Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

Do More, Worry Less published

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017 | Books, News

I’m pleased to announce the launch of Do More, Worry Less: Small Steps to Reduce Your Anxiety. As of yesterday, it is available in the Worfolk Anxiety web store, as well as via Amazon and iTunes.

Like any book, it takes a long time to put together. Arguably, this was a quick one: it’s taken me over six months, but the restaurant guide took years. However, it has been a long time in the making. The research in the book has taken years to accumulate. And there is a lot of it. 291 footnotes and citations to be exact.

The book takes you on a journey, exploring what anxiety is, why it prevents us from reaching our goals and the proven strategies and tactics to overcome these problems and hit your targets. It then explores every aspect of lifestyle: exercise, diet, sleep, relaxation, personal growth, relationships and community to find the things that improve your mental health and what to do about them.

You can find out more about the book here.

WAM anxiety challenge launches

Friday, March 31st, 2017 | News

Over at Worfolk Anxiety, we’ve just launched our 30-day challenge to help people reduce anxiety. It’s a free month of coaching where people get a different challenge to complete every day and a private support community to share experiences and access encouragement.

Pretty cool. But will it work?

The science says it will. The challenges are based on the lifestyle changes that drive improvements to mental health. I wrote about these in my book Technical Anxiety and look at them in far more detail in my upcoming book Do More, Worry Less.

But, of course, the science can say one thing: whether you can translate into success for people in real life is another. We’re working on a small scale: a few hundred people have signed up for the challenge. That is still enough to make me nervous, though. It needs to deliver.

We’re measuring the success as best we can so I will be able to write about the results next month. Until then, wish me luck!

Will suicide nets stop jumpers at the Golden Gate Bridge?

Sunday, February 26th, 2017 | Health & Wellbeing

When it comes to stopping people throwing themselves off the bridge, the question is, can a one-time intervention really save lives?

When thinking of iconic places to take a suicidal jump from, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco has to come pretty high up that list. In fact, 1,6000 have jumped to their death from the bridge since it opened. It is a fairly reliable way to do it. In that time 26 people have survived, a 98.4% “success” rate.

Now the Golden Gate Bridge are spending nearly £60,000 on installing suicide prevention nets. These wire nets will hang below the bridge, in an attempt to mostly hide them from public view, and be made of steel. It is not going to be a pleasant fall, but should at least save the life of the jumper.

But will it actually work?

According to The Bridge Rail Foundation, a group that has long been campaigning for suicide deterrents to be installed, there is no question that they will help the situation.

They argue that it is simply not the case that once someone has decided to take their own life, nothing can be done to stop them. In fact, most people who fail to take their own life do not try again. 90% of those who are stopped before they can jump go on to live our their remaining lives without suicide. This is a high suicide rate compared with the general population but suggests that intervening once is overwhelmingly successful in keeping people alive.

Experience from around the world suggests they will be effective as well. A similar scheme in Bern, Switzerland was put into place for bridges and city cathedral. Since the nets were installed at the later, nobody has decided to risk the jump. Since 1998 the only creatures to be pulled out of the nets were two dogs. Presumably, they ran over the ledge by accident.

Men twice as likely to be without emotional support

Friday, February 24th, 2017 | Religion & Politics

Men have an almost one in ten chance of having nobody to turn to. Could peer support fill a much-needed gap?

In June, mental health charity Mind published research suggesting that men were twice as likely to have nobody to rely on for emotional support. 9% of men, compared with 5% of women, said that they have nobody to turn to in times of need. The research also suggested men are less likely to feel comfortable talking to the people close to them about their problems, with 52% agreeing.

This is a big problem for a number of reasons.

As Susan Pinker explains in her book _The Village Effect_, having a strong social network and close emotional support is critical to both good mental and physical health. When you eliminate the bias for women to have a stronger circle of close friends to rely on, you find that the disparity between men’s and women’s life expectancies closes dramatically.

Second, with men three times more likely to take their own lives than women, having someone to turn to at the crisis point could mean the difference between an intervention that saves someone’s life, and a successful suicide attempt.

The question is, that can be done about this problem?

To an extent, the problem could lie with our gender itself. If we built stronger relationships and invested more time in building those relationships, we would have a wider circle. However, many men feel like they simply don’t have the connections to do this, that it would not be viewed upon as socially acceptable in their circle, or simply that they feel too uncomfortable to do this.

Another option would be to increase the number of peer support groups available. The advantage of being able to talk to people going through similar problems, and therefore being able to bypass the chance of people not understanding, or judging, may provide a critical avenue for men to get the emotional support they need.

Crazy talk

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016 | News

chris-with-microphone

Crazy Talk would be an amazing name for a podcast about mental health. Sadly, I have not given my new podcast such a name. But I have launched one, and it is all about anxiety.

Earlier this month, I got down to some serious writing for the Worfolk Anxiety blog. Feedback has been better than I expected: the blog experiences an above-average bounce rate. This means that when people click on the link to the blog post, they actually read it. Sounds strange that that would be a thing, but it is actually super-common on the internet for people to click a link and never read the article they clicked on.

By the way, if you want to get updates from the blog, we have a MailChimp list you can subscribe to. It’s free, and there are goodies for signing up.

Alongside this, I am launching the Worfolk Anxiety Podcast. This will also feature advice and inspiration for controlling your anxiety and enjoying life more. The first three episodes are already available, and you can keep up-to-date with future episodes using your favourite podcasting app.

Sane New World

Thursday, November 24th, 2016 | Books

Sane New World: Taming the Mind is a book by Ruby Wax. Wax is a well-known comedian but what you might not know is that she is also a trained therapist with a masters degree in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.

This book is all about how to use mindfulness to solve mental health difficulties, narrated through her own struggles with depression. Her own anecdotes really add some sparkle to the book and there is a lot for anyone with depression to identify with in here and think “yes, me too!”. It’s also funny, as you would expect from a big-name comedian.

She also knows her stuff. Her round-up of what parts of the brain do what, and her round-up of the evidence for mindfulness-based therapies have both proved excellent starting points for research.

sane-new-world

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Friday, September 2nd, 2016 | Books

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a book by Robert M. Pirsig. It tells the story of a motorbike trip across America that he and his son Chris undertook. It reads like a novel, and in fact I thought I was reading a fictional story for most of it. However, it is actually an autobiographical retelling.

Pirsig uses the rides to go into deep philosophical discussions he labells as “chautauqua”. These explore the meaning of the term quality and slowly retell his life story: he explored the concept as an academic, to such a degree that eventually led him to a breakdown.

I found the novel dragged quite a bit. I am simply not that interested in epistemology in its relation to quality. It is interesting to hear his life story, but I think you have to have a strong interest in philosophy to enjoy the novel to its full extent.

Zen-and-the-art-of-motorcycle-maintenance

Mindfulness

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016 | Books

Mindfulness, “the life-changing bestseller”, is a book by Mark Williams and Danny Penman that offers an eight week course on mindfulness. If you have not come across mindfulness before, it is an attempt to take the clinically-useful bits of meditation and put them into a framework that improves people’s mental health.

I’ve now done it all, and it hasn’t changed my life.

The book comes with a CD that includes guided meditations. It’s 2016, so I don’t have a CD player, or an optical drive on my computer. In the past four years of not having one, this has been the first time it’s really been a problem as I couldn’t find all of the audio tracks online. In the end I had to resort to using my PS3.

It gets quite time consuming as you go on. In week five for example, you are doing three meditations per day: 8 minutes, 8 minutes and 10 minutes. This is more than half an hour once you had set up and cool down times. That is quite a lot. The default reaction of some is to say “just half an hour a day to improve your mental health? Surely that is worth it?” They’re probably right, but half an hour is still a long time. I could use the same time to go for a run every day, and look after my physical health, something which I don’t find time to do.

Nevertheless, I did want to give this an honest go, so I did make the time. Did it provide some benefit? I’m not sure. I don’t feel any different. However, given that I am not measuring my anxiety on a daily basis, and that you would expect to see fluctuations anyway, I find it very difficult to objectively say whether I have seen an improvement. However, it does not feel like I have. Perhaps I need some high-anxiety situations to come along to truly find out.

mindfulness-book

Anxiety Leeds promo material

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016 | Foundation

anxiety-leeds-promo-material

Over at Anxiety Leeds we have some brand new promo material for the group. Not only do we have some updated flyers but we also have some brand new glossy A3 posters as well. If anyone wants some for their work, school, community centre, etc, get in touch and I can have some sent!

Reasons to Stay Alive

Sunday, February 7th, 2016 | Books

Reasons to Stay Alive is a book by Matt Haig about depression. He talks about his own breakdown in his twenties and how he survived it.

It’s a short read. Not only is it a short book but Haig keeps the chapters very short too. He mixes up the content. Sometimes he talks about his personal story, sometimes offers a list up and sometimes presents it as a discussion across time with his younger self.

I did not learn anything, but I did identity with a lot of the content. As such, I think for someone coming into contact with depression and anxiety for the first time, it would be a valuable read.

reasons-to-stay-alive