As a Mental Health First Aider with MHFA I offer a few resources that you might find helpful over the coming weeks to help with our Well Being at this time, which I commend to you. Updates posted in Blue
Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 (18—24 May)
Mental Health Awareness Week has been hosted by the Mental Health Foundation since 2001.
This year, in the light of the Coronavirus pandemic, the charity decided to change its theme for Mental Health Awareness Week, and has invited us to reflect on the theme of Kindness.
“We feel that now more than ever we need to re-discover our connection to kindness and each other in our daily lives. It therefore feels right to use Mental Health Awareness Week this year to celebrate the many thousands of acts of kindness that are so central to the quality of our mental health.”
The Mental Health Foundation website offers a range of tips and advice on how to look after your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Also see the Wellbeing page on the Methodist Church website
Depression can happen to anyone, but there are some factors or experiences that can make it more likely to happen, such as in this case – a bereavement.
It is important to note that all-consuming sadness after a bereavement is very normal and entirely appropriate considering the circumstances. It is also not unusual for sadness to last a long time.
The difference between sadness that lasts a long time and depression can be a bit of a blurry line. However, there are certain ‘symptoms’ that people may experience when they are depressed that some people may not get when they are sad. People who are depressed may experience some of the following symptoms;
- A persistent low mood
- Trouble sleeping
- Low energy levels
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
Breaking out of the cycle of depression
When people feel depressed it is not unusual for their motivation to be very low and for them to find themselves doing less and less. However, one of the first recommendations for people who are feeling low in mood is to increase their activity levels. This may be the opposite of what you feel like doing but it can have a positive effect.
Increasing activity levels can in turn increase your energy levels and can help break a negative cycle of thoughts. And an activity does not have to be a physical activity – it can also include doing activities for your mind.
Some examples of activities to try include;
- Going for a walk
- Visiting a friend
- Meditating or listening to a relaxation CD (we have one we can send you if you would like – just contact us via the Contact page)
- Clear out that cupboard you’ve been meaning to get around to for a while
- Engage in a hobby you used to have
- Talking to someone
- Going to the cinema
These can be done in small doses but are definitely worth a try!
Hymns for health and healing
Reading the words of hymns can be a meaningful way of exploring feelings about our own mental health, and thinking about the issues more generally.
In 2019, Andrew Brown offered a new hymn, We pray for healing and for health. It’s a prayer for healing in many diverse contexts, as well as a re-assertion of God’s restorative power:
We pray for healing and for health;
for all who suffer in this world,
with minds that cannot bear its strains,
with bodies aching, full of pain.
Restoring God, we look to you,
bring healing to all people here.
Andrew is not alone in perceiving the need for more hymns that reflect our prayers “for healing and for health”, not least in relation to poor mental health. (See our interview with URC hymn writer Jan Berry, More to say about healing, recently updated.)
Andrew recognises the full, diverse extent of healing that we seek, both as individuals and as a society; the very many situations in which “hopelessness has taken root”. Also worth revisiting in this context is his more recent hymn, When life is shaken to its core, which he revised in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.
It echoes, in places, the writing of William Cowper who vividly expressed his own mental turmoil in hymn-poem form. See Pain and passion in the hymns of William Cowper.
Also within the printed hymn book, you may find it helpful to re-read these hymns:
O Christ, the healer, we have come to pray for health (StF 653) by Fred Pratt Green
Your words to me are life and health (StF 164) by George Currie Martin
Martin Leckebusch’s hymn When circumstances make my life too hard to understand (StF 641) echoes in part a difficult time in his own life. Laurence Wareing’s personal reflection on Martin’s words points to the broader “uncertainty and fear that so frequently we are unable to share amongst those with whom we gather to worship”.
From Singing the faith plus website.
Methodist Publishing is highlighting its Mental Health cards for under-12s and young people (“age-specific tips on how to stay mentally healthy”) and Geoffrey Baines’s lovely Slow Journeys in the Same Direction (above) – a beautifully designed adult colouring book that can be used for relaxation or as part of your daily devotions.
Self-care tips (please click on headings to download)
It’s more important than ever to be kind to ourselves, set aside time to look after ourselves, and stay connected with others. Here are some ideas that may be helpful:
Address Your Stress
A toolkit for tackling stress, including simple self-care tips, understanding your Stress Container, and a weekly wellbeing check-up.
Empower Half Hour
30 minute activities to boost your wellbeing during the workday. Why not schedule a virtual Empower Half Hour with colleagues to help you stay connected. Which ones can you make work over a video call? Are there any others you can try?
Public Health England – Guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19)
Government advice on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
City Mental Health Alliance – Supporting colleagues
Resources to help organisations support their colleagues, including how to manage remote teams in challenging times.
Every Mind Matters – Coronavirus and wellbeing
Includes ten tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus, and advice on maintaining your wellbeing while staying at home.
Mental Health At Work – Coronavirus and isolation: supporting yourself and your colleagues
Mental Health At Work has grouped together resources to support one another’s mental health through the outbreak and through working remotely.
Mental Health Foundation – Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
Some tips to help you, your friends and your family to look after your mental health, including how to avoid rumour and speculation which can fuel anxiety.
Mind – Coronavirus and your wellbeing
Information including practical advice for staying at home, taking care of your mental wellbeing, and finding support for benefits or housing.
Rethink Mental Illness – Covid-19 and mental illness
Online hub of practical support and information for people living with, or supporting people with mental illness.
Samaritans – If you’re worried about your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
Support and guidance for anyone worried about their mental health.
Student Minds – Coronavirus resources
Guidance for the university community on looking after your mental health, including ways you can support friends and family, guidance for those experiencing xenophobia and racism, and for those with ongoing mental health difficulties.
Supporting your Mental Health whilst working from home. Click: HERE
The Little Blue wellbeing Book has been produced by our colleagues in Chaplaincy working at the NEC Birmingham and can be downloaded by clicking: HERE
Cyber Aware is the UK government’s advice on how to stay secure online during coronavirus. Click HERE: HERE
Many of us are spending more time online. Keep yourself and your family secure by following our advice.
Stay home. Stay connected. Stay Cyber Aware.
19th May Update
If you’re struggling with money worries in relation to COVID-19, Martin Lewis from Money Saving Expert answers your questions in relation to travel insurance, holiday cancellation, sick pay rights and more.
Stress can sometimes manifest itself and become all-consuming, particularly when situations become out of your control, such as the COVID-19 health concern. To combat the feeling of overwhelm, here are five simple steps to de-stress.
Particularly if you struggle with anxiety or another mental health condition, media coverage of a global virus outbreak can be deeply concerning. But there are measures you can take to help protect your mental health, and help yourself and others, in the wake of a global health concern.
You can also visit Counselling Directory to find a local mental health professional who can offer telephone support and/or online therapy.
A simple “Quiet Day”for taking time out in May prepared by Rev Anthony Hick – for people to find stillness in one’s own garden Click: HERE
Some very helpful resources produced by Ministries – Vocation and Worship Team for Ministers can be found: HERE
Tips to keeping strong and positive can be found: HERE
The Joy Website offers a range of activities and online groups for people who are self isolating, including cooking lessons, book clubs, singalong etc. click: HERE
Bereavement and other resources within a school community. Click HERE & HERE
Prayer Spaces at Home. These prayer activities have been created for families to use at home. Click: HERE
Loss and Life for our Children and schools post pandemic: “When will they actually go back to school?” This is the cry from many parents, as we write and there is no answer. But that does not stop us thinking about what it will be like for each and every one of our children, at whatever age, stage or ability level on the day they walk through the classroom door. Click HERE
Love yourself Love your neighbour – a short video clip from the Connexional team worth looking at: HERE
A FREE phone service to hear prayers and news from the Methodist Church has been launched.
Listen to a prayer: 0808 281 2514
Listen to news: 0808 281 2478
Content is updated weekly on Thursday evening.
Is It Okay? A prayer Click: HERE for this short reflection written by Cathy Bird.
From the Church Of England – Daily Hope – call for free 0800 804 8044 for those without internet or feeling lonely or isolated. Click Here: HERE
Daily Hope, offers music, prayers and reflections as well as full worship services from the Church of England at the end of a telephone line. Callers will hear a special greeting from the Archbishop before being able to choose from a range of options, including hymns, prayers, reflections and advice on COVID-19.
A section called Hymn Line offers callers a small selection of hymns, updated daily. An option entitled ‘Hymns We Love’, provides a hymn and reflection and is based on an initiative by the Connections group
You may well have seen the latest phase of HM Government’s Stay Home, Save Lives Coronavirus campaign “Act like you’ve got it”, which has now launched across TV, radio, outdoor, social media and print.
The campaign, which communicates the Government’s advice on measures to manage the pandemic, is designed to drive an increased urgency and compliance around key behaviours and are particularly aimed at those who haven’t yet changed their habits. It can be used by a whole range of partners and organisations, including Local Resilience Fora.
There are now also Stay at Home resources specifically for The bank holiday, click:
Some helpful tips during COVID-19 (for on-line church and staying in community) Keeping in Touch guidelines
How can we protect our mental health?
Limit the news and be careful what you read
- Limit the amount of time you spend reading or watching things which aren’t making you feel better. Perhaps decide on a specific time to check in with the news
- There is a lot of misinformation swirling around – stay informed by sticking to trusted sources of information such as government and NHS websites
Have breaks from social media and mute things which are triggering
- Mute key words which might be triggering on Twitter and unfollow or mute accounts
- Mute WhatsApp groups and hide Facebook posts and feeds if you find them too overwhelming.
Wash your hands – but not excessively
- OCD Action has seen an increase in support requests from people whose fears have become focused on the coronavirus pandemic.
- For people with OCD and some types of anxiety, being constantly told to wash your hands can be especially difficult to hear.
Stay connected with people
- Increasing numbers will join those already in self-isolation so now might be a good time to make sure you have the right phone numbers and email addresses of the people you care about.
- “Agree regular check-in times and feel connected to the people around you,” says Weatherley.
- If you’re self-isolating, strike a balance between having a routine and making sure each day has some variety.
- It might end up actually feeling like quite a productive two weeks. You could work through your to-do list or read a book you’d been meaning to get to.
- With weeks and months of the coronavirus pandemic ahead, it is important to have down time. Mind recommends continuing to access nature and sunlight wherever possible. Do exercise, eat well and stay hydrated.
- AnxietyUK suggests practising the “Apple” technique to deal with anxiety and worries.
- Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
- Pause: Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Pause and breathe.
- Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
- Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
- Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.
- Think about your new daily routine: Life is changing for us all for a while. Whether you are staying at home or social distancing, you are likely to see some disruption to your normal routine.
Think about how you can adapt and create positive new routines – try to engage in useful activities (such as cleaning, cooking or exercise) or meaningful activities (such as reading or calling a friend). You might find it helpful to write a plan for your day or your week.
Do things you enjoy: When you are anxious, lonely or low you may do things that you usually enjoy less often, or not at all. Focussing on your favourite hobby, learning something new or simply taking time to relax indoors should give you some relief from anxious thoughts and feelings and can boost your mood.
If you can’t do the things you normally enjoy because you are staying at home, try to think about how you could adapt them, or try something new. There are lots of free tutorials and courses online and people are coming up with innovative online solutions like online pub quizzes and streamed live music concerts.
Set goals: Setting goals and achieving them gives a sense of control and purpose – think about things you want or need to do that you can still do at home. It could be watching a film, reading a book or learning something online.
Keep your mind active: Read, write, play games, do crossword puzzles, sudokus, jigsaws or drawing and painting. Find something that works for you.
Take time to relax and focus on the present: This can help with difficult emotions, worries about the future, and can improve wellbeing. Relaxation techniques can also help some people to deal with feelings of anxiety. For useful resources see Every Mind Matters and NHS’ mindfulness page.
If you can, once a day get outside, or bring nature in: Spending time in green spaces can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. If you can’t get outside much you can try to still get these positive effects by spending time with the windows open to let in fresh air, arranging space to sit and see a nice view (if possible) and get some natural sunlight, or get out into the garden if you can.
Remember that social distancing guidelines enable you to go outside to exercise once a day as long as you keep 2 metres apart from others who are not members of your household group.
Staying at home
Recent guidance is clear about the need for people to stay at home. If you are feeling anxious it might help to think about potential challenges and make a plan for them.
Supplies: Think about how you can get any supplies you need – either from a neighbour, family friends or a delivery service so you don’t worry about running out. Try to pick healthy food, especially as you might not get as much exercise as normal.
Financial concerns: You may be worried about work and money if you have to stay home – these issues can have a big impact on your mental health. For guidance on what your rights are at work, what benefits you are entitled and what further support is available please see the guidance for employees or advice from citizens advice or the National Debt line.
If you care for other people: You may be worried about how to ensure care for those who rely on you – either your dependants at home or others that you regularly visit. Let your local authority know if you provide care, or support someone you don’t live with. Further advice on creating a contingency plan is available from Carers UK
A Petrol Pumps hoax is circulating on social media. Whilst the risk is no greater than touching other surfaces, it is still a good idea to wear gloves when filling up or use a paper towel which should be binned straight away.
Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds. Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
The advice on do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean applies
As the Nation comes to terms with, and tries to juggle the demands and vagaries of our situation as we head for a national lock down for several months. Schools, and leisure establishments have now closed, and fear redundancy and uncertain debt grows. The ongoing fear of Covid-19 seems to be never ending as we try to deal with people’s heightened emotions.
Our Circuit Chaplain has posted a few Mindful Meditations that he has produced for the groups he supports in their work place: (please click on links to access) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJnqgVOdzVJyqDtp76o2-UQ
The news about the spread of COVID-19, commonly known as a coronavirus, and the response to it, has left communities and families wondering what to do next and how to prepare. First, take a deep breath. When considering how COVID-19 might have an impact our children, families and family units, and children’s ministries, we need to address concerns of children in age appropriate ways, address anxiety and fears of parents and guardians.
Here you’ll find blogs and resources written and provided by The Methodist Church Children, Youth and Families team to help you engage with young people during this time.
I am hoping to launch a weekly “Tea & Cake at the Manse” an open virtual gathering for people to join me and share a conversation whilst enjoying a cuppa and cake in ones own home via Zoom. Watch this space for more details.
A number of churches across the circuit are producing weekly Church notice sheets or Pastoral Letters and sending them out either by post or by email. Please check with your own local church or minister about how to receive these.
Worship & Prayer
Check the Circuit Website (www.bsgc.org.uk), or check recent posts on the blog for worship & prayer ideas. Light a candle of hope at 7pm and join with other Christians across the country as we light up our windows to bring light in to this situation.
Light a candle of hope
A Christian around the world are encouraged to say the Lord’s prayer daily at 11am.
A daily prayer for us to share in together at 12.00
This 10 minute daily act of prayer is based on resources from The Methodist Prayer Handbook. Check the Circuit Website for more details.
Circuit Worship Resources
Resources for families
(Click to download, or be taken to each one)
A very good flyer for children giving explanation the virus which has very good do not worry message.
The BRF Parenting For Faith Facebook page has some excellent videos and resources
A collection of good resources here
Talking to children & young people
Methodist Schools have forwarded a document produced by Wiltshire Council about looking after yourself with lots of helpful information for children: Looking After Yourself
In these strange times, we want to do what we can to support each other in creatively encouraging and equipping children, young people and families in our churches. The SW Gospel Partnership youth and children’s team have set up a WhatsApp group as a means of sharing ideas, asking questions and supporting each other. If you’d like to be a part of the group, please send your mobile number to Simon on firstname.lastname@example.org
Offering a Helping Hand
Many people are keen to offer support to our vulnerable neighbours who may be in self isolation or quarantined. Any activities need to continue to employ pragmatic Safeguarding procedures to protect vulnerable people and to protect volunteers who act in the name of the church or other organisations. The following guidelines should help to ensure good practice.
COVID19 – WORKING IN A SAFE MANNER – GUIDELINES FOR VOLUNTEERS
Do not establish any activity or plan that will place volunteers and those in need at any additional risk:
– Check with your insurers that you are able to undertake the proposed activity.
– Do not relax safeguarding good practice and standards
– Do not be tempted to cut corners in order to get something done
It is more likely that anyone who wishes to take advantage of a vulnerable person could in fact slip more easily through the net (financial impropriety/ scamming – debit card pin numbers/ contactless payments, Keys to house). Equally it is likely that someone with the best of intentions might do ‘the wrong thing’ and inadvertently cause harm (Wanting to bake or cook meals for frail, ill or vulnerable people is kind but potentially high risk). Vulnerable people are thus even more vulnerable now and require our highest standards of care.
Church leadership teams should complete an activity risk assessment before embarking on any scheme or activity, detailing their thought processes covering the above considerations and any other identified areas of risk.
The following guidance should be followed:
• Be led by what the person you are hoping to support wants, not by what you might
think they need. Be clear as to whether you are in a position to meet what they want
or not. Also please be aware that you might not know who is vulnerable at this time,
so make any service you offer as widely known as you can.
• When appointing people to receive enquiries or to initiate contact by phone in order to offer support; this could include offering practical support/ receiving requests for support or prayer and pastoral support. Ensure that:
– Volunteers are safely recruited (this type of role is not eligible for a DBS check but where possible use existing volunteers who are known) Is the volunteer known to the church, has a reference been taken – see safer recruitment guidelines.
– There is clear understanding of the purpose of the call/ contact.
– identifying yourself (working on behalf of the church)
– have a system of recording encounters and – that each volunteer has a person to report to for accountability purposes.
– Volunteers should not provide their personal information home addresses etc.
Delivering Food/ essential items:
• Avoid all physical contact with anyone who is on on their own.
• All deliveries will be left on the doorstep. If people open the door when you are delivering the food/goods, you must kindly ask them to close the door until you have moved a safe distance away from them. Volunteers need to visually check that supplies have been taken into the house.
• In an ideal world disposable gloves should be worn between one door and the next but this is hardly practical in the current situation. Therefore, every effort should be made not to use a bare hand to knock on a door or to ring the doorbell. It would be better to use your elbow or a suitable inanimate object e.g. umbrella handle.
• If you use disposable gloves, they should be disposed of safely after one use. Carry a plastic bag in which to deposit any used gloves.
• Remember, some people may not hear someone knocking on the door. Please persevere.
Call the coordinator if necessary. If your coordinator is not available, call another coordinator. Don’t leave without obtaining a reply.
Handling the money of vulnerable adults is considered to be a ‘Regulated Activity’
Volunteers doing so are required to have an Enhanced DBS check with check of the Barred List for the Adult workforce (Speak to your Safeguarding Officer to discuss ways to implement pragmatic and timely DBS checks if more are needed).
– Records of visits/ service provision should be logged and reported to the activity leader. This provides transparency and accountability that protects the volunteer from accusations of theft or abuse, but also may be necessary to inform Public Health England of possible contact and transmission opportunities if a volunteer is subsequently diagnosed with the virus.
– Local practice needs to be established of how isolated people are going to pay for any shopping/ goods requested/ fetched by volunteers. We need to protect volunteers from being left out of pocket if payment is not forthcoming from the service user.
– Ensure volunteers handling money are recording what money they receive from vulnerable people and what change (if cash is given) that they have returned. Receipts should be issued and copies kept by the volunteer and/or the scheme coordinator.
– Do not offer to take a vulnerable persons bank card it is obviously too risky as it presents a significant risk of theft or accusation of such.
– Cash presents an infection transmission route and isolated people may soon run out of cash to give out.
– Personal cheques present the risk of bouncing.
• Cash transactions should be made either by bank transfer or using ready cash, the preferred method being a bank transfer.
• If cash is used, plastic bank bags should be used to return any change. The change can be posted via the letterbox on delivery.
• Document the cash handling process clearly, ensure that receipts for purchased goods are provided. Report any dispute or disagreement about money/change of shop or goods immediately to your coordinator. In addition, volunteers should refuse any personal gift offered to them by anyone they shop for.
• If you are asked to undertake any additional tasks, please contact your coordinator before agreeing.
• Volunteers should contact their coordinator immediately if they feel unwell and plan to self isolate because they are showing Covid 19 symptoms, or if they have to self isolate for any other reason, e.g. because a family member is ill.
Personal Protective Equipment
• Disposable gloves, if available
• Hand `Sanitiser’ or wet wipes, if available.
• Make sure you have mobile phone numbers for volunteers
Oh…and I came across this. This week the Chino Hills High School Chamber Singers Concert was cancelled due to Covid19 – but they didn’t let that stop them… Choir