We are West Kent Mind, your local mental health charity, and in this, our first column for Sevenoaks Sports, we would like introduce you to the work that we do. Going forward we will be sharing our tips and insights on all things mental health and well-being related.
For those readers unfamiliar with our work, West Kent Mind is one of 135 local Mind associates affiliated to the national mental health charity Mind. We are an independent self-funding charity and work hard tirelessly to generate income to directly benefit our local community.
Our mission is to work with, and on behalf of, people with mental health problems, ensuring their fair and equal treatment and to promote better mental health for all. With statistics still showing that 1 in 6 adults at any one time and the equivalent of 3 children in every class will have a mental health problem and with suicide being the leading cause of death for men aged under 50, the need for our services is at an all-time high.
Our community services include therapeutic and social groups, themed groups (e.g. art, music, sport), coping with life courses, one to one counselling, mum’s support with crèche, bereavement and loss counselling; help with money management; a befriending service, help for people who hoard, an evening Crisis Café and much more. Skilled and experienced staff and volunteers offer practical, emotional and social support to meet individual needs and preferences.
Within schools we have adopted a whole-school approach to training staff, pupils and parents in mental health awareness. Training focuses on early intervention and imparts the skills and confidence to support children and young people experiencing mental health problems.
To date we have delivered training in 140 local schools, benefiting 6000 students and 1250 teachers. We also work closely with local organisations, providing tailored training programmes to create mentally healthy workplaces – products include Mental Health First Aid certified courses (subsidised), Mentoring and Support for First Aiders, Building Business Resilience, Recognizing and Coping with Stress, Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Mental Health Awareness and Wellbeing Skills Workshops.
We work to support the mental health of everyone within our community, with a goal of achieving parity of esteem between mental and physical health. Over the coming months, we will talk about many aspects of well-being and mental health, some connected with sport and physical activity.
We are very grateful for the opportunity to share our thoughts with readers who are obviously passionate about exercise, sport and physical health and we welcome the chance to help you look after your mental and emotional well-being to the same degree.
Our programmes and training all draw on “The six ways to Wellbeing” (www.wheelofwellbeing.org). Designed by South London Maudsley and NHS Foundation Trust, these are simple, evidence based ways to improve our moods, reduce the risk of depression, strengthen relationships, keep us healthy and even increase life expectancy.
Connect – There is strong evidence that indicates that feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world.
It’s clear that social relationships are critical for promoting wellbeing and protecting our mental health and resilience. With this in mind, try to do something different today and make a new connection.
Be active – we know you guys are active and are likely aware that regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. Exercise is essential for slowing age-related cognitive decline and for promoting well-being. But it doesn’t need to be particularly intense for you to feel good – slower-paced activities, such as walking, can have the benefit of encouraging social interactions as well providing some level of exercise.
Take notice – Reminding yourself to ‘take notice’ can strengthen and broaden awareness. Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances your well-being and savouring ‘the moment’ can help to reaffirm your life priorities. Heightened awareness also enhances your self-understanding and allows you to make positive choices based on your own values and motivations.
Learn – Continued learning through life enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction and a more active life. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the opportunity to engage in work or educational activities particularly helps to lift older people out of depression. The practice of setting goals, which is related to adult learning in particular, has been strongly associated with higher levels of wellbeing. Why not learn something new today?
Give – Participation in social and community life has attracted a lot of attention in the field of wellbeing research. Individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy. Research into actions for promoting happiness has shown that committing an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing.
Care for the Planet – look after your community and the world. Make small changes to your life that will reduce your energy use, recycle more, leave the car at home, use low energy light bulbs, small steps to a greener life can make a difference.
Upcoming Events with West Kent Mind: Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Adult 2 Day course (Certified) – £155
• 29 & 31 July: Sevenoaks
• 14-15 August: Tunbridge Wells
• 22-23 August: Sevenoaks
• 30 September & 2 October: Sevenoaks
This course is for any adult (16+) who wishes to learn more about mental health issues; people who, on a personal level, are supporting those with mental health needs; people who, in the course of their work, are supporting those with mental health needs; or anybody working in the field of mental health.
The course will teach you to:
• spot the early signs of a mental health problem
• help prevent someone from hurting themselves or others
• feel confident helping someone experiencing a problem
• provide help on a first aid basis
• help stop a mental illness from getting worse
• guide someone towards the right support
• help someone recover faster
• reduce the stigma of mental health problems
For more information visit westkentmind.org.uk/training/mhfa
Until next month, take care of yourselves and try out some of the tips above! For more information on West Kent Mind services, please visit