is informed by research and case studies, deriving from over 60 years of activity in the mental health sphere.
The foundation also champion mindfulness as a valuable technique in preventing mental illness and relapse. Cal Strode, a spokesperson for the Mental Health Foundation, said:
“Given that 59% of adults in Britain say they are more stressed today than they were five years ago, it’s no wonder we’re looking for new ways to feel calm and reduce stress. [Mindfulness] brings you into a present state where you’re less likely to dwell on the past or worry about the future. It is a process in which you become more aware of your thoughts, and of the impact identification with.
“For example, when brushing your teeth or putting on make-up in the morning, bring your attention intensely into that moment, paying attention to each brush stroke and how it feels... Doing this can make us conscious of how often we worry about the past or fret about the future.
“These things may sound simple but can make a real difference with committed practice. Users of our online BeMindful training programme report an average 40% reduction in stress levels upon completing the course.”
There are countless websites that offer support for people looking to improve their mindfulness and emotional wellbeing. From mindfulness resources to personal blogs, these websites offer a range of approaches that can be invaluable.
Mind Matters Training
Mind Matters Training is a website offering training in mental wellness via both scheduled training sessions and their online portal. From licensed mental health first aid courses to resources on topics such as managing grief, this website is very useful in collating proven support systems.
Jane McNeice, Director of the organisation, says:
“Mental health is equally as important as our physical health - in fact you don’t have good physical health without good mental health. As it is important to look after our physical health, we too must ensure that we focus attention on looking after and managing our mental health.
“What is your ‘5 a day’ for your mental health? Whether that is taking time out, enjoying time with friends, having a massage, eating a healthy diet, or making use of self-help resources and support such as those available via Mind Matters and many other helpful organisations. There’s lots of things we can do to support good mental health.”
Natasha Tracy’s Bipolar Burble has been offering authentic and daring stories of living with bipolar disorder, scientific facts on mental illness and real hope for 14 years. She says, “This is a site for those who are finding their way through a new diagnosis all the way through to those who have been battling mental illness for years. What people find is raw emotion, inspiration and coping techniques they can apply in their own lives.”
Natasha Tracy believes that open and honest communication about mental illness is the way forward to remove the prejudice and discrimination those with mental illness can face. Her blog certainly does just that, and is a fantastic resource to remind people that they are not alone in the experience of mental illness. This popular blogger is now also the author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar, a fantastic book which can be found on Amazon.
Defying Mental Illness
Defying Mental Illness is the blog of Chuck and Zoe, on defying the odds of mental illness, along with various other topics relating to emotional and mental health. Chuck shares his experiences of mental illness and recovery, whilst Zoe discusses her experience as a caregiver. Along with guest bloggers, they have written over 400 articles that explore everything from stress management to the true meaning of resilience.
Alongside their mental wellness-related content, they also offer support to readers, and create several podcasts and share videos on different subjects relating to mental illness and recovery.
Events and retreats
If you’re looking for hands-on information and interactive support relating to mental health, there are various events hosted across the country that help attendees learn about how to nurture their emotional wellbeing through mindfulness.
The Mindful Living Show
1st-2nd June 2018, London
The Mindful Living Show is an annual event, which will be held from the 1st-2nd June 2018, which aims to teach visitors more about the art of meditation and mindfulness techniques to enrich aspects of their everyday life. Featuring 70 expert speakers, 60 exhibitors, two days of practice and various other instalments, this event is truly an exploration through mindfulness and emotional wellbeing. Last year's speakers included comedian Ruby Wax, Mental Skills Coach Katie Warriner and former Olympic athlete, Etienne Scott MBE - so we can expect to see a similarly impressive line-up in 2018!
Alexandra Joicey, Event Director, says:
“The Mindful Living Show was created out of a desire to share the benefits of mindfulness and meditation and bring together this growing community in a fun and informative way. Our guiding principle is to create “Time for the Mind” where we look at what makes us feel good, our mental and emotional health and the benefits meditation and mindfulness can bring. There are so many ways to engage with mindfulness, whatever our background or interests. We have tried to bring this diverse audience together, creating a unique live experience, to spread the benefits for a happier and healthier society.”
Mental Health: Making the Forward Plans a Reality
27th September, London
The Mental Health: Making the Forward Plans a Reality conference is a conference originally based on tracking the progress of the Five Year Forward View for mental health. As mental illness is the largest single cause of disability in the UK, this plan promises transformation in health and care services. The event is primarily aimed at healthcare professionals, and explores new ways of working to benefit people with mental health needs.
With an outstanding speaker line-up on the cards, this is an event that is not to be missed. The organisation aims to target around one million people who need care, and so far it seems to be successful. At least 120,000 more people are now receiving some kind of support since the organisation was founded.
Here at Champneys, we can help you cultivate mental health on a smaller, more personal scale with our expert-led mindfulness and meditation retreats. Touching on personal relationships, stress management, career goals and overall happiness, these retreats share strategies for enhancing mindfulness in day-to-day life. Consulting with our trained professionals, you’ll learn about nutrition, fitness, meditation, stress control, and more.
You could join bestselling author of Mind Calm and Body Calm, Sandy C. Newbigging for a two night mind-body calm retreat, where you’ll join a series of group workshops including meditation and ‘Embodying Calm for Success’. Alternatively, the five night ‘Soul Life Retreat’ with Mind Fitness Coach, Steve Braithwaite, will help you to let go of stress, expectations and pressure while connecting with the soul. Five two-hour seminars will share techniques such as clearing the mind, improving the sleep and more. With all of our mindfulness sessions, you can also enjoy a relaxing thalassotherapy pool session, and unlimited use of fitness facilities to re-balance your mind and spirit.
Life coaching retreats
Alternatively, if you’re looking for something that addresses every aspect of your lifestyle try a life coaching stay. Through a series of professionally-led workshops and talks, you will discover proven strategies to help you deal with personal relationships, careers, stress management and more. Sharing the tools that will help you to take back control of your life and inject passion into every day, these retreats are truly transformative.
For example, our two night ‘Attitude is All’ retreat with Tanya Wheway, you can enjoy four talks and workshops with Tanya, three ‘Five Elements’ ritual sessions, two talks by nutrition and fitness experts on healthy eating, a weight management, vitality and anti-ageing session, a thalassotherapy treatment and use of spa, gym, swimming pool and more, plus up to 20 activities.
Perfect for calming stress on the go and maintaining mindfulness wherever you are, apps are the ideal tool for maintaining good mental health wherever you are. With countless free and paid apps out there, you have plenty of choice, whether you’re looking for a thought tracker or a meditation aid.
£3.87 per month subscription
The popular app Calm, is based around the premise of ‘meditation made simple’. If you want to reduce general anxiety, improve sleep and generally feel happier, this may be the app for you. Named the number one app for mindfulness, Calm provides a new meditation and inspiration each day, whether it be creativity, kindness or noticing. Seven and 21-day meditation programs either teach you the basics of meditative practice or deepen your understanding of its principles, helping you manage stress, focus and reduce anxiety. There are also special mini sessions for commuting and ‘emergency calm’, plus useful mindfulness tips on their blog.
Calm also provides specialised sleep stories for adults, with tales read by well-known figures that will help people unwind and sleep peacefully each evening. From “The Butterfly Sanctuary” narrated by Clarke Peters to “The Elfin Hill” read by Alan Sklar, these relaxing stories will lull you into a deep sleep, which will allow your brain to rest, reducing stress and anxiety come morning.
MoodTools is a self-help app that offers science-backed tools to fight against low moods. It shares information on the condition, tests for symptoms, videos and a series of activities such as a thought diary and tools based on the principles of Behavioural Activation Therapy. Nancy from MoodTools explains: “From commonly used therapy strategies to inspirational YouTube videos to a suicide safety plan, MoodTools is great for anyone who needs a mood boost. It can also be used as a supplement to treatment.”
MoodKit and Moodnotes
£4.99 and £3.99
Two similar apps that are great for maintaining good mental health are MoodKit and Moodnotes. MoodKit provides tools such as a mood tracker, journal, thought checker and a series of smaller activities such as paying a compliment, committing to health habits, and so on. Moodnotes, on the other hand, is an innovative journaling app, which helps users track their mood and what influences it, providing ways to develop healthier thinking habits and nurture self-awareness.
Edrick Dorian, Co-Founder of Thrivepoint, the creators of these apps, tells us:
“The MoodKit and Moodnotes apps empower people to understand and manage their moods more effectively. Developed by clinical psychologists and drawing on scientifically-supported principles of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, they offer intuitive tools enabling users to track their moods, journal for self-discovery, engage in mood-enhancing activities, and learn healthy thinking habits. Designed for use either as self-help resources or to complement professional treatment, MoodKit and Moodnotes are appropriate for individuals looking for effective ways to reduce symptoms related to anxiety or depression as well as for those seeking to enhance their overall well-being.”
Stop Breathe Think
Stop, Breathe & Think is an app that helps you find peace anywhere. This award-winning app allows you to check in with how you're feeling and recommends short meditations and mindful activities tuned to those emotions. The creators have also recently launched Stop, Breathe & Think Kids, with mindful missions specifically targeted to children aged 5-10.
Stop, Breathe & Think CEO Julie Campistron says, “We believe there is huge value in spending a few minutes every day checking in with yourself and having a mindfulness routine. We constantly hear from our users how much the app has helped them in situations ranging from stress to dealing with difficult situations or simply helping with better sleep.”
Worry Watch is the perfect app for those with the tendency to mull over their concerns for longer than many be healthy. It is a simple interface that allows you to log what is bothering you and track whether the outcome of a situation was as bad as you anticipated. Through this process, and by subsequently analysing the patterns and trends in your mood with the app’s visuals, you can glean where you are worrying too much about certain issues, and begin to address this.
Worry Watch creator, Alan, explains:
“Often we presume the worst outcome when dealt with uncertainty and ruminate into our distorted reality. Later we realize things turned out better than we thought but this self-realization tends to be short-lived. Worry Watch app helps us record these self-realizations, reflect upon our thought patterns and remind that our worries are mostly unfounded.”
Podcasts are perfect for those times when you simply want to plug in your headphones and escape. Sometimes, when our minds are particularly full of emotions and thoughts, music alone can simply become a backdrop to worry, so a podcast to engage you and discuss tactics for mindfulness is a great alternative.
The Daily Meditation Podcast
The Daily Meditation Podcast from the mindfulness website, Sip and Om is a podcast run by meditation coach Mary Meckley, answering readers’ questions as she guides listeners in establishing a daily meditation ritual. Each week, she introduces a new ritual and theme to keep the program dynamic, including topics such as overcoming self-doubt, moving past fear and improving confidence.
Mary, creator of the podcast, says, “Becoming happier and more mindful is really a habit anyone can acquire. The trick is to make it a natural part of your day. My goal for the Daily Meditation Podcast is to help you weave meditation into your day-to-day living whether you’re seated meditating or right smack in the busiest part of your day. When you can take your meditation on the road with you your mental health improves by leaps and bounds.”
Happier with Gretchen Rubin
Happier with Gretchen Rubin is a podcast that shares actionable advice about how to foster positive habits for a happy life. In this entertaining yet thought-provoking podcast, Gretchen coaches her co-host and younger sister, Elizabeth, through a series of exercises and principles which lead to her being lovingly dubbed the ‘happiness bully’.
Gretchen tells us: “The ‘Happier with Gretchen Rubin’ podcast gives strategies and tips about how to be happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative. With my co-host, my sister Elizabeth Craft, we cover segments such as: ideas for listeners to “try this at home,” discuss common “happiness stumbling blocks,” point out ways to “know yourself better,” give “happiness hacks,” and talk about our own “demerits and gold stars” for the week. When we think about ways to be happier, we often spot manageable, concrete steps we can take.”
Soul on Fire
Soul on Fire podcast is run by Jordan Younger, blogger at The Balanced Blonde and author of Soul on Fire Yoga. This show discusses everything from wellness hacks to business tips, nutrition and how to keep your passion for life sparked, all as though you were chatting with a good friend.
Host Jordan says:
“I hope that by sharing deeply and authentically on the Soul on Fire podcast, it inspires others to dig deep in their own lives and in their own conversations with people close to them. My hope is that hearing the interviews with the awesome guests who have set their souls on fire will inspire and motivate listeners to pursue what makes them feel the most passionate, happy and excited about life.
“I have also started dabbling in solo episodes where I discuss trauma, PTSD, recovery and healing through wellness and yoga, and so much more. Guests have shared everything from the rough patches of divorce, to serious mental illness and eating disorder recovery, to dealing with the loss of loved ones. We also talk about positive, fun, trendy vibes in the wellness world - so I do believe it's the best of both worlds! Authentic and real with a touch of fun, modern-day spirituality and wellness.”
The One You Feed
The One You Feed Podcast was founded by Eric Zimmer and Chris Forbes, on the basis of 25 years of friendship. The premise of the podcast is encouraging themselves and other to make a ‘conscious, constant and creative effort to make a life worth living’, and interviews various different figures on how they keep themselves positive and moving in the right direction. This is great for hearing tips from people in all different walks of life.
Eric Zimmer from the podcast explains:
“The One You Feed Podcast features conversations with experts across many fields of study about how to create a life worth living. These experts include scientists, authors, researchers, teachers, thought leaders, spiritual gurus and public figures and all offer practical, actionable wisdom that our listeners can readily apply to their lives in order to act their way into a better, more fulfilling life.”
YouTube is one of the most popular media platforms of the present day, and is a powerful tool for creating a sense of community between people from all over the world. Many popular vloggers are considered tantamount to friends by their viewers, and that’s why YouTube is such a great resource for mental health support – you can really connect with the individual sharing their advice.
Mental Health Channel
The Mental Health Channel is dedicated to prompting positive conversations about mental health and mindfulness. Sharing the journeys of individuals who have struggled with mental illnesses, the videos are filmed in an engaging documentary style, giving viewers real insight into how others have coped with their challenges.
Harry Lynch, Director of the channel, tells us:
“The Mental Health Channel is about inspiration. It finds and films personal stories of triumph over great challenges in mental health, and distributes them free online and on TV. Mental Health Channel characters have struggled and succeeded, as anyone can, and now lead lives full of promise. Through these stories, the channel aims to encourage a positive outlook and perseverance, and to change the conversation around mental health, from illness to wellness.”
The Chopra Well
Led by doctor and author, Deepak Chopra, The Chopra Well is a channel sharing inspiring, fun, and thought-provoking videos about healthy living, wellness, and spirituality. Aiming to provide viewers with tools for personal and social transformation, they publish videos on everything from finding your true self to ways to aid peaceful sleep. What is particularly great about the channel is its international scope, with invited speakers including international practitioners, Nepalese Sherpas and more. This helps viewers learn about different mindfulness techniques from around the world.
Gracie Francesca is loved by her YouTube audience for her honesty and openness – she is not afraid to tackle difficult issues. Many of Grace’s videos promote self-esteem, discussing themes like body confidence, relationships and more. She also answers viewers’ questions, creating a safe space for members of her community to connect and support one another.
Grace says, “I feel my YouTube channel’s main message is self-care. If I’m having a bad day, doing the things I enjoy helps me feel better, and this should be practiced by everyone. Simple luxuries like a long hot bath or face mask, or just eating your favourite food can help you relax and cope when things get too much.”
I Drank the Seawater
I Drank the Seawater is a channel documenting a personal journey with mental illness. Raising awareness for various conditions. Featuring Q&As, spoken word pieces, interviews and social commentary, this channel has something to help many different people.
“I open up about my own mental illness and how I have learned to cope. I know that many do not have access to the treatment I have been afforded, and could benefit from learning what I have been able to along the way. Just having someone who understands and has been there is a huge thing for many as they can hear first-hand what I have lived and relate it to their own lives. What worked for me may not be what works for someone else, but those that hear me can be mindful of their own capacities and find what works for them.”
Over the years, millions of books have been written about mindfulness, using different approaches and principles from around the world. These books are focused on providing support for individuals in need. Many brilliant books related to mental health and mindfulness can also be accessed via ‘prescription’ from Reading Well – a programme that promotes reading for wellbeing.
Dan Harris’ book, 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress without Losing my Edge, and Found Self-help that Actually Works, comes from a personal story. After having a panic attack on Good Morning America, which was televised nationally, the author decided to explore the world of mediation. This true story shares a personal journey of healing and growth in a manner that is both relatable and constructive, considering the many aspects of mediation in the modern day, from neuroscience to the American spiritual scene. It will leave readers feeling with a renewed sense of positivity. The book also delivers a good dose of humour, making it accessible even to those who would never normally consider reading a spiritually-focussed book.
The Art of Happiness
The Dalai Lama’s famous book The Art of Happiness is one of the world’s favourite books on mindfulness and – of course – happiness. A Nobel Peace Prize winner who spends his whole life helping others through the principles of Buddhism, the Dalai Lama’s insight is invaluable. In this book, he shares stories, conversations and meditations on how to overcome anxiety, fear, insecurity and anger. Topics such as relationships, loss and careers are traversed, all from the perspective of reaching inner peace.
Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
Dr. Kristin Neff
Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself was written by renowned psychology Dr. Kristin Neff, and is based on the principles used in compassion-based therapy. This step-by-step guide shares tips on how to apply the natural trait of compassion to yourself when you are struggling with emotional difficulties. Dr. Neff deconstructs the yearning for self-esteem and continual betterment, and instead focused on self-compassion and acceptance. The book will teach you how to face difficult times without judgement and move towards a healthier relationship with your mind.
The Miracle of Mindfulness
Thich Nhat Hanh
The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation is a book by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, which shares the art of meditation in a simple and relatable way. Published in 1999, it has been established as a go-to text for learning how to meditate in daily life, whether washing the dishes or at work. Using anecdotes and practical prompts, he shares the importance of maintaining awareness, and reminds readers of the potential that each moment can hold for working towards self-understanding.
Scrambled Heads is a book that has gained a huge amount of press attention in the past few months, and for good reason. This book, written by 19-year-old Emily Palmer, is a children’s book specifically aimed at helping young people to understand mental health and what may be happening to them if they experience it. Explaining the experience of mental illness in an accessible and engaging way, this book is fantastic for prompting conversations about emotional wellbeing with young people.
There are various tools accessible through the web that can help to identify areas of mindfulness that could be strengthened, discuss them with others, and recover from them. These resources can help to take control over your emotional wellbeing.
Here to Help self-screening tests
Whilst self-screening tests can never be substituted for medical diagnoses, there are several tests online that can be used as a starting point to identify possible areas of emotional struggles, and track progress. One useful hub for various different screening tests is the Here to Help website, based in Canada. The site offers tests for depression, anxiety and general wellbeing.
“We've been delighted at the international response to the mental well-being screening self-tests we offer on our HeretoHelp website,” says Sarah Hamid-Balma, HeretoHelp content manager. “Screenings are a great and quick way to just pause and check in on yourself and see how you're doing and feeling. The self-tests won't diagnose but they're great for education and reflection. They're also useful conversation-starters, especially if you find you're struggling and need to talk to someone and get help.”
If you would like some form of structure in your own mindfulness routines, the worksheets from Psychology Tools are a great option. These help you to record your progress and prompt good practice with exercises and meditations
The free sheets include thought records for worries, formulation tools, techniques, and more, based around compassion-focused therapy and many other trusted approaches. There are also several information sheets that can be used to share with loved ones to help them relate to your struggles.
Whilst products should never be used in lieu of treatment or activities designed by experts to improve mental health, there are several items on the market that have been designed with wellbeing in mind. Some of these product may help you with meditation, thought tracking, or even simple things like sleep.
The Happiness Planner
The Happiness Planner is a diary with a difference. Using the planner, you can set goals, reflect on what you are grateful for and set goals for improvement – every day. Using the planner can help you to keep track of your emotions and remind you to find the positive in each day. You can also avoid the pressure of a ‘fresh start’ at the beginning of the year by choosing their undated 52-week journal.
Mo Seeteubtim from the creators of the planner explains, “The Happiness Planner is basically designed to help people learn to focus on the positive and becoming more aware of their own thoughts, emotions, and actions. With daily writing prompts that ask people start their day thinking about what they're excited about and ending their day thinking about what they're grateful for, they get into a habit of being more mindful, living in the present moment, and making each day a good day (which consequently makes up for a good week, a good month, and a good year).”
“By practicing these things mentioned above (positive thinking, mindfulness, gratitude, self-development) over and over, one day the new way of thinking (and feeling - because what we think about affects how we feel) will go into your subconscious and become a part of who you are. The next thing you know you've become a naturally positive and resilient person who can stay calm amidst the storm.”
With the development of wearable technology, there are now various gadgets that help individuals keep track of their mindfulness through bodily symptoms. The Leaf Urban sets buyers back a hefty £100. However, it is a sophisticated piece of technology that uses heartbeats, temperature and more to predict stress, measure physical activity, sleep and meditation. It can also guide mindfulness through app reminders of when to ‘take a moment’ in response to the symptoms recorded.
Other products like Muse more specifically support mediation. This brain-sensing headband guides the mind through sounds of weather based on the real-time state of the brain, detected with sensors. At the end of each mediation, the app provides accurate, real-time feedback on how the session went, and provides personalised tracking, motivational challenges and rewards to maximise the success of your meditation program.
Sound of Sleep audio converter
If you suffer from insomnia, you will be relieved to discover the Sound of Sleep audio converter. These audio sleep therapy devices help you get the rest you need with soothing background sounds based on nature that are designed to block out ambient noise and help you relax. The sounds are naturally-recorded in high definition and constantly evolve, eliminating all audio repetition for a real-world experience. With 48 sound categories including ocean, brook, rain, home and more, this product is based on scientific research into sleep therapy, and will help you to enjoy a better night’s sleep.
The BuddyBox is an innovative project allowing people to send a gesture of support in a tangible form to loved ones going through struggles with their mental health. Designed by the Blurt it Out Foundation, the BuddyBox contains various items that help foster mindfulness and wellbeing.
Jayne Hardy from BuddyBox says:
“BuddyBox is a subscription care package, a hug in a box. The contents differ every month and can be personalised with a special note for the receiver. They encourage and provide an opportunity for self-care, which is so important for taking care of your mental health. They are designed to inspire, nourish and comfort. They take some of the effort out of self-care by bringing the opportunity directly to their front door. In purchasing a BuddyBox, you're not just opening the door to self-care, you're helping The Blurt Foundation to facilitate peer support networks for those in need of help and support.”
Many people around the world testify to the success of alternative therapies for encouraging mindfulness. One of the most powerful forms of holistic treatment that you can take into your own home are aromatherapy diffusers. These products harness the natural power of essential oils and diffuse them safely throughout your home. Many also feature ambient colour-changing lights to help ease you into a state of calm. Proven to help lift the mood and relieve stress, aromatherapy diffusers are a great way to cultivate a relaxing environment at home or in the office. Choose calming essential oils such as lavender for maximum effect.
If you have been trying to practice self-hypnosis – a tool that many medical doctors attest is incredibly valuable for conditions such as anxiety – hypnosis CDs will significantly improve the process. Of course, there are many sources online for hypnosis guidance, but sometimes it’s nice to put these devices aside and simply listen. You can find CDs that guide you with many different techniques to do anything from increasing self-confidence to reducing stress.
Mindfulness colouring books
Adult colouring books have become incredibly popular in the last couple of years for an enjoyable way to pass the time, but mindfulness colouring is also a great way to boost emotional wellness. The Mindfulness Coloring Book by Emma Farrarons is perfect for distracting yourself from anxiety or worry, and is pocket-sized, so it can be carried around on the go. With 70 intricate patterns, colouring becomes a form of meditation that focuses on the mind on a relaxing task to de-stress and reset your mind.