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Author: Marcus Jones

“Dealing with Dyslexia” by Marcus Jones

When The Secretary of State declared his struggles with Dyslexia recently , there is no doubt he created an impact due to his honesty, which was welcomed by many parents, aspiring children and young adults. It’s to easy to turn around today and say a child is “thick” or “slow”, some may say you cannot use that type of language, yet that was the terminology I heard growing up in th 70’s & 80’s.

The article was covered by national news papers, online news and even made the TV.

An insert from the Guardian below;

The Health Secretary has revealed that he is dyslexic, and says he might never have achieved career success without the use of a spellchecker.

Matt Hancock said he had never spoken about it before, because he did not like talking about weaknesses, in an interview with Alistair Campbell in GQ magazine.

The minster said technology could have a detrimental impact on the mental health of young people – but could also help them to succeed.

He has previously called on head teachers to ban phones in the classroom, a view he today restated.

But he continued: “Technology can be an enormous enabler. I’ll give you one example. I have never really talked about this before, but I am dyslexic and I didn’t find that out at school. I found out at university, when a tutor said, ‘You are good orally, but you cannot get it down on paper.’

“I think if Microsoft had invented spellcheck five years later it would have had a massive negative impact on my career. By the time I got to the workplace, everything was done on word processors and that solved my very serious spelling problem,” Mr Hancock said.

So why would I write about Dyslexia?

I am known for being creative, an ideas person, into the detail, having OCD in business, competitive, what many don’t know I have lived with Dyslexia all my life, I didn’t realise it as a kid and like Matt Hancock, within the our education it was never discussed, to be fair in the 70’s and 80’s  I didn’t even think they knew what it was.

Being a keen athlete, I was very engaged into my sports as a kid, but also very creative. I built things, I played rugby, I played music, physically worked hard and was very good a mathematician.

When I look back I am not really sure when the penny dropping moments took place, realising that Dyslexia was a part of my life, I think the realisation started when writing more articles and researching subjects. My physical writing skills have always been poor, I just put it down to lazy handwriting, because that’s exactly what you were told in my generation. Then in 2000 when computers started to become the norm in the workplace, a new dimension of email usage created itself new challenges, like Matt Hancock stated, “thank god for spellcheck.”

“Auto-correct” became a must along with grammar check, however the realisation of the amount of words that were actually being corrected came through loud and clear. At first you have the thoughts you are rushing, you also start to read things several times and each time you spot a different mistake. I have read an article four times in the past and each time spot something new.

Dyslexia comes in many forms, for me it comes through tiredness.

I decided around eight years ago to tell my team, so they understood dyslexia and I openly talked about the challenges attributed to the effects of dyslexia. Infact it is known that when I write in outside hours of the business, I will always ask a trusted member of my team to check my work.

Within my public speaking life,  I will also talk about the effects of Dyslexia and a fact today there are still negatives towards individuals who deal with dyslexia.

Every cloud has a silver lining!

A few positive’s to the condition are; we can see things that others cannot see, we can solve problems quicker than most and a known fact is that we are less open to suggestive programming such a NLP. Something I learned very recently. My mind is “black and white”, I see the world in very simple terms, non complicated and in my own words “it allows me to cut through the crap”. We can visualise things in a creative way, Simon Sinek would frame it by saying “begin with the end in mind”, meaning picture it and you will achieve it.

So what does this mean?

My concern today is focused towards the next generation and how they are treated, I think it is fair to say, in my option, that those brought up in the 70’s and 80’s have a different resilience to the latter generations, simply because, in my view to social media usage. Although we use it, we never grew up with it being in your hand 24/7,  I believe there is a significant difference due to this behaviour difference.

Today’s generation of young adults are being influenced by social media in many different ways, research shows behaviours are changing in society due to multiple devices being used and the fact that personal interaction has lessened, you only have to watch people in Starbucks to see the impact.

Ironically we are using it now to communicate this information. Well-being is key to the future of our society.

Summary – never assume anything about anyone in life, everyone has a story , the question I ask you, are you willing to listen?

Marcus

 

 

“Anyone Can Learn The Skills To Help Save a Life From Suicide” by Anne Thorn

Anyone can learn the skills to help save a life from suicide.

Wednesday 10th October 2018 is World Mental Health day so I thought it would be a good day to tell you about my son,Toby.

Toby was a happy-go-lucky 23-year-old young man who walked into a field one night in July 2011 and took his own life. No one, not me or his close friends, had any clue that he was depressed, mentally ill or had any thoughts of self-harm. It came as a complete bolt-out-of-the -blue to us all.

Suicide is a controversial word and people find it very hard to say out loud or talk about. Professor Green the rapper, aka Stephen Manderson, lost his Dad to suicide and made a documentary about it. He said: “If you want to empty a room – talk about suicide.”

I was a single mum and as Toby grew into a young man I worried about many things; drugs, drinking and driving, getting mugged for his iPhone, but I never, ever, worried about him walking into a field one summer night and killing himself.

Because I never knew – I never knew that as a young man he was more likely to die from suicide than anything else. Why didn’t I know? Why didn’t anyone warn me? I now know that 84 men every week take their own lives in the UK. YES – 84 EVERY WEEK. A shocking statistic.

My first overwhelming emotion was anger – anger at the world, the government, the media, the medical profession; anger at whoever it was that should have told me. Then followed guilt that I had not been able to protect my son, that he hadn’t come to me for help and that I had not been able to save him.

I made it my mission to find out all I could about young male suicide, I connected with charities and organisations and learned that the main theory behind why so many men die from suicide is that they don’t talk about their worries – they keep it all inside and don’t reach out for help.

Telling people to ‘talk to someone’ when they are struggling is not really that helpful, but it is a step in the right direction. Toby probably would never have phoned a help-line or gone to the GP, I don’t think he even had registered with one, but he may have talked to his friends if they had known how to help him. And people can learn how to help, in fact anyone can learn the skills to help save a life from suicide.

I was trustee for PAPYRUS for a year, they are a UK charity dedicated to reducing young suicide and promote practical ways to help and educate people. As part of my role I attended a 2-day course called ASIST, which stands for Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, it is like a First Aid course to help anyone who may be suicidal.

I firmly believe that one of the key ways we can all contribute to reducing suicide rates in the UK is to all become ‘suicide aware’ and learn how to talk about suicide to our families, colleagues, friends and children. If we start talking about it to each other and stop being afraid of the subject I believe a lot more people, especially young men, would speak to their friends about worries and thoughts of self-harm.

I recently started a new part-time job and one of the first courses I was sent on was ‘First Aid at Work’. I was taught how to put someone in the recovery position, do CPR and stop serious bleeding among other things. ASIST is a bit like that but instead of being taught how to do CPR you will learn how to talk to someone who may be suicidal.

It is a myth that you can implant the idea of suicide into someone’s mind by talking about it, but it has been proven that intervention works. ASIST is about becoming aware, looking out for signs, assessing the risk and then helping someone to stay safe until they can get help.

So here are the key things that I have learned along the way and from my training, about how to talk about suicide and how to create connections where it is safe to talk about mental health.

It is about connecting, understanding and assisting.

1. Check in with friends more often and preferably not on social media or by text.
How many of us have friends that we keep meaning to contact but just get distracted and too busy? Check in regularly with friends and if possible talk on the phone or meet for coffee, you can’t really connect with someone fully and assess how they are feeling just by text or social media. Sometimes just feeling cared for and supported can help distract someone from suicidal thoughts.
2. Look out for any signs that things are not OK.
Behaviour changes
Withdrawing from life or hobbies, missing work, lectures etc
Giving away possessions
Becoming excessively gloomy or alternatively they may seem excessively happy and excited
Has the person recently experienced a life changing event such as new job, losing a job, exam results, relationship break up, financial pressures, starting University etc.
3. Ask open questions.
Don’t just ask ‘how are you?’ ask ‘How’s the job going – are you enjoying it?’ or ‘What’s been happening recently?’ – this gives the person the invitation to open up to you – if you ask them how they are they will probably just say ‘fine’.
4. Ask them ‘Are you having thoughts of suicide?’
If you are concerned just ask directly and gently, don’t be scared to broach the subject if you are at all concerned.
5. Assess the risk.
If someone tells you they have had, or are having,suicidal thoughts – ask them if they have a specific plan or is it just a thought. You need to asses how urgently they need intervention help.

If someone indicates they have plan and are prepared, ask them if you can help them disable that plan, just for now. Ask them if they will agree to say safe until you can both find a way to help them access some resources. For example, if they have amassed pills to take you could ask them to give the pills to you.

Commit to help them find support and together you can access the internet, their GP, a help-line or a mental health charity to guide you on ways the person can find help and support. PAPYRUS run a help-line called HopelineUK on 0800 068 41 41 which anyone can call if they are worried about a young person.

Reassure them that it is OK and perfectly normal to feel as if you can’t cope or you can’t go on and that it is possible for them to feel better and tell them you are committed to helping them and being part of their support system.

There is a lot of useful information on the PAPYRUS websiteon what signs to look out for and how you can find help. If you are worried about someone do some research so you are prepared when you meet.

ASIST training is available to anyone over 16 and is available all over the UK and in some places you can do it free of charge. Look at Living Works website to find out more.

I can’t bring my son back, but I hope my story will promptothers to help each other and together we can create suicide safer communities and reduce the shocking statistics, so please share this post on World Mental Health day.

Read my blog at www.losingachildtosuicide.org.uk

Anne Thorne

Robyn’s Corner Of The World “I Can, I Will”

Hi, my name is Robyn. I am a professional Life Coach but for the purposes of these blogs- I am your average Joe.

One of my biggest passions is Mental Health, how we can learn more about it and all its complexities, but also how we can learn to manage and maintain it!

Mental health is, for me, by far the most important health that we can be mindful of. Controversial, but stick with me- if our Mental health is in good order, we are more likely to treat our bodies right. To eat and drink better, to move more, to interact with more people, to laugh and learn more and potentially make and create more; building a happier you!

Mental health is talked about such a lot now, which is phenomenal. Together, we are raising awareness of difficulties and challenges faced by some on a daily basis. We’re creating a dialogue about sensitive, taboo and often uncomfortable issues that many of us until now have avoided.

We are creating a wider understanding of general and more complex mental health topics which is, in turn, beginning to break down stigmas and thus (I hope) increase the self and social confidence of those who once felt excluded and unable to join in.

Inclusivity is a much bigger medicine than many of us give it credit for – even for those who don’t feel that they are challenged with a mental health issue. Always ask, invite and include people around you (even if they always say no)- it means more than you will ever know!

I would generally consider myself a pretty positive person; I don’t think that I face any serious mental health issues as such. I do, however, sometimes feel anxious, inadequate (in many ways), lonely, isolated and down- and I feel it is fair to say that even the most upbeat people feel these things too, sometimes.

So I’d like to share a few remedies that myself and some friends have culminated for those days that seem a little darker than the rest – (please feel free to write them down and stick them on somewhere visible to you as a constant reminder that the little things are sometimes the most comforting and healing):

Exercise– If you’re like me and the thought of going to a gym is actually more stressful than the initial anxiety you were feeling then just go for a walk around your local park or your ‘block’ as our Trans-Atlantic cousins would say. Fresh air and movement has a lot to be spoken for.
Playlist– This might actually be my biggest remedy! Create a playlist* of feel-good songs that are personal to you, and then play it! Either on your walk (discussed above), or behind closed doors. But the rule that I find with this one is that I have to let my thoughts drift and concentrate on the words or the beat- something outside of yourself!

* I will be posting my playlist in my next blog – for some inspiration!

Meditation– This is intimidating for some, myself included, but I see it as simply sitting comfortably either on the floor or a chair (eyes can be open or closed) and counting your in-breath as a 1 and your out-breath as 2. Each time you find yourself thinking of other things just bring yourself back to counting (in your head or aloud) 1 and 2 with your breathing. Try this for 1 minute to begin with and then build up to 5 and so on.
Be kind to others– Ask others about themselves or ask if you can help someone or something (charity events, local soup kitchen ect). These kinds of things help me to take myself out of my own head for a while and make me feel good for having done something that has no direct effect on me.
Do something creative: Get a colouring book, draw a picture, play an instrument, sing, write, rap, read poetry, make a sculpture with sticks in your garden- it doesn’t matter! But being creative is really soothing for the mind.
Cleanliness/Grooming– Have a bath or a shower, wash your hair and then put on some nice clothes and maybe even do your make-up or gel your hair (whatever the case may be). Making yourself look good, in your own eyes, can make you feel good and lift your mood and confidence no end!!
Be with nature– This is something that, with the rise of technology, that has seemingly gone out the window (pun not intended…). But on a primal and scientific level, humans actually get a lot from being outside. This is something I have been trying to do more of late, and I have to say, it is really calming and allows you to get in touch with something much bigger than yourself!

It is worth mentioning that these suggestions are not ‘cures’ or quick fixes and from my experience they will only help to reduce stresses and anxieties if we let them. If we are still clinging on to the negative thoughts and feelings, any suggestion will seldom help!

Also, if you are dealing with extreme negative thoughts and feelings and are having harmful thoughts- I would advise that you seek professional support and help. Then, once those thoughts are more manageable and less all-encompassing, suggestions like these may seem more appealing and accessible for you.

Thank you for reading, and please know that you are an amazing person and are the best thing that has happened in the lives of many around you.

Life Is Now, Keep Smiling!

Robyn x

Useful links and contacts regarding Mental Health:

 

How Sport Can Help Wellbeing.

We often talk about mental health and well-being, The Links Foundation Team are working a platform of sports that target “Mental Strength”.

So what does this mean?

Firstly we all have mental strength, however it depends on several indicators on the day, week or month. Imagine the speedometer of a car showing 0 to 100 mph and on average you feel good, good intake of foods that give you energy, plenty of sleep and water daily and in general terms work/life balance feels good. You may say you feel at 90 mph. However imagine a week, lack of sleep, bit of stress and you have missed a few meals, plus a few challenges, you may say you only 45 mph in your view point.

In the video we talk too some real great names of boxing , how a sport can help wellbeing through the transfer of disciplines, knowledge and also being supported with a positive environment, plus making new friends. Switch Up Nottingham via Nottingham Boxing also supports young people who we know today are at risk from many social factors.

Please enjoy the video and share.

 

 

September 10th 2018 – World Suicide Prevention Day – Let’s Talk!

Today there are volunteer organisations who enhance many lives, including those members of service clubs, the volunteer sector and like minded groups. We change lives with fantastic community projects, we make a difference in the most difficult areas of the world.

Simply put we bring people together.

Within our service community of members and volunteers around the world suicide has already impacted on loved ones, our members and their families.

Over the last five years I personally know five members of the volunteer sector who have lost their lives to this uncompromising subject. It’s become my personal challenge to support those who supports others. I asked myself the simple question.

“Who supports the very individuals who help others in society?”, the answer is there is very little, apart from the support we offer each other within the DNA of our organisations through the positivity and fellowship, sadly sometimes even that is not enough.

“Volunteers Supporting Volunteers” that’s the target of The Links Foundation Team, targeting wellbeing to prevent the loss of life, through education, encouragement and engagement via the work we are engaged in.

Today aim to talk to someone, within your group that maybe you have not heard from for a while, you may think that they are not responding to emails out of choice, it may be more than you think?

Here are some areas of great advice by Mind in the UK.

Let’s talk about the reality of suicide!

Over 800,000 people die by suicide annually, representing 1 person every 40 seconds!

• Suicide is the 15th leading cause of death globally, account for 1.4% of all deaths.

• The global suicide rate is 11.4 per 100 000 population.

• 15.0/100 000 for males.

• 8.0/100 000 for females.

• Suicide is the leading cause of death in people aged 15-24 in many European countries.

• Globally suicide rates among this age group are higher in males than females.

• Self-harm largely occurs among older adolescents, and globally is the 2nd leading cause of death for older adolescent girls.

• In 2012, 76% of global suicide occurred in low- and middle-income countries 39% of which occurred in the South-East Asia Region.

• In 25 countries (within WHO member states) suicide is currently still criminalised.

• In an additional 20 countries suicide attempters may be punished with jail sentences, according to Sharia law.

• Suicide is the result of a convergence of risk factors including but not limited towards genetic, psychological, social and cultural risk factors, sometimes combined with experiences of rauma and loss.

• Depression is the most common psychiatric disorder in people who die by suicide.

• 50% of individuals in high income countries who die by suicide have major depressive disorder at their time of death.

• For every 1 suicide 25 people make a suicide attempt.

• 135 people are affected by each suicide death.

• This equates to 108 million people bereaved by suicide worldwide every year.

• Relatives and close friends of people who die by suicide are a high-risk group for suicide, due to the psychological trauma of a suicide loss and potential shared familial and environmental risk, auicide contagion through the process of social modelling, and the burden of stigma associated with this loss.

• Effective suicide prevention strategies need to incorporate public health policy strategies and healthcare strategies, incorporating measure with the strongest evidence of efficacy such as: restriction of access to lethal means; treatment of depression; ensuring chain of care; and school-based universal prevention.

“We have all lost a friend, colleague or know someone who has lost a their fight against depression and related issues around Mental Health to Suicide”.

“Life is Now Keep Smiling” “Links”; www.thelinksfoundation.com, let’s help others by raising the awareness of mental health today and share how positive wellbeing can be of support, just like your conversation today with a friend, so make that call!

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, call someone you haven’t heard from for a while and check they are okay and remember in our organisation we can support each other.

Please share this post to make it okay to talk.

Marcus Jones

Founder – The Links Foundation

 

Board Games Are Not Just For Kids!

Board Games Are Not Just For Kids!

Recently I spoke to a mother who lost her son to suicide a few years ago, at the very young age of 19. During our conversation we talked about the impact of positive wellbeing influences outside physical sport, activities that you may not consider to be as impactful, yet research shows this not to be the case, actually the opposite. I will call the lady Judy for the context of the blog and to protect the individual. 

Judy went on to explain the journey of her son and that in the later months he had started to improve his confidence through attending a cafe bar that played traditional board games, in fact he started to talk about new friendships made from this experience. Sadly he lost his fight against depression, However Judy is convinced that his connection with a new world through playing games helped him, even if it was for a short time. So much so, Judy went on to explore the impact of board games against an individuals wellbeing. The report and findings were and are impactful and thought provoking.

One analogy described to me around the effect of playing board games with new friends, “it’s like sitting around the table with your family at teatime”, that statement alone gives a great insight into the positive environment around such experiences.

I decided to visit a new games cafe bar in Nottingham called Ludorito and spoke with the founder and MD Nicholas Higgins, what an inspiring and insightful conversation. Whilst the cafe is a business there is no doubt it’s also a passion for the owner. We also talked about wellbeing, the groups that attended the cafe. What was very noticeable whilst I visited the cafe was the laughter in the room along with most in attendance not using their phones, everyone was engaged in conversation and pure communication with each other, it was a rare sight to see in public, especially when we are all used to seeing individuals scanning their phones looking through social media. Have you been to a restaurant recently when a couple are sitting at a table, not taking too each other because they are engrossed in their phones? Well this environment is the opposite, everyone engages with each other.

Board games can have a very positive impact on your well-being, recent studies say. Because they behave differently than online game, they can help you in many different ways. What makes them special is that you don’t have to sit in front of a screen to get all the fun. It looks like they are adopted more and more by schools and the results are fascinating because students are very excited about playing them. And we’re talking about a generation that is practically obsessed with online gaming, smartphones and technology. So here are the surprising benefits of playing board games!

1. Board games are social.

This is probably the most significant aspect of playing board games. Unlike being immersed in a video game by yourself, board games require interaction with your peers. The reason they’re so cool is because they can help you meet new people but also strengthen your bond with older friends. Spending more time with people you care about and have this fun activity in common is obviously awesome for your health.

2. They can help you take a break from technology.

This is incredible, if you think about today’s society when we tend to spend most of our time in front of our computers. In that sense, board games can seem like a breath of fresh air. They can also give you a chance to relax your eyes.

3. They can improve your memory and help you with creativity.

Because you are forced to pay attention to what’s going on during the game and keep track of everything, board games can make wonders for your memory. There are many other skills that you can improve with playing board games. And creativity is just another one of them, but also problem-solving and story-telling.

4. They can help with anxiety and depression.

Board games are known for helping people, especially teenagers break down barriers and start interacting more with their peers. It’s especially important for people dealing with social anxiety and any other mental issues.

Board games are experiencing somewhat of a golden age at the moment. I’m not just talking about classics like Monopoly,  Scrabble and Cluedo. If you go into your local Waterstones for example, you’ll find the type of board games that used to be consigned to the dusty shelves of specialist hobby stores – Settlers of Catan, Carcassone, and Pandemic are all now hugely popular. The mix of people playing board games is widening, and there’s a whole world of youtube channels, web pages and podcasts devoted to the hundreds of new board games released each year.

Getting together with groups of friends, such as when playing a board game, is supportive of your mental health. BoardGameGeek.com has a depression, anxiety and gaming support group, where people share their stories and support each other, amongst discussing the board games they love. In this vein I thought I’d look into the benefits of board games from a mental health perspective.

5.Board Games keep your brain younger for longer

Playing games, especially as you get older is beneficial as an active brain is at lower risk of cognitive decline. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that playing board games was associated with a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The old adage ‘use it or lose it’ seems to have some truth after all.

6. Board games help with children’s cognitive and social development

Useful social skills can be taught through board games, skills that  can lead children to  happier and less isolated lives. Games teach social skills such as following rules, taking turns and sharing with others. Board games support cognitive skills, from simple number and pattern recognition to the most complex calculations and estimations. In some games you’ll use a mixture of logic, mathematical skills and abstract thinking, whilst also planning out your next moves, and coming up with ways to counter your friends’ actions. With so many different types of board games, there are thousands of ways to give your brain a workout.

7. Board games help reduce isolation

Most board games are designed to be played with a group of people. Having a regular group of people to play board games with helps stave off loneliness, and builds positive relationships with others, all things that are associated with good mental health.

Isolation has been shown as a contributing factor in worsening mental health, and those with mental health issues tend to report increased loneliness. However, it can be difficult for those suffering with issues such as depression and anxiety to step out and make new friends. Board games solve a lot of these problems as they offer a structured way to meet others. Instead of needing to strike up a conversation from scratch, having a game as the focus of the activity allows friendships to build slowly in a less formal or pressured way. Board Game Cafés are springing up around the country and all you need to do is turn up, talk to the staff and you’ll soon find someone to have a game with. Even for those that struggle to leave the house there is an online board game simulator on ‘Steam’ where you can play hundreds of board games with others online.

8.Board games help family cohesion

There are now hundreds of board games out there aimed at families, or that are sufficiently well designed to be enjoyed by adults but simple enough for your 10 year old to get to grips with (and then beat you mercilessly).

A board game is an opportunity for the family to take part in something together. Board games offer the opportunity for more face-to-face interaction with others, which in itself is supportive of mental health. All too often in family situations, while everyone is physically present, the focus is either on the TV or individual mobile phones, tablets or laptops. While playing a board game, whether competing or collaborating you’re engaging with each other actively in person. Families who spend time together on enjoyable activities have a better emotional bond, and better communication between family members.

9.Board games help to reduce stress

A study from Realnetworks Inc showed that games help us to reduce stress, support mental balance and help with relaxation. I imagine this is because board games offer escapism, a chance to take leave your daily worries behind for a while and do something completely different. You can build civilisations, construct railways, control vast armies, hunt zombies or even try to take over the world. There’s no need to worry about the minutiae of life for a few hours, or perhaps the structure of a clear set of rules is a safe bulwark against the chaotic world outside.

That’s why The Links Foundation will build a programme that not only includes a sport programme but also alternative programmes that help an individuals wellbeing in different ways, wat to be part of The Links Foundation Wellbeing Project then email TheLinksFoundation@gmail.com for further information.

Board games are a great way to connect with others, to take you away from the normal troubles of life for a few hours, and to give your brain a workout. Why not see if there’s one out there that will suit you?

Marcus Jones

Founder of The Links Foundation 

www.marcusjones.co.uk

Are You Mad?

I am known within my group of friends on occasion in conversation to mutter the words “I have an idea”, just like Michael Caine in the iconic film “The Italian Job”.

At that point the reaction is normally “oh god”, run for cover or something like that, then the realisation I do actually have a real idea that draws a statement of  “Are You Mad?”.

I remember the first time running a marathon,  I asked a very good friend to support me as my running partner in the 2014 London Marathon. Firstly Keith laughed and then said your serious aren’t you?, my response was “yep” with a rye smile. Then my planning kicked in with the motivation to achieve it.

There were many doubters, many who said; “you won’t do it”, those who wished good luck but their body language gave a very different feeling, in a way they were actually saying the opposite. There were many good friends who were really concerned for my well-being. I know they must have said to each other in private conversation he must be mad ?, he is never going to finish? The fact the world doubted me made me even more determined.

I am not the greatest runner and at the time I was 18 stone at the beginning of my training, I needed a plan, I needed to do my research and talk to those who experienced the 26.2 miles of emotion, pain, elation, feeling tired, feeling motivated and any other emotion you could think of, even hunger.

A friend who died a few years ago once said  “run to one lamppost at a time”, Simon Bozeat, that one is credited to you my friend in your memory. Then by chance I tripped over an article by Paula Radcliffe GB&I Athlete and marathon runner. In the article Radcliffe talked about her mental well-being within the marathon and why during the hard slog she would remember and consider all her thoughts. Her memories of childhood came up, she went through different emotions, when her pain started the training truly kicked in. Radcliffe had a process of counting to 100 during tough times in the race and allowing for her tunnel vision to kick in, allowing to break the negative thoughts.

I trained, lost two stone, got focused, raised money. I also went through my mindfulness walk, I  pictured in my mind each stage of race, how I would feel and how I would run the race, even down to the detail of when I would eat, drink, walk etc ……..there were also the supporters, family, friends, strangers and the thousands of supporters on the day.

Race day, we ran, we paced ourselves (slow) to ensure we finished, no matter what happened the plan was to finish. Excitement, nervous energy, pride, fear – all those emotions at once! Walking, running with strangers, you found yourself encouraging others even though you are going through your own pain.

Then the thousands of strangers shouting your name, “come on Jonesy”, simply one of the most inspiring environments I have ever experienced.

I remember struggling around mile 14, my feet were bleeding, I knew that if I stopped I would never start again, then the Tower Bridge affect. For anyone who who has previously run the marathon you will understand exactly what I mean.

Somehow you get more energy, your knees lift up, your chest lifts and you start running like Mo Farah, but not as fast.

Thousands shouting your name, encouraging you. One of the most inspiring feelings I have ever experienced in my life. That feeling gave me a few more miles I’m my legs. The mile 18-22 really hurt but with a little help from my friends I finished.

I believe the journey and process above is transferable is many aspects in life, especially around well-being.

At the beginning of the blog, I started with “Am I Mad”, well I must be because in 2016 I did it all again. Within this piece I talk about well-being, process, supporters, the environment around us. Top sporting athletes go through mental health issues and they refer to process to get through pain barriers, that they have a support network, no matter the thoughts of the individual no one questioned If they were mad, yet in every day life we question those around us because we dare to think outside the box and challenge ourselves

From my experiences in life I have come to realise that there are thousands of individuals who suffer with mental health issues and struggle with their well-being. The more I have investigated the issues, the more I have become informed and astounded by the experiences people get from others when they suffer with mental health issues, from these experiences I have had “an 💡 idea”, it’s called The Links Foundation, a group of people who want to support others. ‘Volunteers supporting volunteers”, helping those who help others. An idea by bringing people together can and will make a difference to others through new experiences and process.

It may not be 26.2 miles however one thing I know, there will be those who doubt me, those who will smile and be polite, but then there will be those who understand the reason behind the “why” I am doing this. It’s very simple, because I can, I have the passion and I am a little mad in life. I am driven mad by trying to help others, pushing the boundaries and most of all raising the awareness of mental health issues.

My aim will be to connect with other great organisations, individuals who have already started their own journey within this most difficult subject, a subject that needs recognition and allowed the air time for others to benefit from its awareness.

Running a marathon tests your resolve and challenges your well-being during the 26.2 miles in a way I have never experienced in my life. I know the process I used in my training worked, I relate to it in many conversations with individuals.

The process of “structure, process and people” , the people especially who supported the journey and allowed for my achievement of something extraordinary.

Mad means “meaningful, adventurous & determined”

Marcus Jones

http://www.marcusjones.co.uk

Life is Now Keep Smiling

 

The Inspirational Marcellus Baz & The Links Foundation Partnership

Accessible to all ages, backgrounds and levels, Marcellus known to most as “Baz” has created an all inclusive environment for everyone to discover and learn all that the sport has to offer.

From ex-offenders to those with simply an interest in boxing Baz can offer professional first class training and preparation at one end , through to an introduction to Boxing that has already been proven to change an individuals pathway in life.

Through cemented partnerships with local authorities and other organisations Baz does not shirk the challenge of those who need more than just a boxing lesson. However, all assistance is underpinned with reporting and where necessary safeguarding measures to ensure that any help given is aligned to their own future development.

Being awarded The BBC’s unsung hero award in 2016 together with a British Empire Medal for services to youth boxing and the community in Nottingham was an affirmation of all the hard work, commitment and passion that Baz brings to the table. But meet him on the street and there is no-one more grounded, honest and humbled.

Having faced the toughest of adversity Baz wants to talk about you. What do you need ? How can he help? The story of why Baz is more than qualified to ask these questions is best left for him to explain himself.

“Let’s not dwell on problems, let’s figure out your solution, we can deal with the rest as we grow”

Find out by watching the video why Links2SwitchUp will change the lives of many.

 

How it Feels To Be Lonely In Your 20s

It’s not just elderly people who can feel lonely or isolated. I’m 26 and sometimes I feel so empty and alone I can hardly bear to inhabit my own skin. My diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) definitely affects my ability to maintain stable relationships, and having generalised anxiety means that I can panic in new situations or in social contexts with people I don’t know. I’ve also got a history of abuse and trauma, and this makes it difficult for me to ‘read’ other people and correctly interpret gestures, body language, facial expressions and speech. I’m trapped in a vicious cycle of being lonely partly because I have mental health problems, and loneliness making my mental health problems more pronounced. The worst thing about loneliness is that it’s so hard to tell other people that you’re struggling. Loneliness carries its own social stigma, which means that people are more likely to keep their feelings hidden than share them with others. I worry that people will see it as a symptom of me having an unpleasant personality or not being a nice person to spend time with, and then I worry that those things are true. Feeling unpopular, unwanted, ashamed and alone all combines to make a poisonous soup of mental distress. Loneliness also taps into a wider sense of inadequacy around what I’m ‘supposed’ to be doing in this period of my life. I always imagined my 20s to be fun. I thought I’d have all the independence of adulthood without being particularly weighed down by the accompanying responsibilities I might have to put up with in my 30s and beyond.

My 20s would be about holidays, barbecues, doing the pub quiz with a big group of friends, weddings, having annual meet-ups with school and university pals, and keeping up with ever-buzzing WhatsApp groups for the sharing of gossip and inconsequential daily trivia. It’s really not like this at all. In Britain, 18-34 year olds are more likely to often feel lonely or depressed than people over the age of 55. According to an ONS report, the UK is now the loneliest country in Europe. Theresa May has appointed a new ‘minister for loneliness’ to honour the legacy of murdered MP Jo Cox and to tackle an issue that’s believed to affect around 9 million people in the UK. We hear a great deal about loneliness in older people living alone, but away from group chats and Instagram stories, millennials are lonely too. And loneliness affects everything.

A study from Kings College London this year shows that lonely millennials are more likely to have mental health problems, be unemployed and feel negatively about their ability to succeed in comparison to their peers who don’t feel lonely. This was found to be true regardless of gender or wealth. Meaningful connections with others are a huge factor in whether or not someone is happy. Humans are social creatures and we require reassurance, stimulation, validation and comfort from others. Loneliness can be corrosive, leading to bitterness, self-doubt and an increased fear of ‘putting yourself out there’ in social situations. Some people take great comfort from the avenues for connection available online, but social media makes me feel much lonelier.

It’s like constantly being reminded that a huge party is happening elsewhere that I’m not invited to. I seem to spend a great deal of time scrolling through my Instagram and Facebook feeds, seeing people I know spending their weekends with huge groups of friends. It makes me feel like there’s something really wrong with me because I don’t have that. Logically I know that these people usually still live in the same area as their school or university friends, or they simply have the kind of easygoing, amenable personality that lets them slot easily into a group of new friends like a round peg into a round hole. I feel more like the square peg/round hole kind of person. It must feel like having a soft, cosy blanket wrapped around you to know that there’s a group of people who regularly want to spend time with you. I’m paralysed by a fear of rejection from people I do know, and I freeze when confronted with people I don’t know at all at networking events or things that people have invited me along to. I’m suspicious that these invitations come from a place of pity. My firm belief is that once people get to know me, they won’t like me at all. I’ve moved from my hometown to five different cities during my adult life due to study and work, and this sense of transience and rootlessness might be a contributing factor for why I feel lonely. It’s easier at school or university, when you have a ready-made group of people in the same area who are living vaguely similar lives. The workplace is a different setting altogether. If by some stroke of luck you do actually want to be friends with your co-workers, they might want to leave everything work-related at the door each day. The graduate job market and concentration of creative roles in certain areas of the country could also have a role to play here. I took the first graduate job that was offered to me after my Masters because I was convinced I wouldn’t be offered anything better, and I moved to a town where I knew absolutely no one. The job was a bad fit with a punishing commute that made my weight drop dangerously. I ended up working from home but I was forced to stay in the same town because I was locked into a tenancy agreement, completely isolated and severely depressed. Lucy* has had similar experiences of moving for work and finding it a lonely business. She tells Metro.co.uk ‘I moved for a dream job in fashion and although I loved my work, I was so lonely. ‘I was living in a house share with people who were fine, but not my friends. I didn’t really make friends at work either. Everyone had already formed their own bonds and groups and I felt like there wasn’t any room for me. ‘Among people I knew from uni, it was actually pretty common for people to move to completely new places for a job. I think everyone worried that if you didn’t take what you were offered, you wouldn’t get anything else. ‘I got so depressed because I was lonely that I fell back into a really toxic long-distance relationship with a guy who I knew was basically abusive, and I started binge eating. ‘I ended up moving back to where my family is from and getting a job there.’ There are lots of reasons that people in their 20s feel lonely. We’re often told that it’s the elderly who are the lonely ones, but youth is no guarantee of happiness, fulfilment or the ability to maintain friendships. Austin told Metro.co.uk that he became isolated due to a relationship. ‘Over the course of a relationship, I sacrificed my happiness for another person,’ he explains. ‘Now I’m left pretty estranged from my old friends and struggling to make new ones my age. ‘The sting comes from wanting those connections, having it hang there sent or seeing the dreaded “read/seen”. Being lonely, in my opinion, is more about that sting than actually being alone.’ You can be lonely even if you don’t live alone.

You don’t have to be totally alone to feel lonely. I live with my fiancé, I work in an office with other people, and I do have some friends, but I still feel incredibly lonely. Sometimes I ring a mental health helpline if my anxiety and loneliness get too hard to handle. Other times, I just crawl under the duvet and imagine having a group of friends to spend Friday night with. After uprooting my life yet again and moving to a new city, I regularly hide in bed after work, too nervous to ask anyone I know in this busy, strange metropolis if they want to go for a drink because they might say no. The fear of pain or rejection stops me from reaching out. Rachel Boyd, Information Manager at the mental health charity Mind, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Feeling isolated from others or the world around you can have a significant impact on how you’re feeling. Having a mental health problem increases your chance of feeling lonely, and feeling lonely can have a negative impact on your mental health. ‘No matter what age you are, people are naturally social creatures and most of us feel the need for social contact and relationships in one form or another. ‘Being sociable and connecting with other people is rewarding in its own right and can help significantly improve your mental wellbeing. But if you’re feeling low or anxious, reaching out to others can be hard and many people isolate themselves from friends and family. ‘Life can be challenging at times and when you’re living with a mental health problem the ups and downs of day-to-day life can be that much harder to manage. ‘In your 20s, you may be facing lots of stressful issues around finances, employment, housing and relationships that can affect your mental health. ‘You may find that friendships change as people’s life circumstances do, or that moving away from home or staying at home while others move away make you feel isolated. Many people find volunteering, starting a hobby or exercising can help manage feelings of loneliness.’ I know I need to take steps to stop these feelings of loneliness eating me alive. The first one was writing this article. If you are concerned that feelings of loneliness are having a negative impact on your mental health, try an online community like Mind’s Elefriends or visit Mind’s info pages on loneliness.

Names Have Been Changed To Protect The Individual.

Huge Thanks to MetroUk for the Blog.

Need support? Contact the Samaritans For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

Social Media- The Effects On A New Generation

Depression is slated to be the leading cause of disability by 2030. Now, research funded by the National Institutes of Health says that, for young adults, heavy social media use is correlated with depression.

This is worth paying attention to.

The research, published in the journal Depression and Anxiety, was the first nationally representative study exploring the link between social media use and depression. It looked at close to 2,000 young adults between the ages of 19-32.

Each participant took an established depression assessment tool and answered questionnaires on social media use. This included the 11 most used platforms at the time: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, Google+, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Vine.

The finding? Basically, that the more time a young adult uses social media, the more likely that person is to be depressed.

This was true even after controlling for other factors that can contribute to depression, including age, sex, ethnicity, relationship status, living situation, household income and education level.

According to the study’s senior author, Brian A. Primack, “Because social media has become such an integrated component of human interaction, it is important … to recognize the balance to be struck in encouraging potential positive use, while redirecting from problematic use.”

In other words, there may be positive ways to use social media, but it’s important to know about the negative ways — and limit them.

On average, study participants were on social media for 61 minutes per day, and visited their different social media accounts 30 times per week. Over 25 percent of the respondents were classified as having “high” indicators of depression.

Interestingly, the amount of time spent on social media was less important than the frequency of that use. For example, those who said they checked social media most frequently were 2.7 times as likely to exhibit signs of depression.

The upshot: if you’re constantly checking Facebook or Instagram, you’re more likely to exhibit signs of depression than if you check once or twice a day.

The study’s lead author, Lui yi Lin, was open about the fact that since this was a cross-sectional study, it could not disentangle cause and effect. In her words, “It may be that people who already are depressed are turning to social media to fill a void.”

She also pointed out that exposing oneself to social media could also cause depression, which could then contribute to even more social media use. For example, if you already feel sad or ashamed of being single and you check Facebook only to see yet another happy couple that just got engaged, it could make you even more depressed, which could prompt you to check social media even more–perhaps even instead of going out and socializing (because, in a depressed person’s mind, “what’s the point?”).

Therapists are likely unsurprised at such findings, considering that social media use comes with a whole host of emotionally dangerous characteristics, including the big one: comparison.

As is often pointed out, the issue with using social media to compare yourself to others is that you’re comparing your reality to their highlight reel. It’s rare to see someone post about their awful performance review; the fight they just had with their significant other; or the negative self-talk they suffered in the car on the way home.

No–it’s far more likely to see posts about the cool cocktail a person had over the weekend; the picture of them climbing Machu Picchu; or the glowing birthday celebration of one spouse to another. It’s hard to keep in mind the negative moments that may exist in those people’s lives when all you’re seeing are those high-vibe images.

In Ms. Lin’s words, “Exposure to highly idealised representations of peers on social media elicits feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier, more successful lives.”

Part of the purpose of the study was to contribute to public health interventions around social media. Some platforms are already taking steps. When you search Tumblr for tags like “depressed” or “suicidal”, you are directed to a message that says, “Everything OK?” and then gives links to resources. Facebook has also tested a feature to allow friends to anonymously alert the platform to those who they’re concerned about, so resources can be directed at them.

“Our hope is that continued research will allow such efforts to be refined so that they better reach those in need,” said Dr. Primack.

In the meantime, it can serve as a wakeup call to see the cold hard numbers, along with the inescapable conclusion they point to: that it’s critical to monitor your social media use.

Your mental health depends on it.

“Comparison is an act of violence against the self.” – Iyanla Vanzant

PUBLISHED ON: MAR 27, 2018