Covid – 19 Update 2

This disease is a stark reminder to humanity that we aren’t in absolute control of everything that happens on this planet. There are forces, benevolent and malevolent, that affect us, surprise us and ultimately humble us. Together, we’ll get through this crises and beyond.Every generation faces daunting challenges and here we are in the midst of another challenge, Covid – 19.

In these circumstances, the psychologist reminds the general public about mental health. There’s an awareness of the consequences to mental health resulting from the threat of a disease with no cure, the possibility of self isolation, and not knowing when the pandemic might end. The advice being offered, especially when self isolating, is be mentally and physically active. Learn at home, work from home, exercise from home, but stay at home. Self isolation doesn’t need to be complete inactivity. We will get through this together.

Covid -19 Update

The deluge of information about the corona virus is permeated with misunderstandings and dire warnings. Will sensible approaches prevail? Face masks? Don’t bother. Hand washing? Yes, and frequently every day. School closures? Possibly. Economic disruption? Definitely. Lockdown? Worst case scenario. Stock piling? Not necessary, but panic buying and hoarding are occurring. Has the virus peaked in China? Possibly.

The Government seems to have a four phase plan in place that addresses many contingencies and it’s best summed up as “plan for the worst and hope for the best”. I feel the British as a whole will be patient, stoic and will go about their lives as unaffected as possible. Stay calm and carry on.

Covid – 19

Globally, we’re on the threshold of a pandemic. Since January we’ve watched with growing trepidation as the disease took hold in China. The virus has crossed oceans, invaded the Middle East and has taken hold in Europe as I write. Covid-19 is fatal to about 2% of those who contract the virus. Dire warnings have been issued that its not a question of if the virus takes hold globally, but when. The virus is here in the UK with numbers of those affected increasing daily.

Tens of thousands die of flu every year without so mush as a blip in the news, but the coronavirus forces us to confront something new, something deadly to some, something potentially uncontrollable. It’s that sense of an unseen threat that penetrates our consciousness. We wait to see how events unfold.Perhaps the great pandemic we’ve been expecting for so long has arrived.

Transitioning

I’ve titled this blog exactly the same but within a different context. In this instance I’m referring to people transitioning their gender: male to female or female to male. With a combination of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and surgery, gender transition is a reality. The entire process isn’t straight forward by any means and those transitioning face misunderstanding and prejudice from friends, family, the medical community and society at large. Just engaging the medical process can be very time consuming and those transitioning face decisions about private medical options or those offered by the NHS, or both.

Often, a person transitioning needs counselling and emotional support. I feel it’s very important that therapists familiarise themselves with this aspect of society, understand the issues facing a person transitioning and be prepared to provide support and counselling. If a fair and just society is inclusive, then it needs to be inclusive in a broad sense and that includes people transitioning.

Therapy is For Everyone.

Over the years, I’ve stated on several occasions that the need for therapies (talking therapy, counselling, hypnotherapy) transcends age, gender, race, creed or social standing. Even princes acknowledge the value of therapy and are up front about acquiring therapy themselves.

Quoting Sky News, Prince Harry stated in a recent speech in the US that he’s been receiving therapy to help him come to terms with the loss of the mother. As a practising therapist, I sincerely appreciate his honesty and frankness and I have little doubt he’ll receive the help and support he needs.

There’s no shame in seeking and finding support for emotional issues. We’re designed to be social creatures and we fully realise ourselves as humans by interaction with others, particularly when we’re in distress. Thank you Prince Harry for furthering the cause of therapy and may you find the solace and insight you deserve.

Post Christmas Debt and Despair.

Many people in the UK received their monthly pay on or around December 21st instead of at the end of the month. The rationale was obvious: pay people in advance so they have funds for Christmas. Unfortunately, many people are now experiencing a phenomenon called “January has 40 days”. This is the time from the December 2019 pay until the next paycheque. Many thousands of people already struggling financially, have been driven to despair by this situation.

There is a correlation between debt and mental health. People struggling financially are much more likely to be depressed or worse. In fact, 50% of people in debt have mental health issues such as depression. Debt and depression can lead to thoughts of taking one’s life in sheer desperation. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) has recently been inundated by calls from people struggling to pay council tax, utility payments and rent arrears. What’s striking is that a sizeable proportion of calls to the CAB regarding debt are from young and middle aged men.

The CAB provides excellent support and information for people in debt. As an experienced therapist, I can provide support for depression associated with debt. People shouldn’t suffer needlessly. Debt and depression can be overcome.

Children’s Wellbeing: Five Questions.

Katherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, has launched an initiative to bring the issues of children’s wellbeing and mental health into a national debate with five questions. The questions are structured to help gauge a person’s awareness of their and society’s role in nurturing confidence, self esteem and general well being in children. While this was being explained, the BBC news clip showed the Duchess visiting a primary school and actively engaging with young pupils.

Children’s wellbeing and mental health has received some well deserved attention in recent years. Parents and educators are much more aware of the need to nurture confidence and self esteem within an accepting environment, but that these positive attributes ultimately begin at home. As a mother of three, the Duchess understands this completely. Widely admired and respected, I’m sure she will further raise awareness of these important issues.

PTSD

A veteran and a psychotherapist were interviewed on the BBC Saturday morning. The issue was post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. The veteran had been suffering with PTSD for a considerable time with no support or even acknowledgment. He stated that while he was aware that something was amiss, he buried or disavowed his emotional distress. Despite his distress, he was functioning in society and his emotional turmoil went unrecognised by friends and acquaintances. Eventually, seeking help and support, and struggling to find support, he turned to counselling and psychotherapy.

The psychotherapist not only understood the veteran’s circumstances, but knew how to address PTSD in an effective and compassionate manner. A traumatic event imprinted on memory, surrounded with emotional conflict leads to PTSD. The psychotherapist understood that the sufferer had to revisit the traumatic event. With guidance and support the traumatic event is integrated and it’s emotional impact is lessened without loss of memory. Terror, guilt and shame are diminished and the traumatic memory is drained of its negative emotions and placed within a context that allows for emotional stability. Suffering with PTSD is debilitating but there is effective help and support for sufferers.I’m very pleased this story was aired on the BBC.

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.