Good to talk

1 in 4 people will experience mental health issues at some point during their life. Starting a conversation can be difficult. Discover the do’s and don’ts of broaching the subject.

good to talk infographic

Setting Goals

As the thrill of New Year has passed, you may be feeling like you’re stuck in a limbo; you haven’t achieved your New Year’s resolutions yet and neither have you abandoned them completely. Typically, we find ourselves setting goals that are not attainable and have no real time-frame, so we often give up on them as January passes. Psychologists believe that our goals should be S.M.A.R.T1:








This year, only 1 in 5 people have make a New Years resolution 2. If you’re one of those people that don’t make any New Years goal, or find it difficult to maintain one, here are some tips on how to help you set yourself goals and maintain them.


Step 1 – Check in with your motivations and ask yourself, why do you want to achieve this goal? If you find that your are struggling to come up with a ‘Why’, you might struggle to stick with your goal! One common resolution that people tend to set is to stay active throughout the year. Here are some of the reasons why this goal is important:


Being physically active can result in several long-term health benefits, including a reduced risk of developing depression by 30%3. Research also suggests that exercise can act as a buffer for cognitive decline and lower the risk of suffering from dementia in later life.


It is recommended that you should exercise for 150 minutes per week so that you benefit from long-term implications of exercise; this would equate to 30 minutes five times a day. In order to achieve this you could aim to walk/cycle to work throughout February. Alternatively, if you don’t like the cold, challenge yourself to try a new sport for the next four weeks. Make sure you pick something that you feel able to do and remember to ask yourself, what are trying to gain from this? Exercise can also produce immediate benefits too! Research suggests that walking for 15 to 30 minutes a day can help boost your mood. Likewise, it can help make you feel more awake and calmer 4.


Step 2 – Define what S.M.A.R.T goal is and write it down! By ensuring that you develop S.M.A.R.T. goals, you are less likely to give up on them and maintain a positive mindset that is needed to keep you motivated.


Step 3 – Make yourself accountable to someone – tell a friend or family what your goals are. Alternatively, buddy up with someone and join the gym today. This can keep you motivated so that you continue to work on your goal.


Step 4 – Be kind to yourself – it takes time to get into the habit of regularly achieve your goal. Remember, if you don’t manage to go for a run, or cycle to work one day, tomorrow is a new day to have another go.


Make February your new January and have a go at working on your new S.M.A.R.T goals.


Blue Monday



The third Monday in January has become known and reported on widely as Blue Monday – the most depressing day of the year.


Its demonization is based on our Christmas warm glow beginning to vanish, whilst the weather worsens and the bills from our wonderful holiday season start to land on our doormats and inboxes. Add that most of our well-intended resolutions have now fallen by the wayside, (I’ve yet to start my 2019 fitness revolution – I blame the truck load of Christmas goodies that appeared in our house and although now hidden in cupboards, are still calling my name!), this is not the jolliest time of the year.


So what can we do?


Many, including the Samaritans are using this day to promote doing something good for yourself and others, supporting those around you at a time when we are all feeling a little bit ‘urgh’. Checking in on others and ourselves, will have a huge impacted on our communities and I hope those around me always feel I am there for them, but is it time for me to step up and proactively show that I am.


So, here is my promise on this Blue Monday:


– I promise to arrange that coffee with the gang, the one that I’ve been meaning to do since the start of November.


– I promise, after numerous failed attempts last year, to actually go and see a film with my film loving friend.


– And I promise to finally put the biscuits down and start my fitness plan.


So, let’s make a deal on this Blue Monday to check in with ourselves and our family and friends. Call that friend you’ve been meaning to call for ages and just haven’t got around to it, put down your phone and start that book or simply give someone who is looking down a hug or a smile. It’s amazing the impact a small gesture can make to someone. Plus, it’s never too late to start or restart those New Year’s resolutions.


And remember the #asktwice campaign, if you sense something is not quite right, don’t take their first ‘ok’ as an answer, ask again and see if there is something more needed.


Now, off to find my phone and make that call (wonder what cake the coffee shop will have in this week, I mean fruit salad 😊).

Anti-bullying awareness week

Bullying presents in many different forms and vary between demographics. It is important to recognise the consequences of bullying in order to understand the significance of why intervention is needed. For example, the transition from childhood to adulthood can be negatively impacted by the long-term effects of bullying. Adults who have been bullied report difficulty forming lasting relationships, integrating into work and being economically independent1.




Children aged 5 – 12 reported they got bullied the most for their appearance (55%), followed by body shape (37%) and race (16%)2. Other factors that can increase the likelihood of bullying occurring can include; differences in race/faith, academic ability, gender identity and a lack of assertiveness/being shy3.


A similar trend in bullying can be found in adolescents whereby appearance is the greatest risk factor for bullying (57%). Additional factors include their interests/hobbies (40%), sexuality (20%) and their disability (11%)4. Teenagers who have been bullied report having low self-esteem (23%), suffer from depression (50%) and take up smoking as a smoking as a coping mechanism5.


Other types of bullying that is more common in teenagers is cyberbullying; this is any bullying that takes place online and/or via smartphone6. In 2017, a survey found the highest rates of cyberbullying occurred on Instagram (42%), followed by Facebook (37%)7. With an increasing number of young people using social media, it worrying to see that 71% of teens believe social networks aren’t doing enough to avoid cyberbullying.




Bullying that happens in the workplace is more difficult to define. It is likely that several cases get unnoticed and therefore aren’t reported. Despite this, it’s believed that the rate of ill-treatment in the workplace is increasing in Britain. In 1998, 7% of employers reported receiving incidents relating to workplace bullying; this percentage rose to 11% in 20118.


What does workplace bullying look like?


Personal accounts from employees have reported they had experienced bullying in the form of:9




Overall health is poorer in children and adults who have been bullied. This is believed to be due to an alteration in physiological response to stress in these individuals. This can increase the risk of developing various mental health disorders. Early childhood bullying has been linked to the development of:10

–          Borderline personality disorder (BPD)

–          Psychotic experiences (e.g. hallucinations and delusions)

–          Depression and/or anxiety, as well as suicidal ideations and attempts


Other effects include:

–          Adults who have been bullied in childhood are more likely to earn less than their peers at the age of 50.

–          In 2011, 16,000 young people missed school due to bullying in the UK. This is likely to result in lower educational qualifications and difficulty managing finance.




When you see someone being bullied, it can also be distressing for you – only intervene when it’s safe. Don’t put yourself in danger by confronting the bully; almost half the time, challenging the bully can worsen the situation. Instead, it is more effective if you spend time with the victim and talk to them. Allowing them to have a safe space to talk about their circumstances can improve the situation by up to 41%11. 


If you see someone being bullied online, one quick fix to help combat this is to report the comment/profile, which can help block the bully from the site. However, it’s also important to encourage young people to tell an adult if they are being bullied. This has proven to be the most successful strategy in dealing with the situation. It is also vital to ensure the right intervention is given for an effective outcome12. Checking in with the young person after some time to see if the bullying has stopped is an effective start to improving the situation.





Falling back in time

It’s that time of year again, when the clocks go back signalling the end of British Summer Time. For many this has meant an extra hour asleep, but for some the change can have a significant impact on their quality of sleep.


Lack of sleep can affect our mental and physical health, increasing the risk of strokes, diabetes and dementia, as well as stress and depression.


Below are some tips to help you sleep better.


Sleep tips info