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Alcohol Awareness Week

smiling woman looking happy

This week (16 – 20 November) is Alcohol Awareness Week, and this year’s campaign focuses on the link between alcohol and mental health.

There is no doubt that this year has been more challenging than usual, causing more stress and anxiety, which in turn can lead us to drink more alcohol. This strain on our mental health can be tough, without the added difficulties that drinking too much alcohol can bring.

Look after yourself

Due to the current situation, we are all spending more time at home and we can’t do many of the things we would usually do to make us feel good. However, there are several simple things you can do to take care of your mental health and wellbeing.

Take care of your physical health

Maintain a healthy lifestyle as far as you can. Take regular exercise, whether it’s going for a walk or run, following an online workout, or stretching. Eat healthily to ensure you’re getting all of the right nutrients and try to get enough sleep.

Relax and reduce stress

Reduce worry by limiting your time spent watching or reading the news. Listen to music, read a book, or take a relaxing bath. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a stressful situation, take a break, go for a walk or try some breathing exercises or meditation.

Stay connected

Reach out to friends and family through phone and video calls, or even email and social media. It’s important to talk to others about how you are feeling. You may find they are facing similar challenges, so you can share your experiences to support each other.

Drink responsibly

Just do your best. If you do have a drink, pace yourself, try to limit the number of units you have and have a few days off each week.

Useful resources

AlcoholChangeUK

Find out more about alcohol awareness week and information on support available for you or someone you care about, including tips on how to cut down.

One You Kensington and Chelsea

Eat well, move more, lose weight, be smoke free and drink less with the borough’s free integrated healthy lifestyle service. The website holds lots of information and advice to help you live a healthier lifestyle, or you can sign up to receive tailored help to reach your goals.

Community Living Well

You may find these past news articles helpful:

Keeping your mind and body fit

Sleep and anxiety

Food and mood

Need extra support?

If you are aged 16 or over and registered with a GP in Kensington & Chelsea or Queen’s Park Paddington, and you are battling stress, anxiety or low mood, you can refer yourself to Community Living Well. Speak to your GP or complete this online form.

 


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 17th November 2020


Autumn/Winter 2020 magazine is now available!

Community Living Well magazine Autumn/Winter 2020

Welcome to the Autumn/Winter 2020 edition of the Community Living Well magazine. We hope you have been keeping safe and well during this difficult time.

The situation regarding Covid-19 and lockdown is changing all the time, which is bringing a lot of uncertainty to our lives. We wanted to include articles that provide practical help and advice on issues that many of us may be dealing with at the moment.

We’ve written an article about suicide prevention to highlight how important it is to talk openly about this – a subject that many of us find challenging. It is vital that we are aware of our own wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of those around us.

Throughout the pandemic, people have shown courage and resilience – there have been many positive stories to tell, so we focus on some of the incredible voluntary organisations that have helped our community. We also tell you about the ways in which we are continuing to support people using Community Living Well services.

Plus…

The Community Living Well magazine includes information on what to do if you are facing eviction from your home, or if you have been made redundant from your job since lockdown.

If you have any suggestions, features, stories or feedback about the magazine, please contact me, Stewart, at [email protected].

Community Living Well is a mental health service for those registered with a GP in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, or the Queen’s Park and Paddington areas of Westminster. The services on offer include talking therapies, support groups, help with employment and support with debt, housing and benefits issues. Self-referrals can be made here. For more information please call 020 3317 4200.


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 6th November 2020


Employment During Second Lockdown

worried lady looking for support during lockdown

Now that we have entered the second national lockdown of the year, many of us are feeling worried or anxious about the uncertainty of COVID-19 and the affects it is having on our lives. One of the biggest worries comes if you cannot work due to the lockdown restrictions, so we’ve compiled the latest information about furlough, tips on how you can find temporary work and where you can find additional support during lockdown.

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR WORKERS

On Thursday 5 November 2020, the government announced that it would be extending its furlough scheme into Spring 2021, giving businesses and people support during lockdown in the winter months.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will now run until the end of March with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked.

Similarly, if you are self-employed, support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be increased, with the third grant covering November to January calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT

The government also announced that cash grants of up to £3,000 per month are available for businesses which have to close during lockdown, and the mortgage payment holiday for homeowners has also been extended.

For all of the information about the latest announcement, visit gov.uk

LOOKING FOR WORK DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Although some businesses have been forced to close until further notice, there are still some who continue to operate by working from home or are considered essential roles.

For non-essential roles, your interview would likely be over the phone or video call. For essential roles such as supermarket assistants, the interview would be face-to-face.

Get in touch with our employment team for some interview tips.

WHERE CAN I FIND WORK?

There may be job opportunities in essential services that must continue to operate during lockdown. Supermarkets might be looking for store assistants, delivery drivers and warehouse workers; you can find opportunities on individual company websites. The NHS have been keen for retired nurses, doctors and healthcare assistants to return, as well as those interested in roles such as porters, cleaners, bed buddies, ward helpers and support workers. These roles are advertised on the NHS Jobs website. Other essential roles include food delivery drivers for companies like Uber Eats and Deliveroo to service those who are self-isolating.

For support with your mental health and wellbeing…

If you are struggling with anxiety, stress or low mood and you feel you need extra support, you can refer yourself to the Community Living Well service here.

 


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Employment
Posted on: 6th November 2020


Latest Workshops and Groups

woman attending online group using her laptop

Although we can’t offer our usual face-to-face meetings at the moment, our Talking Therapies and Peer Support teams are offering online alternatives. There is a range of groups, workshops and webinars for you to get involved in if you are feeling anxious, stressed or isolated.

Living Well Workshops

These weekly workshops provide a safe and supportive space to develop skills and knowledge to manage the stresses and difficulties in your life. Each session is different, covering a variety of subjects related to your wellbeing, including Getting a better night’s sleep, Self-care for anxiety, Relaxation and wellbeing, Food and mood, and Stress and wellbeing.

Mental Health Peer Support Groups

These weekly online groups bring people together to give and receive mutual support in a peer support setting, to help manage daily stresses. It’s your chance to talk about your mental health, an opportunity to learn about how others in similar situations manage their symptoms and connect with people who know what it’s like to feel the way you do.

Talking Therapies (IAPT) Webinars

These 4-week courses include Understanding Trauma: supporting clients in having a better understanding of PTSD and to manage symptoms of PTSD that they may be experiencing; Stress Less: supporting clients in understanding generalised anxiety and how it can impact us on a daily basis; and Step Forward: using CBT techniques to increase levels of physical activity in order to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

You can find full details of these and many more upcoming groups on our Events page.

To attend these groups and workshops, you must be registered with Community Living Well. You can refer yourself by completing this online form, or call us on 020 3317 4200.

 


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Peer Support, Talking Therapies
Posted on: 29th October 2020


World Mental Health Day 2020

Saturday 10 October 2020 is World Mental Health Day. This year has been particularly difficult for all of us; the pandemic and months of lockdown restrictions have had a massive impact on our daily lives as well as our mental health.

The Mental Health Foundation has been conducting research throughout the pandemic on how people are feeling. Results from the July study, when lockdown had begun to ease, showed:

  • Almost one in five (19%) of UK adults feeling hopeless
  • More than one-quarter (27%) of unemployed people feeling hopeless
  • Almost one-third (32%) of young adults aged 18-24 feeling hopeless
  • Almost one-third (31%) of people with pre-existing mental health conditions feeling hopeless

Source: Mental Health Foundation, July 2020 (www.mentalhealth.org.uk)

Prioritise your mental health

Prioritising your mental health is more important now than ever before, so we want to create as much awareness as possible on this World Mental Health Day, and to remind you that Community Living Well is here for you.

We offer the following services:

  • Talking Therapies (IAPT) – Short-term support for when you experience difficult emotions, such as, low mood, worry and stress
  • Peer Support – Wellbeing workshops, one-to-one peer support, peer support groups, social activities and peer support training with other people who have had similar experiences to you
  • Employment – Advice and support to gain and retain paid employment, improve your employability skills and know your rights in the workplace
  • Navigators – Practical support with a range of issues including benefits, debt, housing options, access to health and social care services and support to access specialist advice and information
  • Self-Care – Support and activities that help you to take care of your own mental, emotional and physical wellbeing

You can refer yourself to the Community Living Well service here


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 6th October 2020


Men’s Mental Health

man holding head dealing mental health issues

While many of the same difficulties are experienced by both men and women, there is a difference in the way they address them. Here we look at the importance of men’s mental health and how to support someone who may need it…

Women tend to be more open in discussing their feelings, whereas men have a tendency to keep to themselves and suffer in silence. Quite often they turn to distraction techniques such as spending more time working, drinking more than usual or visiting their ‘man cave’ more often.

A report published by Public First reveals that 28% of men have experienced symptoms of a mental health issue that they believed may require treatment during the last 12 months, but have decided not to seek medical help. Another research conducted by Time to Change revealed that three-quarters of the men surveyed won’t open up to their friends about their mental health struggles and concerns for fear of being a burden. Of those that take their lives in the UK, 75% of them are men.

So why do men choose to suffer in silence?

One of the main reasons is societal gender norms; men should be “tough” and “fearless” and they aren’t really men if they show any sign of weakness. This is called “toxic masculinity”. Some men may also find it difficult to verbalise or even recognise their problems.

Left undetected and untreated, it can lead men to suffer from immense hopelessness, withdrawal and a shutdown of normal activity. It’s important to recognise the signs and encourage each other to speak about how we’re feeling – there’s no shame in feeling vulnerable, lost or sad; everyone experiences these emotions.

How do I support someone who may need it?

  • Ask them twice. Some men are unwilling to open up the first time you ask them how they are; but the simple act of asking again shows a genuine willingness to listen and talk.
  • Read between the lines. 35% of men have said that if they wanted to talk to a friend about their mental health, they would ask how their friend is doing first and hope they’d ask them back.
  • Know when to end the banter. We all like a bit of banter from time to time, but it’s important to know when to stop when someone isn’t in the mood. If you notice a friend is acting differently, ask them how they’re doing. Remember, ‘grow up’ and ‘man up’ are not effective phrases – 42% of men have said these are conversation blockers.
  • If he invites you out one-on-one, he may want to chat. 63% of men have said that they would be most comfortable talking about their mental health with someone they trust. Try to just listen and create some space for your friend to share what’s on their mind.
  • Let them know they are supported. No need to make it awkward – just let them know you’re there for them. You don’t have to give advice, you just need to be the good friend you’ve always been.

Growing connections through authentic listening and sharing

Peer Support run a men’s group once a month. It’s a safe haven for you to meet other men and hear their stories.

Hearing other men’s stories that resonates with yours can help decrease feelings of loneliness as you get together to talk in an authentic, accepting and non-judgmental way.

To attend the group, you will need to refer to the Peer Support service. Please see below for details on how to refer.

If you would like to find out more about the Men’s Group, please contact 020 3317 4200 or email [email protected].

If you are experiencing any of the issues mentioned…

To refer yourself to the Peer Support service, please complete this online form or call 020 3317 4200.

This story ‘In the spotlight: Men’s Mental Health’ was originally published in the Winter 2020 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Peer Support
Posted on: 1st October 2020


Keeping your mind and body fit

Woman getting ready to run to keep fit

We often think of mental and physical health as two separate things, but the truth is, they are very closely linked. When we feel good physically, we tend to feel more positive and better about life – it is important to keep your mind and body fit.

Things that can be good for our physical health can also have a hugely positive impact on our mental health. Keeping active is a very powerful tool for doing this. We are all aware that exercise can improve physical health by making us stronger and reduce the risk of certain diseases. What is less known is that exercise can improve our mental wellbeing; how we feel and our ability to cope with the stresses of day-today life.

What is it about exercise that makes us feel good?

When we exercise, chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins are released which help to naturally stabilise and lift our mood and improve our sleep.

Regular exercise can increase our energy levels throughout the day and even enhance our ability to learn and memorise new things. On top of this, doing physical activity can give us a huge sense of achievement and help us to discover new interests and meet new people.

Often many of us hear the word exercise and panic, thinking we should be running marathons or lifting unearthly weights at the gym, but this isn’t the case!

Exercise can be anything that gets us moving; from doing our weekly shop or cleaning the house to dancing or going for a walk. No matter our age or fitness level, we can all seek the benefits of exercise.

By improving your physical health, it should help with improving your mood and wellbeing!

Need extra support?

We’re here to help. We are still accepting referrals during the current pandemic. We offer the following services:

  • Talking Therapies (IAPT) – Short-term support for when you experience difficult emotions, such as, low mood, worry and stress
  • Peer Support – Wellbeing workshops, one-to-one peer support, peer support groups, social activities and peer support training with other people who have had similar experiences to you
  • Employment – Advice and support to gain and retain paid employment, improve your employability skills and know your rights in the workplace
  • Navigators – Practical support with a range of issues including benefits, debt, housing options, access to health and social care services and support to access specialist advice and information
  • Self-Care – Support and activities that help you to take care of your own mental, emotional and physical wellbeing

This story ‘Keep your mind and body fit’ was originally published in the Winter 2020 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Self-Care
Posted on: 24th September 2020


World Suicide Prevention Day

Thursday 10 September was World Suicide Prevention Day. Many of us are affected by suicide or suicidal feelings throughout our lives. Even though mental health awareness has increased in recent years, talking about suicide is still widely stigmatised. Too many of us suffer in silence.

“I couldn’t see past the pain. It was a different reality for me. I only knew I wanted the pain to stop, the anguish to go away.”

We know that it can be scary talking to someone about their suicidal feelings, but it really can make a difference.

To help you do this, mental health charity, Mind, has pulled together some tips. You can find these on their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts yourself, they also have some information you may find helpful, including how you can access treatment and support. And if you feel that your life is at risk, please seek urgent medical help now by calling 999 or going straight to A&E if you can. Mental health emergencies are serious. You’re not wasting anyone’s time.

Please take care of yourself.

If you are experiencing some of the issues mentioned…

If you feel you need additional support, our Talking Therapies service may be able to help. You can register for the service by completing this self-referral form.


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Uncategorised
Posted on: 17th September 2020


Sleep and anxiety

lady lying awake in bed wants to overcome issues with sleep and anxiety

There are plenty of benefits to a good night’s sleep. However, we sometimes find ourselves tossing and turning with feelings of dread and unease. If you find yourself in this position, there are some simple things you can do to help manage your sleep and anxiety.

Why can’t I sleep?

Many people suffer from sleep problems, including the inability to fall asleep, regularly waking up during the night and not being able to fall back asleep again, and early waking. The cause of some sleep problems may be related to physical health, for instance the effect of a health condition or medication you are taking. However, often the underlying cause is psychological, for instance symptoms of anxiety, depression or trauma. It is important to seek help from your GP for these underlying psychological problems.

You may be someone who finds that as soon as you lie in bed emotions or thoughts come to the surface. This may be a sign that you’re not attending to these emotions in your waking hours. Make time to know what you’re feeling and try and find an outlet, such as a journal, creating a worry list or talking to others for support.

If this doesn’t improve things, then think about talking to your GP about potentially accessing a talking therapy or you can self-refer to our service.

What can I do to improve my sleep?

Sleep hygiene is a set of good habits that can help improve sleep. Here are some tips and recommendations to help overcome issues with sleep and anxiety:

  • Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day and avoid naps. A regular routine helps train your body for sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine for four to six hours before bedtime as they are both stimulants that affect your sleep. Instead have some warm milk or chamomile tea.
  • Don’t use alcohol to help you sleep. While it may make you sleepy in the immediate short-term, it has a negative effect on the quality of your sleep and can lead to you developing a dependency.
  • If you have trouble falling asleep, try to distract yourself with breathing exercises, meditation or deep muscle relaxation.
  • Avoid using smartphones, tablets or other electronic devices for an hour or so before you go to bed as the light from the screen may have a negative effect on sleep.
  • Try not to clock-watch. A lot of people worry about not getting enough sleep, but watching the clock makes you more tense and anxious, which leads to you being more stimulated and less likely to fall asleep.
  • Your bed is for sleeping so try to help entrench this connection by not using it as a place to do other activities, such as watching television, eating or surfing the internet.
  • Develop rituals before bedtime. For instance, having a warm bath can help you feel sleep, or do some meditation or stretching exercises.
  • A good diet can help with good sleep. Try to avoid heavy meals before bed. However, an empty stomach can be quite distracting so if you’re hungry, have a light snack.
  • Your bedroom ideally needs to be dark, quiet, tidy and be kept at a temperature of 18C and 24C

Helpful resources

Sleepio is an online sleep improvement programme based on CBT principles. It’s free for people living in London. Download it here: www.good-thinking.uk/sleepio

Overcoming Insomnia and Sleep Problems: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques by Colin A. Espie

If you are experiencing some of the issues mentioned…

If you feel you need additional support to overcome your concerns with sleep and anxiety, our Talking Therapies service may be able to help. You can register for the service by completing this self-referral form.

This story was originally published in the Winter 2020 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.

 

 


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Talking Therapies, Uncategorised
Posted on: 9th September 2020


Overcoming back to work anxiety

lady looking out of bedroom window

If you have been working from home since lockdown began, it is likely that you have not set foot into your office. As lockdown continues to ease and we are settling into a ‘new normal’, you may be feeling anxious about having to return to work. Thoughts around whether it is safe to commute or if there are enough safety precautions in place may play on your mind.

Adapting to any kind of change can be challenging. But when you add anxiety around catching the virus and transmitting it to others, it is hardly surprising that you would be dreading returning to the office. Instead of staying home and keeping safe from the virus, you’re now being told it’s okay to catch public transport and return to your pre-pandemic lives.

These feelings of unease are completely normal and you are not alone in feeling them. There are also some things you can do to help ease return to work anxiety.

Talk to your employer

If you’re feeling anxious about your  return to work, talk to your employer and colleagues and share your thoughts with them. Chances are they are feeling some of the same feelings you are. If the main source of your anxiety is commuting, ask your employer if you can work flexibly so you can travel outside of busy periods or work from home a couple days a week.

Be prepared

Lockdown has meant that a lot of us have had to adapt to new patterns – whether that’s work, sleep or routine. Give yourself time to adapt to returning to work. Start doing things that you would normally do pre-pandemic such as going to bed early and waking up when you normally would when you’ve had to go into the office. Similarly, make sure you’re finishing at your usual time so you’re maintaining a pattern. You may feel obligated to work longer hours to catch up on time lost from the office but overworking can affect your mental health.

Remember to be gentle with yourself on your first few days back because you’re not used to commuting or working in an office.

Be kind to yourself

It’s especially important to be kind to yourself during this transition period. Taking care of your body and mind may help ease your anxieties so make sure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and getting a good night’s sleep.

Remember to also take time out for yourself and do things that relax you, such as:

  • Meditating
  • Going for a walk or a run
  • Reading a book
  • Doing something mindful like drawing or writing

Know what support is available for you

Alongside speaking to your employer and expressing any concerns you may have about returning to work, it’s important to be aware of any policies and measures being put in place by the company you work for. It’s also important to be aware of your rights when it comes to working during the pandemic.

Helpful resources

Here are some resources you may find useful to help with managing stress and anxieties associated with returning to work:

Are you experiencing some of the things mentioned here?

If you need extra support or need to speak to someone, you can refer to our Employment Team. They can provide you with practical advice on returning to work, knowing your employment rights and signposting you to other services for more information. You can self-refer to the service on our website.


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Employment
Posted on: 3rd September 2020


SMART St Mary Abbots Rehabilitation and Training