Mental health: We need to look after each other in these difficult times and I've found a great book that really helps – Hayley Matthews

I was on BBC Radio Scotland earlier in the week with Kaye Adams and Dr Emma Hepburn talking mental health.

By Hayley Matthews
Saturday, 24th October 2020, 7:00 am
We need to talk about mental health issues to remove any remaining stigma about the problems that many people can face (Picture: John Devlin)
We need to talk about mental health issues to remove any remaining stigma about the problems that many people can face (Picture: John Devlin)

I joked that I'd been on the show talking about mental health more times than I've had hot dinners, but it's true! The reason I'm so open is because there's still such a stigma around us admitting our mental health is suffering and the more we talk the easier it is for others to open up and understand.

We all have mental health and it needs looking after just as much as the rest of our body and soul does. I was giving my thoughts on Dr Hepburn’s pictorial book on mental health called "A tool kit for modern life" and if I felt it helped me. And yes it absolutely did.

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It's a cheery book with lots of pictures depicting coping strategies and really breaks down some of the processes that can start to spiral in your mind to a point where you feel you can't cope. The book has a toolkit and explains how we all need a toolkit for our mental health and I love this strategy.

For those not familiar with depression and anxiety, this book surely will help explain things. The picture on page 67 of the thermometer is a great starting point for anyone trying to understand their feelings.

When I'm feeling low and unable to go in to all the explanations of why, how, when etc, I tell Kenny where I am. I sometimes use numbers, zero being utter despair and five being winning at life. I tend to operate at about a four but just a few knocks and I can quickly be down at a one or two.

For someone on the outside looking in, this can be hard to comprehend how and why things can change in a matter of hours, yet when you show others a scale of coping/not coping, it can help them. The thermometer drawing is a great indicator for anyone to check in with themselves and others on how they're feeling. What a great and simple idea.

Dr Hepburn's book is even used in parts of the mental health sector and I strongly believe it should be a staple in schools, that way we'd have fewer kids suffering poor mental health, unable to explain and more understanding of what's going on.

If there's ever a time for checking in with our children's mental health and our own, it's surely now! I'm really determined to teach my kids that their mental health is just as important as the rest of their health and with the current global situation I'm hearing more and more people say that their kids seem anxious and are displaying signs of distress and anxiety.

It's tough for kids who are feeling like this and really not pleasant, kids should be enjoying their childhood carefree and with all caution to the wind.

I don't pretend to have all the answers but talking about mental health, understanding it and educating ourselves is surely the first step and what better way than to pick up a book and fill ourselves with knowledge. Our kids will thank us for it, believe me.

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