On the Road to Suicide Awareness: Gulu, Uganda

January 7, 2020 / Vin Lewin  / 
Gulu, Mental Illness

Trigger Warning: this article deals with suicide. Please read at your own discretion. 

Having spent much of my recent work time dedicated to suicide awareness and suicide prevention in Sheffield, England I was privileged to be offered the opportunity to travel to Africa to share the skills I have learned and to learn more from our mental health care partners in Kampala and Gulu, Uganda. Sheffield Health & Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, through the Gulu Sheffield Mental Health Partnership (GSMHP) which has been working in Uganda since 2012. As well as working on the development of this newly funded suicide prevention project members of the visiting team were also focused on helping to re-certify hospital staff in RESPECT techniques as a part of a longer running Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) funded project.

RESPECT is a non-confrontational, de-escalation based way of managing potential violence and aggression that minimizes the need for physical restraint and restrictive practice by positively harnessing an individual’s unique personal strengths in managing difficult situations. RESPECT training techniques have been shared with key staff at the Gulu Regional Referral Hospital since 2012 and the results of this partnership work have been a phenomenal success in both Sheffield and Gulu. As a junior nurse, I remember attending 5-day courses on Preventing and Managing Violence and Aggression (PMVA) where they were essentially teaching me how to restrain people with holds akin to those used by the police to restrain violent criminals. Thankfully in Sheffield and in Gulu, the use of those techniques is well and truly a thing of the past and the experiences of the service users now play a key part in understanding how to manage potentially difficult and confrontational situations.


Why Your Childhood Matters to Your Mental Health as an Adult

January 30, 2020 / Alex Hanna  / 
baggage, childhood

We all hear that our childhood experiences impact our lives as adults — to varying degrees based on who you speak to and what you believe. But wherever you fall on the “nature vs. nurture” spectrum, one thing is undeniable: we all have childhood experiences that creep into our memories as adults, whether good or bad.

If you grew up with a physically abusive or emotionally abusive parent, for example, that tends to stick with you into your adult years and affect your mental health. That’s not to say that people who were abused as children can’t or don’t grow up to be perfectly functioning human beings — they do. It just means that they may have different baggage than other people. Let’s face it, we all carry around baggage of some sort. What it looks like and how heavy it is will change, that’s all. Regardless, no matter what the circumstances of your upbringing were, you were affected.

So what do you do about it?


You Are Enough

January 21, 2020 / Alex Hanna  / 

When you doubt yourself and feel like you don’t deserve happiness, remember that you are enough. (Published on Medium)

when you learn that you
are enough
you see the world
you see the world
in color
instead of the black and white
to which
you’ve become accustomed
your face shines bright
in the mirror; illuminates
the dark room
where you once hid
you stand taller
you smile wider
people see you
for the beauty
which you exude
with every waking breath
you attract goodness 
and joy
and share these gifts
with those
around you
you stop trying
to be that person
wants you
to be
weight lifted
you can breath
because you know
just as you are
that you
are enough
~ A. Hanna

Why I Started a Mental Health Newsletter

January 14, 2020 / Jordan Brown  / 

The worst things are the best things. I believe that with every fiber of my being. When my mom had a mental health crisis, I had to make the difficult decision to force her to get help.  I felt so guilty. I cried when we left her at the hospital. But she’s better now. It was the right move to make. Later on, she encouraged me to get help when I struggled with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Again, it was the right move to make. This all came about after open-heart surgery, at the age of 24, that I never thought I would need to have. The surprise surgery was terrifying, but it wasn’t the hardest part. The emotional recovery was.

No surgeon, nurse, or other medical professional warned me of the post-surgery emotional impact that is so common for so many after invasive surgery. These experiences—the mental health crises—among the accumulation of many, many smaller ones, led me down a path to become a lifelong mental health advocate.  I feel it’s my calling. I know it is.

It’s why I went back to graduate school to become a social worker. And it’s why I launched an ambitious mental health project three weeks ago. I just launched a daily email newsletter called The Mental Health Update. It’s a concise update sent in the morning and packed with timeless wisdom from a mental health perspective. It’s all about helping people start their day in a thoughtful way.

Why did I do it? Because I wanted to. But, really, there were reasons.


Stop These Bad Habits to Improve Your Personal Life

January 7, 2020 / Emma Grace Brown  / 
bad habits

If you aren’t happy in your personal life, you aren’t alone. According to the 2019 World Happiness Report, the United States is ranked 19th in happiness. This is a decline compared to previous years. While you can’t control the world around you, you can control how it affects you. Certain bad habits may be negatively impacting your emotional well-being, without you even realizing it. Read on to learn how to rid yourself of bad habits to improve your personal life.

Stop negative self-talk



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