Championing Mental Health

Chris Sly highlights the importance of looking after our mental health, through his experience of a Mental Health First Aider course and his friend Dan Edwards.

I wrote the below testimonial for my friend Daniel Edwards who’s been championing mental health and wellbeing courses as a mental health first aid instructor throughout the pandemic and is a great teacher and coach when it comes to health and wellbeing. I’ve also written below the testimonial because I think it’s so important to be talking about mental health now.

Testimonial for Dan Edwards, wellbeing coach and personal trainer.

Dan helped me through a personally turbulent part of my life. Some of the things Dan shared with me at this point I still practice, and I feel like I’m back to feeling in a good mood every day. Like I said, everyone needs a friend like Dan.

Dan’s passion for helping people comes out when he’s discussing health and wellbeing. He’s got a way of communicating often complicated and difficult to talk about topics in a way that makes it all seem easy. Dan is very knowledgeable on physical and mental health which make him the rounded professional when it comes to helping people on their own journey.

Dan’s welcoming and calm nature puts people at ease, and he used this to great effect during the recent Mental Health First Aider (MHFA England) course. Like I said, he made it seem easy to encourage people to contribute to the group discussions on topics that can be distressing and challenging for some. He shared lived experiences and insight, and by the end me and the others in the group felt confident to communicate what we had learned on the course and to implement this ourselves.

It's true that social isolation and loneliness are bad for your health, in fact they are associated with higher rates of depression, a weakened immune system, heart disease, dementia and early death. Staying connected to friends, family, colleagues, people that you nod/wave at in the gym, pool or the pub, or local cafe or anywhere else has never been so important.

The pandemic has been a reminder of our collective responsibility to look after our own mental health and that we are social beings who need to stay close to one another to survive. This is easy to say, but harder to do in a world where we are all on the go, all the time. As I said above, I recently attended a mental health first aid course because I felt it was the right time for me to learn new skills when so many of us are struggling. I had a rough patch this time last year and my friends helped me through, it also helped having a supportive line manager who gave me the space I needed to get back on my feet. It became apparent to me at that time that I needed to learn new skills for myself but also to help others as and when they need it on their journey. We’re all human and we all have tough times with our mental health but don’t worry tough times don’t last, there’s good people out there.

So, what are the ‘skills’?

  1. Seeking ways to improve your mental health awareness and coping skills whether that’s through MHFA or another charity, or with an employer or elsewhere.
  2. Discovering ways that daily gratitude, a regular daily dose of sunlight and physical activity, whilst doing something that’s good for the soul for 30mins everyday are all good ways to keep yourself in check.
  3. ‘The greatest weapon against stress is the ability to pick one thought, over another.’ – William James.

Studies from Harvard University show that gratitude allows us to experience more intimate and close connections, sunlight boosts our motivation and stimulates the release of serotonin in the brain. Activity at pace, whether that’s training for a marathon or just taking a walk, alleviates stress, protects our memory as we age and helps us cope with the day-day stress. And doing something that’s good for the soul like listening to soul music every day is important just because it’s fun.

Keep smiling and act now.

Chris Sly is the CEO and Founder of Insurance Media Shed, a company focused on insurance and mental health. Mental Health champion. Writes about topics important to him.

Chris is passionate about promoting mental health awareness and ensuring that those who need help can access it easily. In his spare time, he enjoys writing articles on various topics that are important to him. He also loves spending time with his family and friends - especially his girlfriend who is a radiographer! Birmingham City is his team - he loves going to watch them play at St Andrews Stadium! You can find him on LinkedIn here, or on Twitter at @InsuranceShed.

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