Mental Health Matters

This Mental Health Awareness Week, we chatted to two Bluebird Care staff members about the challenges and importance of managing mental health on a daily basis.

18/05/2021

This Mental Health Awareness Week, we chatted to two Bluebird Care staff members about the challenges and importance of managing mental health on a daily basis.

Last month we looked at the impact of stress and how to deal with it when things get difficult. However, ‘in the grip’ stress is just one side of the coin when it comes to managing mental health. It’s just as important to give yourself a solid emotional foundation, so that you’re more able to cope when things get tricky.

For Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re looking at why that matters now more than ever.

Why mental health matters

The importance of Mental Health Awareness Week has never been more apparent.

According to mental health charity Mind, on any given year a quarter of all people in the UK experience a mental health problem of some kind. And that’s not accounting for the past 12 months of pandemic living, during which rates of loneliness, anxiety and depression went up notably, according to the British Medical Journals.

Portrait of Lauren, Blue Bird Care assistant“Over the past year, if anybody hasn’t had a mental health problem, I’d be exceptionally surprised,” says Lauren, a care assistant at Bluebird Gosport. “In fact, I’d love to know how they’ve done it!” 

Lauren has been with Bluebird since December 2019, and like people in every walk of life, admits to experiencing her own mental health challenges during the pandemic.

Yet at the same time, she’s remarkably positive about the situation – bullish, even. “When things get bad, I remember that they’d be so much worse if I wasn’t doing what I am doing,” she says. “Without carers, things would be so much worse for our customers. It keeps me strong for them, knowing that they’re counting on me for support.”

The impacts of bad and good mental health

Another member of our team, Stuart, has spent over four years juggling his office responsibilities at Bluebird Care with running a part-time practice as a qualified hypnotherapist, NLP practitioner and transformational coach.

Blue Bird Care Colleague, Stuart “Negative mental health can be a bit of a downward spiral really,” he reflects. “If you think of it like a thermometer, if you’re at a nine out of ten ‘heat’ with your stress levels, it doesn’t take a lot to throw you over into depression and anxiety. Bringing it down to a nice low level allows you to take things in your stride more.” 

“It’s almost compartmentalising,” he continues. “For our carers, for instance, they inevitably lose customers they’ve become very fond of. So, if they look after their mental health, it keeps their internal mental boundaries strong, which means they don’t get so attached that it stops them from caring for others. It means they can still do the job they love doing, even when things get tough. That can be a really fine line to draw.”

Stuart’s comments are something Lauren wholeheartedly agrees with. “Working in care, there aren’t a lot of people you can talk to who’ll understand, who’ve seen the things we see. Thankfully, everyone at Bluebird is hugely supportive; they provide care to their carers as well as their customers.

“Now the world’s opening back up, we’ve started having coffee mornings where we can all talk and diffuse. I feel really lucky I have that support network around me – at work and at home. It’s incredibly important.”

Managing mental health daily

As crucial as a support network is, it also helps to manage mental health matters on a day-to-day basis.

“I prefer to think of mental health more as mental fitness,” says Stuart. “The terminology changes people’s idea of what it is. When you say ‘mental health,’ people immediately think along the lines of mental illness. But when you say ‘mental fitness,’ it gives people the idea they can be proactive in managing it.

“If I said to you that you need to be fitter, you’d probably think about getting your trainers on, going to the gym, those kinds of things. You’d be active in that journey. So when you think about mental fitness, you start to see there are things you can do to make yourself more resilient, mentally fitter, and therefore healthier.”

How to cope with mental health issues

Close-up of care assistant hands together holding palm of her patient

Asked how he’d suggest managing mental health matters (or ‘mental fitness’), Stuart pauses, his face wrinkled in a slight frown.

“You can go online and find lists and lists of the top 50 things to improve your self-esteem or mental health – and to be honest, you can do any of them.

“But what that is specifically… well, it’s hard giving that answer. In terms of how to deal with mental health issues, it can be anything. From taking time for yourself to switch off; to being outside; to exercise or meditation.

“The truth is that it has to be individual. What really matters is finding what’s right for you, making time for it, and doing it regularly.

Asked the same question, Lauren is a little more specific.

“Reach out. To anyone. Because even if people don’t always understand, they’ll listen. Reaching out is really important, it’s so much harder to keep things to yourself. Having someone you can talk to is so important, and listening is such a wonderful thing.

“And that goes if you’re trying to help someone else, too,” she continues. “Recognise that you may not be able to fix the problem, but you can be there, and they can feel safe talking to you. It makes such a world of difference to have that communication - especially in what has recently been such a closed world.”

Are your mental health matters all a bit much?

At Bluebird Care Gosport, we don’t just care because it’s our job – we do what we do because we care. So if you need some respite while caring for a loved one, or you find yourself in need of a little extra support, we’ll be there when you need us.

Get in touch today to find out how.