Economic Uncertainty and Emotional Stability

Post Christmas economic reports are being issued by large domestic retailers and the results seem as gloomy as a grey January day. The economy isn’t about to fall off a cliff, far from it, but the conviction that the economy must grow endlessly is being seriously challenged.

So where’s the mindset of the UK citizen today? As gloomy as a grey January day, obsessed with economic reports and predictions? Not really. People are investing in their emotional well being. Yes, I’m helping people manage their weight, but I’m also helping people clarify a new direction in life or enhance the determination to achieve goals and aspirations. In the aftermath of December,people are focusing on wellbeing. When optimism and determination are restored, the gloom is dispelled even in January. Even with economic uncertainty, we can achieve and sustain emotional stability.

Take a Minute

Mental health awareness, and the acceptance of being able to discuss mental health, continues to advance. Professional sport in the UK is taking a leading role. Prince William is the head of the Football Association (FA), and he’s been very involved in promoting an open and honest discussion among professional football players, of both genders, about mental health.

There are about 30 matches being played in the FA Cup today and each match will begin 1 minute after the hour or half hour so that members of the public attending watch a video promoting mental health awareness with Prince William narrating. Everyone at these matches will literally “take a minute”. The video promotes openness in such a way as to dispel any stigma associated with admitting mental health issues. The point of promoting openness and honesty is that honesty, in an accepting environment, leads to the very real possibility of help and help leads to the very real possibility of understanding and mental health improvement.

I’m very impressed by the efforts of Prince William and the FA and I hope these efforts can be sustained. Mental health awareness is for everyone.

Winter Election 2019.

I’ve been of voting age since 1978 in Canada firstly, and the United Kingdom latterly. I can’t recall ever voting in December and the fact we’re having an election in this country two weeks before Christmas seems like political desperation. No one, regardless of persuasion, really wants an election now. With the turmoil of the last three years, the powers that be are hoping for one last chance for clarity and stability before the year is through.

This country is fragmenting politically, although the outcome on December 12th may not reflect that. The frustration and disillusion with politics and politicians is so deep and pervasive that most of us feel we’re voting for our least unpalatable option. This is a truly unfortunate situation and one that doesn’t bode well for the future. Political disaffection at this point in our collective history would be a mistake. So we will have our winter election. Let’s see where it takes us.

Election 2019: Mental Health Funding. 

If the election pledges of all the major political parties are to be believed, the days of austerity are over and the next government is prepared to spend. Political parties are vying to make the most expensive pledges for infrastructure, policing, schools, carbon neutral energy policies, maternity leave, flood defences and the NHS. Funding for all these are important if not vital. In regards the NHS, there have been promises to ensure there are more doctors and nurses and more money for counselling and therapy for people of all ages who need it.

All these pledges and promises are welcome, but are they realistic? How will they be funded? All the main parties admit that spending will be the consequence of borrowing and therefore the pledges and promises are pitched as social investments. I welcome funding for more access to counselling and therapy, but I remain skeptical that an adequate level of funding will be forthcoming in the light of other pressing needs, regardless of who sits in Downing Street. We’ll have to be patient and we’ll have to wait and see. No one wants to be disillusioned any further.

Election: Collective Therapy?

The UK Parliament appears impotent or completely dysfunctional, and while there’s an element of truth to these points of view we’re seeing the consequences of a minority government. Parliament, or “the system”, isn’t broken no matter what the politicians or commentators might say.

There’s been reluctant agreement among all political parties that politicians must submit themselves to the will of the people in a December election. We’re heading into an election where there’s no real appetite for it and not within living memory has the outcome, or outcomes, been more in doubt. Perhaps this will be an election where the nation vents it’s collective frustration. Every sitting MP in the land will be wondering if they’ll be unemployed by Christmas.So this is a form of collective therapy with a very uncertain outcome.

More Therapy for the Therapist.

Therapists need to be calm, aware, patient, focussed, present, empathic and responsive. At the same time, while seeing several clients per week, the issues in a therapist’s life must take a backseat to the needs of the client. The risk is that the issues of clients might eventually overwhelm a therapist unless he or she has support in the form of counselling or therapy for themselves. It seems sensible and logical for therapists to have ongoing support, but some therapists don’t get the support they need.

I’ve mentioned previously that I have monthly sessions with another therapist for support and understanding. This is vital to my well being but in addition to monthly sessions, I’m looking at extending my therapy to include meditation, grounding and art. Over the course of a work week it’s completely understandable that the batteries get partially drained, but it’s equally important the batteries are recharged and they can be. From this week onwards, therapy for the therapist has taken on a multidisciplinary approach.

Brexit and the National Mental Health.

I’ve been speculating in previous blogs about the relationship between the whole Brexit issue and the state of our national mental health. Well, now its official. A university study has recently been released confirming that over 40% of people in the UK claim their mental health has been been negatively affected by the three year old Brexit issue. The announcement on the BBC was prefaced with the fact that Brexit has divided friendships, marriages, families and communities. Passions run high on both sides of the ongoing debate.

I think the country has been exhausted and exasperated by this issue and the hope is that there’s some form of compromise and a step forward today. Unfortunately, nothing seems certain and that collective sense of doubt is what’s stressing the psyche of the nation and impacting mental health. Whatever’s ultimately decided will have made an impact that will probably out live many of us. Will our national mental health ever recover completely?

Hypnotherapy and Economic Reality.

I qualified as a hypnotherapist in 2006. Qualification was the culmination of ambition, effort and circumstance. I embarked upon a new career with optimism and zeal. Within a year, the initial forebodings of the looming financial crises were beginning to reverberate through financial institutions. By 2008 we, the entire UK, were in a full blown recession. Were clients scarce? Definitely. Did I give up? Definitely not. I simply took a part time job to supplement my meagre earnings in the certainty economic times would improve.

Fast forward to 2019. Did economic times improve? Gradually, but yes. Certain aspects of free wheeling capitalism required some regulation to achieve that. Inflation was low as were increases in salaries and wages. So was I able to give up the part time jobs and enjoy hypnotherapy full time? I tried more than once and couldn’t. Could I have done more? More advertising? More networking?  More social media? On the whole, I’d have to say no. So my advice to anyone considering a full time career as a therapist is go for it. It’s incredibly rewarding, but don’t give up your day job.

A Meeting of Minds.

Almost every week I have a calm conversation with a prospective client, or the partner of a prospective client, to dispel the misconception that I’m a hypnotist and that I’m “going to get into their mind.” While I’m not a stage performing hypnotist, I can with acquired trust, “get into their mind.”

Each session is about hypnotherapy. I describe the process as guided meditation or a massage for the soul and yet with each session there’s an ongoing dialogue that falls within the remit of counselling. The counselling aspect of the hypnotherapy session can be just as important as the hypnotherapy itself. Hypnotherapy appeals to the emotional/irrational/subconscious aspect of the mind, and the dialogue/counselling aspect appeals to the rational functioning of the mind. When these aspects of the mind meet is when real and lasting change occurs. It’s hypnotherapy and a meeting of the minds.

Mental Health in University

The BBC reported recently that British universities need to take responsibility for the mental health of their students. The news report was written in response to a government report that highlighted the number of recent suicides on UK campuses. Having read a prospectus for each of several UK universities I’m reassured that mental, physical and emotional well being is very much in focus. Perhaps what the BBC report needed to state more specifically is that universities need to be prepared to address mental illness. 

Sadly, many young people arrive at university with fragile mental health and the demands of post education can be overwhelming. Students need access to counselling and other forms of holistic therapy such as CBT, yoga, meditation and yes, hypnotherapy. Medication should be the last resort, not the first. Parents need to be kept informed by universities if their sons or daughters are suffering mentally. I feel universities are prepared to engage at this level, but it comes down to appropriate staffing and therefore funding.  With timely and appropriate intervention, I believe many if not most suicides on campus can be avoided.