Have you experienced any difficulties with mental health or wished for more happiness in your life? Maybe you’ve witnessed somebody you care about go through this. It’s not easy to go through this and you may be wondering why more people seem to be affected by this. Many people are talking about the growing mental health crisis.
In this blog, I want to introduce myself and why I felt compelled to do something about this. I’ll also share an introduction to the book I’ve written in response to this crisis. There’s more to be done though so I’m also launching a campaign focused on prevention of mental health and to raise funds for those in need. I’ll also be writing a regular blog dedicated to sharing ways to bring about more peace and happiness into your life as well as preventing and overcoming mental health difficulties. Please do sign up and let anybody else know who might be interested.
So why did I write a book?
Over the past 13 years, I’ve worked at the heart of mental health as a student Counsellor at a UK University. I’ve been privileged to work with many different people of all ages, backgrounds, countries and reasons for seeking counselling. It’s a wonderful job seeing the transformation in most cases from crisis or difficulty into a more confident and positive outlook for the future.
At the same time, I’ve watched with a growing concern the increasing waiting lists as more and more people come for counselling. Even though there’s been more resources, the numbers have continued to grow. It’s not just the numbers but also the complexity and severity of issues that’s increased. This has led to increasing pressure on the NHS and mental health support services all over. This is not just in the UK either – these trends are global.
The media is full of articles about the crisis of mental health. There’s an earlier onset with younger children affected, increasing levels of risk and a lack of support to meet this demand. This is affecting people of all ages although there is a particular increase in young people. Some statistics:
- In the UK, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year. (Mind)
- Undergraduates reporting mental health concerns has risen fivefold (Public policy research)
- 8% of 5-19-year-olds have at least one mental health disorder going up to 16.9% of 17-19-year-olds (NHS report)
- 70% of young people affected don’t receive appropriate support (Counselling Directory)
(Full references available in the introductory chapter of my book)
These statistics may well be underreported as not everybody comes forward for help.
So I decided I wanted to do something about this. I held back for a while imagining it too big for me or that somebody else was already doing it. Then I realised it would require lots of people to act in order to make a difference. I considered many ideas and meditated on my options and started to write a few thoughts down. Each day I wrote a bit more and before long, I realised I was writing a book. The shock of this made me stop for a few days as I never wanted to write a book. I didn’t intend to be a writer and had no desire to put myself in the limelight. I checked if somebody else had already written the book but couldn’t find anything. So I had to have a word with myself and keep going. I didn’t seem to have a choice anyway as I couldn’t stop the flow of words.
A year or so into the writing, I attended a training day run by one of my colleagues. The theme was body image and it was a fascinating day exploring our own relationship with our bodies as well as understanding about how body issues and shame affect people and what can help address this. There was one point in the day that I will never forget. I feel upset to just even think about it. We heard about a trend in both the UK and America where teenagers are posting images of themselves online to ask if they are attractive. The back story is that many people feel confused by parents telling them they are attractive in contrast to any cruel comments they may receive at school.
Typically, there were a huge number of replies, many from strangers. Most responses were kind and reassuring but some were cruel and potentially damaging particularly to a vulnerable teenager. Who wants to go through that or witness their friend, son, daughter or relative go through that? The impact of this stayed with me for days and further ignited my passion to keep going. I realised the importance of building self-esteem and a sense of identity from healthy reliable sources rather than external comments or likes on social media.
So here is the book – Being Human – the path to self-acceptance, resilience and happiness.
The book is targeted at 16-30-year-olds but is equally relevant to adults of all ages who want to feel more happy and resilient in life. It may also be applicable to mature teenagers of a younger age.
The book blends my experience of counselling with my knowledge of coaching and leadership (which I gained from working in the corporate sector prior to my counselling training) alongside my 25 year quest to find peace and happiness from a breadth and depth of sources. I bring influences from psychosynthesis counselling (my training), CBT, mindfulness, NLP, body and trauma work alongside a mind, body, spirit approach. All of this is brought in a language intending to appeal to any belief system. Everyone has their own path and this book is respectful of that. My aim in bringing a blended approach is to bring a greater number of solutions to help with today’s challenges. I’ve been running this blended approach successfully in my private workshops and groups for a number of years.
My hope is that reading the book will help people to prevent needing support with mental health difficulties in the first place. It will also help those with mild to moderate difficulties as a substitute for professional help or whilst waiting for support. If anyone is affected severely, over a long period or at risk of harm in any way, please do continue to seek professional support. The book may support alongside the process but is not a substitute.
What’s in the book?
The book is in 3 parts: Part 1 includes the most common themes that occur in counselling sessions. These typically provide reassurance and understanding as well as helping people to feel more positive about themselves and the future. My hope is by sharing them they can provide reassurance to a broader audience.
Part 2 is dedicated to the most common mental health difficulties such as depression and low mood, anxiety, anger, building self-esteem and overcoming relationship difficulties. It’s packed with examples and practical solutions to help address and prevent further difficulty. Whilst there are other issues affecting people today such as addictions and self-harm that I haven’t dedicated a chapter to, working with this book can help indirectly with a broader range of mental health issues than those covered as I’m focusing on the whole person not just symptoms. There is also an in-depth list of resources at the back of the book which can offer further support and information for specific issues.
Part 3 focuses on building a new approach towards happiness and self-empowerment. Building resilience, self-acceptance, self-love and a stronger sense of self to help you feel happier and more peace in your life.
Alongside the book, I have recorded 12 guided meditations which complement the material in this book and help to support the work at a greater depth. These are all recorded on YouTube and can be accessed by links in the book. Try one today by pasting this link into your browser:
This is one of my most popular meditations from the groups I’ve been running for many years. It helps to promote relaxation and is also suitable for children.
How is this book different?
- Written from the heart with a positive, compassionate and empowering message.
- Written by an author who works at the heart of mental health blending counselling and coaching information with a holistic approach, in a language that will appeal to all belief systems. Thereby offering a broader range of solutions to today’s problems.
- Focused on prevention as well as helping to alleviate symptoms. A longer term approach that goes to the root of mental health difficulties as well as addressing symptoms. The book supports the reader on a journey towards love and acceptance of self as well as offering healthy coping strategies to deal with the inevitable difficulties of life.
- Offers support for a broader range of mental health difficulties than most books on the market which are often dedicated to one main issue.
- Access to 12 meditations which further support the material in the book.
Why an emphasis on prevention?
When people are having difficulty with mental health, it’s natural to want to fix it and make it go away. Completely understandable – who wouldn’t want to do this? And yet there is no magic pill to eradicate your symptoms. I strongly believe that in order to address and prevent mental health difficulties, it’s important to work towards self-acceptance and self-love. When we try to push something away, it can make it worse or create another difficulty. Conversely acceptance even though it may be contrary to your instincts, is more effective in the long run.
By the way the book isn’t perfect, a one size fits all or the answer to all of life’s challenges. It’s titled being human for a reason. I believe we spend too much time trying to be perfect, getting it right, striving to do more, trying to fit in, wishing to be somebody else, pleasing others, holding ourselves back. We all do one or more of these at the expense of our own happiness. This book helps you to explore more fully beyond these strategies to a deeper sense of happiness. Being more comfortable with who you are and in touch with your own internal barometer that can guide you to happiness. Not everybody is ready to do this fully but the book offers steps and options to do this at your own pace and to be more conscious of your choices.
It’s not about immunising you from ever experiencing difficulty or facing challenging emotions. That’s not possible and we waste a lot of energy and time in doing so. A better strategy is to expect difficulty from time to time, know it’s normal for everyone and to work through it knowing it’s not permanent and the experience has something helpful to impart or at the very least makes you stronger. Find out more in the book.
What about the campaign?
As I came to the end of the process with getting the book published, it became much clearer to me that this is more than a book. That I needed to launch a campaign with 2 aspects. Firstly to raise awareness that working on yourself to prevent mental health difficulties from occurring in the first place would save a lot of emotional difficulty and angst, especially if you have to wait a long time to get support. Equally, if you have a long wait and haven’t had the benefit of working on yourself beforehand, realising that you can get alternative support. This doesn’t have to be through my book necessarily as there are lots of things out there that you may resonate more with.
The second part of my campaign is to raise funds for those people who either have a long wait for professional support but need support sooner or for those who can’t financially afford support. Initially, I am going to be doing this myself through cake sales and sponsored events but eventually hope to make this something bigger as it unfolds. I will be looking for the most appropriate mental health charity to work with to turn the funds into the most effective solution.
The challenge for me, especially as a self-published author is how to get the word out there about this book and campaign to the people who might benefit from it. If you know of anyone who might benefit, please do direct them to this blog or my website. Thank you so much for your help.
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Copyright (c) 2019 Natalie Read * All Rights Reserved * You may copy and distribute this material as long as you do not alter it in any way, the content remains complete and you include this copyright notice.