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How are you? No, how are you ….really?

Since the pandemic mental health issues have been on the rise with many struggling with isolation during lockdowns - unable to see family and friends. Readjusting back to our new “normal” has brought its own challenges too, with the cost of living crisis adding another layer of worry and anxiety for many people. We never know the struggles others may be dealing with and Mental Health Awareness Week gives us all pause to look out for each other and ask:

"How are you? No, how are you …really?"

I have a long standing interest in mental health and well being and like everyone else,  I have faced my own personal challenges over the years. Three and a half years ago I decided to do something with purpose and I embarked on a course of part time study - later this summer I will qualify with a Level 4 Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling. 

I wanted to satisfy my interest in psychology and “why we are the way we are” and to add to my skill set for the future - it has been a fascinating and hugely rewarding experience. 

During my studies I completed over 100 clinically supervised practice hours, providing counselling to volunteer clients. The experience was by turns challenging, affecting and immensely fulfilling. The feeling of helping even one person to navigate challenges and come out with better mental and emotional wellbeing is very rewarding. What I had underestimated though, was how much I was to learn about myself during the process.  The training improved my ability to listen and really hear the other person; to empathise and to support. It also laid bare my own core values, highlighting my (conscious or unconscious) biases and taught me how to set those aside to provide clients with unconditional positive support.

I am a big advocate of talking therapy as a means of improving mental and emotional wellbeing. A safe space and a non-judgmental, empathetic listener can make all the difference to someone in distress. Counselling can reduce isolation and help the client to build their own support networks to avoid isolation and loneliness in the future.

Thankfully we live in a time where the stigma about mental health is reducing, and we can speak openly about how we really are. I am delighted that the staff team in CO3 have a Health and Wellbeing plan which provides for counselling support, and I encourage them to use that important resource.

So this Mental Health Awareness Week - reach out and ask someone how they really are – it just may be a lifesaver.

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