The fluidity of mental health

We often talk about the fluidity of mental health when we deliver workshops and training. We all have mental health and it is not a static – just like our physical health, it changes over time. We want to empower those within our community to find ways to live with optimal mental health – which looks different for everyone – and it is important to understand that this can be with or without a diagnosed mental health condition.

Recovery isn’t necessarily about an absence of symptoms or no longer having a diagnosis – it’s not about a ‘cure’. Instead, it’s about having the tools to manage mental health challenges in healthy ways.

Many of our therapeutic programmes work around this concept of recovery, incorporating activities and support structures that enable us to lead full and fulfilling lives. Identifying what keeps you well starts with building an awareness of what can make you unwell, looking at what has helped you in the past and being open to new avenues of support. This is very individual and may well be a combination of talking therapies, medication, self-care and support groups.

Finding something that works for you and enables you to focus on the here and now, connecting with the world around you, is a hugely important step on the journey to optimising your mental wellbeing.

In a recent article we heard from Paul Sanders who runs our ‘My Mind’s Eye’ mindful photography group, who shared the therapeutic benefit connecting with nature has had for his own recovery.

Working in a highly pressurised environment was a contributing factor to Paul’s poor mental health but Paul says that “since changing my role to one where I am largely in the open air appreciating the beauty and imperfections in nature, I can honestly say that bringing my love of photography in nature has been a huge aid in my recovery”.

Our second photography course has just started, with spaces still available. The course is open to any adult living or working in West Kent who feels reconnecting with the world through photography would benefit their mental health. It runs online on Tuesdays 10am-12noon, please get in touch with our community team for more details at community@westkentmind.org.uk.

Connection with others is crucial to maintaining good mental health and for recovery from mental ill-health. We continue to run our Solace Café twice weekly (currently online) to support anyone in, or approaching, a mental health crisis.

The café provides a safe and non-judgemental space for people to meet others with similar experiences and to access to mental health support and advice from peers and professionals.

This is a vital service for our community and a client has kindly shared his heartfelt experience of the service with us: “I was diagnosed with a mental health condition a few years ago. The diagnosis left me scared and confused as to what it meant for me and my life? Solace has been THE most effective support for me in coming to terms with my condition. When crisis came this year, they were there”. To access this service, please email solacecafe@westkentmind.org.uk.

Increasing awareness around our own mental health is a journey and one that we are here to support you with. We offer a wide range of support services and groups to ensure there is something for everyone. It is never too early to reach out for support and finding what works for you, whether you are starting to experience signs and symptoms of poor mental health or are living with a diagnosed illness.

We are all somewhere on the mental health continuum and it can change at any time, so developing awareness of our own mental health, identifying protective factors and practicing effective self-care must be our priority.

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