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  • Writer's pictureMike Douglas

Learning How To Talk About Mental Health

Recently I went for dinner with my friend Jess, we spoke about a few things and one of them really got me thinking.

Does working within the mental health community make me struggle more with my own mental health? My answer, fairly quickly, was no. But I found the reasons why quite interesting.

As part of my job I deliver training, workshops, presentations and talks on mental health. This can include awareness, conversation starting, wellbeing, workplace mental health, managing conversations and being a campaigner.

Some of these sessions include discussing tools, models and tips on how to support mental wellbeing and how to better understand mental health and mental health struggles.

When I was talking with Jess, I realised how much I gain from repeatedly talking about and using these tools. So, I thought I would share some of them with you.

5 Areas Model

This is something you will be familiar with if you have ever had CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). It helps you to identify was was/ is actually happening when you are having difficult moments. For me it has helped to identify and recognise that I have a lot of thoughts running through my head, but often there is just one core emotion that I am feeling/ struggling with.

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5 Ways To Wellbeing

This model has helped me in a slightly different way. Less so for identifying what I am doing, and more so for looking at what I would like to do more of. Or what I am maybe missing out on.

You don't have to do all of these and some tasks could fit more than one section. I managed to fit eating Pringles into all five areas, haha.

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The Mental Health Spectrum

Mental health effects everyone, and this model is a great way to show that. Just as we all sit on the dyslexic or autistic spectrum, we also sit on the mental health spectrum.

We all have symptoms of mental health illness as we do dyslexia or autism. Some of us will have certain things we do that could be considered symptoms, however they don't affect our way of living or our day to day life. Thus, we would not be diagnosed with an illness. Some people, like myself are affected by certain symptoms to an extent that our lives and living are affected, and so we are diagnosed with a mental health illness.

This spectrum also helps to highlight mental health is not just about illness, it is about wellness too.

While the image below makes it look like you may only move in one direction, you can move either way.

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I have found scaling really helpful to recognise the small things I am/ have already achieved. Plus the small changes I could make that would potentially make a big difference to how I feel about myself.

Scaling involves picking a certain thing you would like to improve and plotting yourself on the scale. Then rather than aiming for 10/10 (very unrealistic for me), picking a realistic target. So if I'm feeling a 3, aiming for a 5 would be a realistic aim. Then working out what you could do to get yourself to a place where you feel a 5.

That's a few tools/ models I have found particularly useful over the last 9 or so months. I am sure many of you will have your own tools that have been helpful. Please feel free to share those in the linked social media posts, I would love to hear whats been helpful for you.

Until next time, remember, you are not alone.

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