The Roo Betty guide to Mental Health
We know all too well from personal experience about Mental Health issues. I won’t bore you with the facts (but if you wanna read who and how many people are affected by Mental Health illness, then here are some FACTS!) - Here is (our) the Roo Betty guide to Mental Health and what options you may have available to you if you live in the UK. - I like to try all my advice before I give it so everything on this list has got the green light from me.
Mental Health is a very large umbrella term used to describe a plethora of conditions from Depression and Anxiety to Bi-Polar and Schizophrenia and Other Psychoses. Let's not forget (pardon the pun) dementia. All mental health disorders have a huge impact on the individual but we shouldn’t discount the effect it has on loved ones and those close to the person affected by mental health problems. So if you happen to be here in the guise of a carer please read on as this may help you too.
Firstly if you or someone you love is suffering from mental health problems. Your first point of call should be your local GP. Here in the UK we are lucky to have this service for FREE but that doesn’t always mean you will be seen in a timely fashion. Please get in touch with your doctor to see which services you will be able to access.
We have had experience of contacting our GP and we were given medication as the first option. We took this option as it is and can be the very starting point you need in order to get a grip of your mental health. The Website MIND has a comprehensive list of all the medications available and you might like to read up on what’s available, as well as the side effects that each drug may incur.
Remember there are many medications you can be offered and each one is different. In our experience it's best to have a talking therapy at the same time as medication. Unfortunately there is usually a very long waiting list for this FREE service and if you happen to be on a long waiting list you may have to wait 3 - 6 months before you get to see anybody. Please do not let this upset you further there are some other options that you may like to look at that may assist you in getting your mental health back on track.
Here are some of the options you may like to investigate in order to assist with your recovery.
- You are never on your own and should always remember that there is someone to talk to for FREE. The Samaritans is just one of these organisations who have a helpline in these instances. Their free phone number is 116 123 (calls within the UK) Please don't suffer in silence. You are important you are loved.
- We support Ditch the Label, they have fantastic resources on their website for the Under 25s. They also provide teaching resources which can be helpful to parents. Their website has forums for group discussion about anything that is troubling you. Check them out.
- We love Young Minds who also have great resources to choose from especially for parents coping with children with mental health issues.
- There are also many self help groups that you might like to join up to. For instance Russel Brand has an online community that delivers useful tips and help for those struggling with addiction as well as mental health issues(self medicating is a term used for those using recreational drugs and alcohol to help manage their mental health - of course this approach often worsens your symptoms so you should try to get help with addictions). Another organisation to check out for help is Alcoholics Anonymous - we have preferred to make our own way by lessening our dependence on alcohol. This has taken us time and patience but was achieved with support as well as open and frank discussions with our loved ones. We preferred this approach as we were not wanting to abstain completely. However if you are really struggling to manage the amount you are drinking we advise seeking help.
- If you have the finances to find a private psychiatrist then we do recommend you go down this route, as it will get you the help you need and quickly. There are many to choose from just by googling Psychiatrists near me. The NHS has a helpful page about this route. I have found this useful when waiting for a free space to become available. Some doctors have reduced rates for those on lower income and it is worth looking out for this. N.B. All Psychiatrists are not created equal so it is worth asking for recommendations as well as maybe trying a few to find the right fit for you also read about your subject its worth knowing all you can.
- Alternative therapy - Again if you have access to finance to help support you through this time. May I suggest the many, many individuals who offer alternative therapies in order to get through this difficult time. In my own experience I found therapists such as Hypnotherapy, Somatic Healing as well as managing pain through massage and the like. These alternative therapies can be just what you need to support yourself during this time. Also many alternative therapists have experienced the same mental health problems you are experiencing which is why they went down this route and now practice themselves. Sometimes it is worth reaching out to people you know and find recommendations. Please see my blog post in relation to these alternative ideas.
- Exercise - this really should be one of your first FREE points of calls. Starting an exercise programme can be one way you help support yourself through this time. There are many Yoga videos on You Tube just search and find something at beginner level ( the link before is Ruth of Roo Betty teaching Yoga that is very suitable for beginners). Of course walking is fantastic and FREE too so , wrap up warm and venture out. It doesn’t need to be a marathon just round the block can be all you need to get those endorphins pumping. If you’re an animal lover perhaps try Borrow my Doggy this can be a great way of getting out and meeting like minded people. Of course your local sports centre or gym may also have classes on that you might like to join ….I do understand the anxiety issues but can promise you that many have been in the same predicament as you so maybe grab a friend to go along with and meet some new people. Many groups often meet for coffee and cake after their fitness session.
- If Exercise is really not a goer for you …..then Craft Making might be just up your street. From knitting to sticking and finding your inner artist, there is quite literally something for everyone. I found going onto facebook events a great way to find people and places with similar interests to you. There are many crafters who do weekly or monthly groups so that you get a taster of a particular craft, this way you get to meet new people and it gets you out of the house. Remember many of these people are in the same predicament as you and feel lonely, depressed or have anxiety issues so never feel you can’t ask the organiser to help you out if you feel nervous about attending. Usually they will understand exactly how you feel because they too have been in your shoes.
- Start your own group …...Now this may be a slow burner so please bear with…..but starting your own Facebook or Instagram group is never a bad thing….make sure you meet in a busy place and always tell someone where you are going. By starting to talk online first it may give you the courage to meet up with others who are feeling the same as you and you are able to give each other support. There are such groups in my area one in particular is called Mental Health Mates and they do events in most major towns and cities.
- Diet covers anything you put into your body. This goes for what you listen to, who you hang around with as well as the food and drink stuff. As a rule avoid substances, by this I mean drugs of any sort including alcohol and painkillers on this list. As these tend to just become an alternative crutch. However I have found some relief with CBD oil and as with every rule there are exceptions. Let's move onto food because this also plays a massive part, if you're eating rubbish then you'll feel rubbish too. So maybe clean up your diet. Fresh fruit and vegetables are really your best medicine. Not used to eating these foods then why not try because believe me they are yummy and worth it. Try googling or maybe checking out You Tube for some great unknown chefs and ways to cook those new found vegetable friends.. As an aside I lowered my intake of gluten and sugar and found this to be beneficial to me.
- Be your own best friend - this may sound completely naff especially if you are in the depths of your depression or not in a fit state to be able to see the woods from the trees (believe me I've been there). but we really do advocate talking kindly to yourself. Talking to yourself as if you were a best friend means you are able to be less judgemental to yourself and able to give yourself encouragement to seek support and get yourself on the road to a more rounded mental health.
- Go easy on yourself, not every day is a “good” day. Sometimes we are looking for a complete fix - remember you are not broken, you are just having a tough time figuring out a situation or finding out who you are and how to manage your emotions. I spent a long time thinking I was broken and this wasn’t the case. Having emotions and feeling them is not a bad thing….the slogan “it’s ok to not be ok“ really does fit this ethos, and on these days I really do rate getting a blanket curling up on the sofa and listening to your favourite tunes this can be as good as a meditation - (see the science behind this approach. Here’s another great site that likes the music approach. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. I promise a good dance around the kitchen can change your mood. Believe me …...I’ve tried it.