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Are there alternatives to drugs for maintaining our children’s mental and emotional wellbeing?

If you missed this BBC documentary, here is the link to catch up with Dr Chris van Tulleken as he investigates whether there are alternative treatments to drugs (in particular Calpol) to treat our children. He focuses on a small group of children who are medicated for Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, otherwise known as ADHD.  https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0b4jjq3/the-doctor-who-gave-up-drugs-series-2-episode-1

Social anxiety


 

Also known as social phobia or fear of social situations. It often starts when a person is in their teens but it can last into adulthood and it can severely affect your ability to cope with social situations. Social anxiety is fear that can wear away your confidence and cause distressing symptoms which can undermine your ability to function at home, school or at work. It can cause an intense dread of everyday social situations, of doing things in front of people and it can limit your ability to engage in activities such as meeting friends, initiating conversations, walking into rooms where there are people, attending parties, engaging in phone conversations and social outings. It can result in staying away from places where there are people which can lead to withdrawal and isolation.

There are various symptoms, such as thinking that people are judging or watching you, or a fear that you will embarrass yourself or that you are not socially capable or competent. Consequently, one’s sense of self-esteem is lowered, confidence is adversely affected causing shyness, leading to avoidance of eye contact and social withdrawal. It may become very difficult to make and keep friends. As a result, you may also experience palpitations, along with a feeling of sickness, sweating and panic attacks. Two young people, Khalid and Laura, who have suffered from this form of anxiety, share their experiences in this short video. (courtesy of Voice Box, Childline’s weekly video chat)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqDX9rntbQs

Social anxiety can be treated with counselling and psychotherapy, such as talking therapy. If you experience social anxiety, the following organisations can offer further advice and information :-

Social Anxiety UK

Anxiety UK

Young Minds

Anxiety Alliance

Mind

 

Is binge drinking really that bad?


Alcohol and binge drinking

Do you regularly binge on alcohol? Are you frequently dealing with a post-binge hangover?  Current health advice by NHS Choices in the UK offers the following recommendations:-

Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.

Spread your drinking over three or more days if you regularly drink as much as 14 units a week.

If you want to cut down, try to have several drink-free days each week.

It is also wise to look at the ABV or alcohol by volume content. ABV is a measure of the amount of pure alcohol as a percentage of the total volume of liquid in a drink. It can be found on the labels of cans and bottles, also written as ‘vol’ or ‘alcohol volume’. E.g. wine that says 12% ABV means that 12% of that wine is pure alcohol.

Strength (ABV) x volume (ml) / 1000 = units

Binge drinking can be harmful and consumption of more than 14 units of alcohol can have a considerable adverse effect in one single binge.

Do you suffer from denial? Is binge drinking really that bad?  This BBC2 Horizon production (2014-15) was made with the guidance of specialist clinicians at the Royal Free Hospital, London. It provides evidence of the adverse impact that bout drinking of 21 units of alcohol can have on the stomach and liver, when consumed in one single drinking session.

 

 

Mental health lead in schools and colleges

 

Schools and colleges are to be given the incentive to appoint a designated “senior lead” for developing a ‘whole school approach to mental health. Their role will be co-ordinate support services, provide pastoral care, support school policy and facilitate access to specialist therapies and NHS services for children. According to a green paper which is to be published on Monday, proposals will enable children in England to access mental health in schools and colleges with £300 million in additional funding over the next three years.

Included in the proposal, new mental health support teams are to improve pathways between schools and the NHS to offer specialist support and treatment. Reduction in waiting times for NHS services, mental health awareness training in schools are also planned.

If planned and delivered effectively, the proposal is a step forward. Hopefully sufficient funding will be allocated to provide consistent, on-going high quality specialist mental health support by a skilled designated senior lead. It would be essential to develop clear care pathways enabling children rapid access to specialist mental health services.

How to deal with panic attacks

A panic attack can be caused by anxiety and stress or by an underlying physical condition. Although not life threatening, panic attacks can be scary and distressing because of intense feelings of dread and irrational fears. Attacks tends to come in waves, varying in intensity and peaking for approximately 10 minutes. The attacks can last for minutes up to a couple of hours and their underlying causes are not always easy to identify. Certain situations, circumstances and certain activities can act as triggers, however in certain circumstances panic attacks can occur randomly. Physical symptoms often accompany panic attacks in the form of palpitations, sweating, shaking or trembling and breathlessness or hyperventilation. These symptoms are the result of adrenaline being released into the bloodstream, which prepares the body for defensive responses as it enters a state of heightened arousal. If our nervous system is unable to stabilise to a calmer state, it can cause an over-exaggeration of threat causing increased anxiety and panic.

There are strategies you can adopt to cope with panic. Firstly, face up to the fear of panic so that it does not control you. Ride out the attack and remain in the situation until the panic subsides. By so doing, you will allow yourself the opportunity to learn that nothing is going to happen. When the panic subsides, continue with what you were doing before the attack. It is helpful to have someone with you who can offer you reassurance that the sensation will pass and you should try not to worry.

Control your breathing

Avoid the urge to take short, shallow breaths. Take longer slow, deeper, gentle breaths. Breathe in through your nose, counting from 1 to 5 then breathe out slowly, deeply, gently through your mouth counting 1 to 5. Do not hold your breath but try to continue breathing in a much slower way. Don’t worry about feeling yourself wanting to yawn but are unable to. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Practice breathing each day to prevent panic. Also view our blog on diaphragmatic breathing.

Eat a healthy diet

Regular healthy meals regulate blood sugars. Be aware that caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and drugs can exacerbate panic and anxiety.

Take regular exercise

Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, helps to alleviate stress and anxiety and release tension. It boosts confidence and can lift mood.

Seek professional support

A trained therapist or counsellor can offer you professional advice and support for anxiety and panic attacks. A short course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help you to find strategies to cope with negative thoughts that accompany panic attacks.

For further information contact Revive Counselling and Therapy.

Email: sue@revivecounsellingandtherapy.com

About sexting

Sexting involves sending a sexual text, image (nudes) or video.  Once you send out an image though, you can’t control what happens to it. Consequently, sexting can lead you to feelings of exposure, anxiety, embarrassment and guilt. It can also lead to bullying, blackmail and harm. If you’re under age 18, sexting is illegal and it remains illegal even when the person in the image, text or video turns past age 18, if the image was taken when the person was under age 18.

If you are passed on a sexual image or video THINK BEFORE YOU SEND… DON’T SHARE….. DON’T PASS IT ON!  Instead think about how the person in the sext might feel if other people saw their image or the video. What could the consequences be for them? For you? Be aware.

If you wish to get an explicit image removed, you can report the image to the hosting site and Net Aware give information about reporting to social media providers. You can also notify CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) of the incident if the person may be at risk of harm.

Think before you click.

Childline and the NSPCC at http://www.nspcc.org.uk offer practical and legal advice about sexting and other issues like bullying, online grooming, sex and how to look after your digital footprint.

Click on this video link to view a video by Childline which offers practical advice about sexting. If you want to learn more about sexting or want to talk to someone about it, you can call Childline free on 0800 1111. You can also download the Zipit app at https://www.childline.org.uk

https://youtu.be/392azAUlUk0

Handy tips for helping you sleep

Insomnia means a lack of sleep, but it also refers to non-restful sleep, early morning waking, waking in the night, or difficulty falling asleep. Sleep forms an integral part of our daily routine and a lack of it can cause irritability, reduce our ability to concentrate and focus and even impair our motor function. Sleep loss can also raise blood pressure, increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes and even weaken the immune system. Sleeplessness can also be a sign of anxiety and depression and it can exacerbate them both. People vary on the amount of sleep they need but on average, a person needs approximately 7-8 hours daily.

Here are some handy tips for helping you sleep.

Do:

  1. Only use your bed for sleep (incl. sex).
  2. Establish a regular bed time / getting up time and keep to a regular bed time routine.
  3. Try having a warm bath or shower before going to bed.
  4. Exercise 5-6 days per week for 30 minutes in the mornings or afternoons.
  5. Make sure you get daily exposure to natural light.
  6. Try using mindful breathing or relaxation techniques before going to bed.
  7. Ensure your pillows and bed are comfortable.
  8. Make sure your sleep environment is relaxing and pleasant and the room temperature is comfortable.
  9. Reduce your alcohol (and drug) intake as these can disrupt your sleep.
  10. Try downloading screen dimming software if required. (E.g. Dimmer, Flux are both good programmes).
  11. Move your clock so that it cannot be seen if you wake up in bed.
  12. Turn off phone email and text alerts
  13. Keep a journal by your bed so that you can jot down things that come to mind when waking.

 

What not to do: 

  1. Avoid taking naps during the day.
  2. Avoid drinking coffee, tea, or energy drinks and lots of liquids during the afternoon.
  3. Avoid taking stimulants (chocolate, nicotine, medication) near bed time.
  4. Don’t eat heavy meals late.
  5. Don’t watch TV or mobile devices in bed or engage in activities that stimulate the brain.

 

Finally, if you are not asleep after 20 minutes of going to bed, get up and do something relaxing such as reading, try a hot milky drink, then return to bed later.

Natural and herbal remedies may assist you to sleep, however these suggestions are recommended without the use of prescribed hypnotics and medication.

If, after a period of time of trying these tips you are still suffering from insomnia, a course of CBT may help you to find ways to sleep.