Focus on psychosis

DIYMH

Focus on psychosis Summer 2016

The stigma associated with psychosis means that the many people who are affected by psychosis can find it difficult to talk about. This summer we want to help change that.

We want more people to learn about psychosis and to be aware of the possible early signs. The earlier someone gets help, the less severe the long-term impact on their life is likely to be. The more informed we are, the better we can all look out for one another, spot the signs and get help sooner.

There are lots of things that we can all do to look after our mental health and many of our suggestions can also be helpful in recovery from psychosis, staying healthy and reducing risk of further episodes.

Find out what happened at the brilliant, stigma-busting Reality Check Festival in July 2016, organised by AWP's early intervention teams to share some positivity about mental health in a festival atmosphere.

Need more inspiration for ways to look after your own mental wellbeing? Getting outdoors and getting active is a great place to start, so why not try geocaching. It's basically a huge treasure hunt with geocachers hunting for hidden containers using specific GPS co-ordinates and occasional extra clues.

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Our DIYMH caches are dotted around the Trust area encouraging people to look after their mental health by getting active.

Take control of psychosis: maintaining good mental health

If you employ someone who experiences psychosis you can play an important role. Download our psychosis tips for employers and watch our film: psychosis: how employers can help

If you experience psychosis and are referred into services they will work with you to develop an individualised plan around how to cope, reaching a shared understanding of the experiences and learn what helps and what doesn't help.

Joining a local support group can be helpful. The Hearing Voices Network, Bipolar UK, Mind and Rethink have good websites with links to local resources, some of which run local groups.

There are lots of things that we can all do to look after our mental health and many of these are helpful in recovery from psychosis, staying healthy and reducing risk of further episodes.

Geocaching
This summer we are promoting geocaching as a fun way to get active in the fresh air. AWP staff have been out hiding geocaches: could you be the first to find all our DIYMH caches? It's easy to get started - register for free, download a free geocaching app to your phone, get out and get caching! Our cache names all begin with 'DIYMH' and are hidden in:

  • Iron Acton in South Gloucestershire
  • Horfield Common in Bristol
  • Chippenham in Wiltshire
  • Langley Burrell in Wiltshire

Therapeutic activities
Other things that some people find helpful are:

  • Gardening. The combination of working outdoors in fresh air and amongst nature, physical exercise, the slow pace of growing things, the absorbing nature of gardening tasks and the satisfaction in creating something positive all combine to make gardening an excellent therapeutic activity. It reduces stress levels and lifts mood. Gardening at an allotment site, at a horticulture project or as part of a volunteer team at a large garden can help you develop social contact and make new friends.

  • Yoga. You can take part in yoga at any level from simple breathing techniques to a strenuous physical workout. For some people it is a spiritual practice, for others it is purely physical. Either way, it has been shown to relax us and have a positive impact on our mental health.

  • Meditation. This can be part of yoga or done on its own and can be very short - just 30 seconds or a minute - or a long as several hours. It's up to you. Look for a local meditation class or try some of the many meditation techniques available online.

  • Mindfulness. This has similarities with some meditation and yoga techniques. There are many mindfulness groups, books and websites and exercises can be as simple as focusing on breathing or looking at the sky for a few seconds, colouring, or repeating a particular phrase to yourself.

  • Walking. Getting out into the woods or onto the hills can help you to forget, for a short time as least, all of life's stresses.

  • Singing. Singing is a great way to release pent up frustration and lift mood. It is a physical activity that has a powerful emotional effect and psychological benefit. Sing your heart out in the shower, in the car or for an added social benefit, join a community choir. They come in all shapes and sizes from traditional church choirs and classical choral societies to barber shop groups, gospel and rock choirs. And it doesn't matter how well or badly you think you can sing.

  • Cooking. What we eat can have a significant impact on our mental as well as our physical health. For example it is now known that too much sugar can trigger anxiety - and severe anxiety can be a trigger for psychosis. So how about taking up cooking to help you focus on eating healthy, delicious and satisfying food. The process of preparing, cooking and presenting food can be absorbing and therapeutic in itself and to get you started you could do a one-off course or join a regular class.

  • Crafting. Making things can be therapeutic, is immensely satisfying and can be good for our self-esteem. You could take up knitting, sewing, paper crafts or sketching as a hobby. Or as a more radical suggestion, if you are experiencing work-related stress and anxiety in your current job and are looking for a change, how about a traditional craft - dry stone walling, hedge-laying, lime-plastering, coppicing or green woodworking - as a career change?

This is not an exhaustive list and services will try to support people into activities that reinforce or build upon current/new areas interest.

Resources

Back to Life, Back to Normality: Cognitive Therapy, Recovery and Psychosis by Douglas Turkington et al. (Cambridge University Press, 2009) This is a self-help guide for people who have psychotic symptoms and their carers. It helps readers use cognitive therapy techniques to control their symptoms and delay or prevent becoming unwell again.

Young Minds

Rethink 

Early psychosis website from Canada 

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