Wellbeing Workshop – Health and Wellbeing Theme, University of Portsmouth

The University of Portsmouth’s Health and Wellbeing Theme recently hosted their first Wellbeing Workshop:

Dr Wendy Sims-Schouten attended the University of Portsmouth’s Wellbeing Workshop on Tuesday 24th April at which she presented The MICE Hub to an audience of approximately fifty University of Portsmouth staff from across faculties and chaired a breakout session around wellbeing in childhood and education.

Increasing outreach for the MICE Hub:

Dr Sims-Schouten explained the purpose of the Mental Health in Education Hub and invited all attendees to book a place for the MICE Hub’s second Mental Health Awareness Event to take place on Thursday 17th May. A plethora of research is taking place across the University linked to the MICE Hub including projects specifically linked to wellbeing in childhood and education.

Reaching an interested audience:

The MICE Hub was well received and generated interest for the breakout session which included discussions around the support of autism in higher education and how technology could be used to improve this which linked to ideas around inclusivity and assessment and how to ensure assessment is for learning rather than of learning.

Potential for future collaboration and projects:

The ideas generated during this workshop will be considered for their potential to develop in to project proposals with the aim of generating external funding linked to the health and wellbeing theme so that impactful research linking to wellbeing in childhood and education can take place. This will be facilitated by follow-up sessions to be organised by the Health and Wellbeing Theme Director, Professor Gordon Blunn.

Self-Care for Kids

Too Much Pressure

With increasing environmental challenges and pressures on children and young people today including digital devices, exam pressure, and an increasingly challenging economic climate; perhaps a move towards empowering today’s young people by helping them to help themselves, in other words, self-care, is the way forward?

Sources of Support

Several charities specialising in mental health for young people have already held campaigns this year aimed at supporting self-care approaches, including Time to Change’s Time to Talk Day campaign held on Thursday 1st February 2018 with the slogan, ‘Change Your Mind’. The charity states,

Since Time to Talk Day first launched in 2014, it has sparked millions of conversations in schools, homes, workplaces, in the media and online.

Another example is ‘University Mental Health Day’ which took place on Thursday 1st March 2018, and was run jointly by Student Minds and UMHAN, and sponsored by Unite Students who run under the slogans, “Community Starts Here,” and “We Empower You.” Unite students recently launched the Common Room, a community Hub that provides resources to support students.

Young Minds provides a wide range of resources specifically designed for children and young people, and their parents, carers, teachers and others who work with them. Their #HelloYellow campaign is run on World Mental Health Day, which this year takes place on Wednesday 10th October.

 

The State of Children’s Mental Health

Despite these efforts, recent evidence shows that children’s mental health continues to decline and that stigma (another word for discrimination) is still a predominant issue when it comes to encouraging children to talk about how they are feeling. The Children’s Society’s Good Childhood Report highlights some increasing concerns regarding children’s overall wellbeing and Young Minds present statistics on various aspects of young people’s mental health. Time to Change have taken a look at how widespread discrimination surrounding mental health is still prevalent, which was presented publicly in their ‘Heads Together’ campaign in conjunction with the Royal Family.

Empowering Kids to Overcome these Challenges

It is clear that the challenges of our environment are unlikely to change in our children’s lifetimes and with technology only becoming more advanced, these challenges are only likely to increase. But what if we can empower our children to take charge of how they manage these challenges and improve their mental health and wellbeing. Self-help tools including Mobile Apps, CBT, Mindfulness are a few examples. CAMHS stress the important of nutrition and exercise on their ‘Taking care of myself’ page and the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families has put together a Toolkit for Schools.

For the Future

Perhaps there is still scope for further improvement to what’s already available? Discussions surrounding disjointed and inadequate mental health services for children have lasted for decades. Governments and policy makers are still striving for improvements and charities continue to redouble their efforts to make the message clear. Perhaps working on awareness needs to take another step forward and include our children directly, what if we asked children and young people to be more involved. Maybe a focus on increasing accessibility and improving what’s already out there so our children can find these tools and use them effectively with or without adult support is the next step.

That Festive Feeling

Winter is here and this time of year is often associated with feelings of happiness and joy. But the reality for many is often quite different and can leave them feeling down in the dumps.

From financial pressure to family feuds; there are many reasons why the festive season brings only stress and worry for some. And for others, it may be a case of feeling those winter blues. SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a fairly common phenomenon thought to be caused by a lack of exposure to sunlight.

Often it’s a case of being patient and waiting it out, but there are a few things you can do to help get you back on track for some Christmas cheer.

 

  1. Get outside – even just 15 minutes may be enough to help improve your overall wellbeing through the winter months. If this isn’t possible, try to sit near a window or invest in a SAD lamp or ‘light box’, this is meant to mimic natural sunlight, although their effectiveness is still debated.

 

  1. Take regular exercise – preferably outside if possible. There are now several studies which suggest that exercise is as effective as drug therapy for the treatment of mood disorders.

 

 

  1. Eat a healthy diet – this goes without saying, overall good health and wellbeing is far more achievable if your body is receiving the correct balance of nutrients and energy.

 

  1. Talking therapies – there are different options available through the NHS if you wish to do this formally. Alternatively, ensure you meet regularly with friends who you can talk about your feelings with and live an active social life or join a local social group in your area. Interacting with others can help to boost mood significantly.

 

 

  1. Volunteer – helping others is a sure fire way to boost your move and what better time of year is there to do it than at Christmas! There are many vulnerable groups of people who require support; including the homeless and those living in poverty. Volunteering at a food bank or even just donating a few spare tins could really help make a difference to someone’s Christmas this year.

*To reference/cite this blog as follows: The MICE Hub, Friday 22nd December 2017, That Festive Feeling.*

*Please note: All opinions expressed are that solely of the MICE Hub and its associates*