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“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?




“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

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:


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”;, 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. 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 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

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

Life is Now Keep Smiling


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 ‘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 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 ‘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, 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


Practical Ways To Help A Friend With Deppresion.

Depression can be an incredibly isolating illness. When we’re depressed, it can be hard for us to speak to our friends. We worry about bringing them down, feel awkward and embarrassed, and don’t know how to explain how we’re feeling.  We may try and isolate ourselves, as it seems easier than maintaining a friendship – a friendship we may believe we no longer deserve.Being a friend to someone with depression can be difficult too.  It’s painful to see someone we care about struggling. We desperately want to help but are unsure how. We know the importance of being a friendly ear – but if our friend doesn’t want to talk, or we don’t know what to say, conversation can dry up. We may be looking for more hands-on ways of offering support.Practical Ways to Help a Friend with Depression TEXTBelow we outline some practical things that might help a friend who is living with depression. Some caution is needed before we launch into action, however. What one friend might find helpful, another could find patronising or intrusive. If in doubt, it’s always worth asking our friends before we try and help them. Even if they don’t want our help, they will be touched that we asked.


If we want to offer practical support to our friend, the first thing we can do is ask them how we can help. They might not be able to think of anything – in which case we can offer some of the options below.

However there might be something that’s been stressing them out, or a task they’re really behind with; in which case our help with it may be really appreciated.


Sometimes our friend may struggle to get the help they need because they feel too overwhelmed, or can’t articulate what’s happening in their heads. In which case, they may appreciate a friend joining them at appointments, or speaking to services on their behalf. This can help them get the support they need.

When we’re low or lacking in energy, cleaning is one of the things that can go out of the window. But this feeds into us feeling rubbish about ourselves: we look at our surroundings and wonder why we can’t get it together to tidy up.

If they’re happy for us to, giving a friend a hand around the house – washing up, putting the bins out, giving the kitchen a quick wipe round – can make a massive difference to their mood. Clearing cluttercan make life feel less overwhelming and stressful.


When we have no energy or motivation, cooking can be a real challenge. Thinking through recipes can be impossible when our brains feel like sludge. We often resort to ready-made food, which is fine every now and again, but can make us feel rubbish after a while. Sometimes, we struggle to eat enough at all, which can also impact our mood.

Coming round and helping our friend cook, or cooking for them, can help them improve their diet which in turn may help their mood. Bringing over extra portions of nutritious batch-cooked meals, like curries or soups or stews in tupperware or takeaway containers might also be appreciated. They can be kept in the freezer for no-energy days, and then quickly zapped in the microwave.


Depression can be relentless and recovery is never a straight line. There will be many ups and downs. It might take your friend a long time to start to recover. They might do well for a while then relapse.

Depression can be boring, hard to deal with and frustrating at times. But as impossible as it might feel to us looking on, it will feel ten times more impossible to our friend. Please don’t give up on them.


Depression can remover the joy from everything. It can steal our motivation and energy so we stop doing the things we used to enjoy.  Everything seems pointless and futile anyway.

Encouraging our friend to do the things they used to enjoy, or even doing them with them, may be helpful. Even if they don’t enjoy the activities like they used to, doing something different can help them feel less isolated and empty.


Whether it’s picking up a prescription, filling out paperwork, or something else, we all have errands that we need to do. They can stack up until they feel completely overwhelming.

Helping our friend cross some items off their to-do list can help them feel less overwhelmed, and may make tackling the other errands on their list feel more possible.


There are lots of different types of therapy available. Sometimes there are charities or non-NHS services nearby that may be able to provide additional support on top of what the NHS can offer. They might be more specific to our situation than general mental health support.  But when our brains are on go-slow, it’s hard to research these services.

It can be helpful then to research local services on our friends behalf. A quick internet search might result in some options our friend hadn’t considered, which could be just what they need to get back on their feet.


Fresh air and a bit of exercise can help to improve our mood, but when we’re unwell it can be really hard to find the courage or motivation to leave the house.

Taking our friend outside for a wander, driving them somewhere calming like a secluded beach or at the very least encouraging them to open their windows, can offer a much-needed breath of fresh air.


If our friend feels able to, meeting up with them in a café can be a positive experience for them. It encourages them to get out of bed, get dressed, and get out of the house. It gives us the chance to catch up. We don’t need to have a serious, mental health focussed chat; even general chit chat can help us to feel connected with the world and each other.


When our heads feel foggy, it’s hard to remember the things we need to speak to health professionals about.

Helping our friend write a list of all the things they need to talk about can be really helpful. They can take the list to their appointments, so they feel less anxious about forgetting anything, and can maximise the time they have available.


If our friend lives alone – or even if they live with others – they might not get hugs very often. If we have a “huggy” relationship with them, a proper hug whenever we see them may well be appreciated.


If it’s convenient, we can invite our friend food shopping with us. This can help them in a few ways. It forces our friend to do the job rather than procrastinating it for yet another day. It can remove any problems associated with getting to the shops. And it can help them get fresh mood-boosting food in the house. On top of that, you get to spend time together.

If we shop online, we can still invite our friend to join in with us. Even though this essentially means sitting in the same room on different laptops, it still helps. We can support our friend in making decisions what to buy (decisions can be very difficult when we’re depressed). It makes an overwhleming job less of a chore.


Laughter can be lacking when depression strikes. Depression recovery isn’t as simple as ‘just cheering up’. However, doing things to help our friend laugh can lift their mood. It could be watching a funny film, texting funny memes, watching some comedy on TV, playing Twister, or bringing a 3-year-old round. We all find different things funny.


Giving our friend lifts to places can remove a barrier from going to appointments or doing jobs. If they have to rely on public transport, the thought involved in planning it can feel overwhelming so they just don’t bother. If they have to walk or cycle, the energy involved in doing so can mean they don’t bother. Even if they have a car, they might not feel well enough to drive, or might keep procrastinating the things they need to do.

As well as removing a layer of stress about getting to places, giving our friend a lift offers them some company, a chance to catch up briefly, and a little bit of moral support.


At times, our friend might struggle to feel safe in their house, or might just need a break. Staying overnight at someone else’s house can give them company and some respite from their head for an evening.


Putting on a rubbish movie can offer a welcome distraction for a few hours. If movies aren’t our friend’s bag,  another low energy activity that doesn’t require much thought could also be a welcome distraction.  Drop them a text and suggest something, or ask them if there’s something they’d like to meet up and do.


Whether we’re at home or in hospital, it’s always nice to know that people care. Depression feeds us lies and tells us that people don’t like us and don’t want to spend time with us. Plus we often stop spending time with people because we don’t want to bring them down.

Visiting a friend can help them shut down this worry. Our presence reminds them that they are loved and that people do care.


For more ideas on helping a friend with depression, we have a guide to Supporting Someone With Depression, which is free to download:

Please help us to help others and share this post, you never know who might need it.

credits to The Blurt Team for their work –

How Leader’s Can Influence Mental Health in the Work Place.

Your Business DNA.

I am a true believer that any business no matter what it’s organisationsl structure has a DNA influence, one that sets a tone for the environment of the workplace for its employees. Irrelevant of if a small business, Plc companies, multimillion pound conglomerate, retail, service sector, call centre. Every environment will have a feel to it. My question is very simple, how important is it to your as a leader of a business and your senior management. Do you personally welcome someone to the business on their very first day and talk about the way you want them to feel in the workplace, that you set out what’s important for everyone and why everyone have the right to come to work and enjoy their job.

Sounds a big ask, but this is something I have believed in all my working life, so much so, that on the very first day of an employees journey I talk at least 45 minutes with them personally. Believe me it truly sets a tone and expectation, most of all trust, respect and communication has started on a great footing. I take about that right to enjoy their job, as an example I also state I also want to come to work and enjoy my job as one of the team.

I also talk about training and advice available to them, this process starts the wellbeing journey for me. Knowing that I have already connected as a leader is hugely important. Life is changing and leadership must change with it, I call it flexible leadership in s very diverse society. Meaning our approach’s must be diverse also.

Wellness in the Workplace

Picture of rocks

Just like the ever-changing seasons, organisations must constantly adapt to their environment, whether it be strategic objectives, human resources or organisational climate. Because an organisation is only as effective as its employees, it is necessary to take care of them.

Mental health is an important element of employee well-being and effectiveness. When employees feel that their voices are no longer heard, that their skills are not valued and that leadership does not align with their personal values, the effects can be disastrous on work climate.

Leadership, therefore, has a direct impact on workplace climate, health and well-being. Leaders must be humble and open. They must also consider the importance of future generations. Students and future employees are much more exposed and aware of all aspects of mental health. Because it is a subject that is much less taboo for them, they will expect an organizational culture that takes it into account.

It’s Never Too Late to Do Some Good

I still hear executives expressing that they are not there to be liked by their employees or to contribute to their personal fulfillment. Hearing that saddens me every time. Leaders need to understand that they can really make a difference in the lives of employees.

Here are some ways that leaders can make improvements:

  • Recognise the humanity of each individual and his or her skills
  • Know and perfect your own emotional intelligence
  • Do not let your fear of seeming incompetent take over
  • Align shared employee values with the company’s mandate
  • Be present with employees, greet them, engage them in discussion and include them with authenticity
  • Organise short quarterly meetings with all your employees
  • Organise an annual event that bring them together
  • Openly talk about mental health & wellbeing, talk about it, share information on notice boards and in meetings.
  • Reduce sending emails, never send any outside working hours unless urgent and important.
  • Talk about the stuff that motivates you as a leader, so they truly see the human side of you.
  • be an inspiration, not by the usual stuff, be seen to volunteer / raise money as a team for a cause and get there positive supportive- ask your team to choose a charity of the year to support.

The gap in performance and well-being between a team focused on control-and-task and a team focused on innovation-and-empowerment is enormous.  Research shows that the ROI in a healthy workplace can be up to sixfold. Simply put have a very clear and defined communication plan that your whole leadership buy into. The buy product will be a workplace that everyone wants to stay in, meaning better productivity and retention.

Let Your Team Know- You Do Listen!

Favor self-determination by your team because they are best positioned to know that something is not working optimally in the organisation or within the management team, for example. Discuss your observations, fears and objectives for yourself as a leader, for your team and for your organisation. Ask their opinions for solutions, trust me they do have them

An analysis of your cultural values will provide an excellent starting point for identifying the issues and initiating a dialogue with you and your team, especially with feedback forums- in the art of team meetings not social media!

Recognise Your Business DNA 

We have talked about discussing the DNA of your buisness, but what does it truly represent to you and your team? I challenge you to ask your team? Gain their thoughts on what are the great aspects of working in the business. Then agree they will be the principles that will shared with all new recruits, in job interviews and even with your customers. It will change your business positively forever, your team will feel supported and become the ambassadors of the business whilst ensuring the wellbeing of each other is maintained.


As a leader we will still have the challenging days, difficult scenarios. However with a positive approach to celebrating successes, your business DNA and most importantly a good communication plan with your team, you will master those hard times even better as a collect and not just as an individual.

Go and have a great day with your team.

Marcus Jones

Business Leader and Founder of The Links Foundation