April 2018 - Nelumbo Consultancy

Mental health awareness

Suffering in silence is not the only way…

Our NHS is extremely efficient in treating the population’s physical health. This is evidenced by the wide range of treatment and medication available for the large number of recognisable symptoms.

Not so with mental illness. It is much harder to recognise or understand which is why 2 out 3 people with a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety disorder, suffer in silence. Some may say that the reason for the lack of open treatment for mental illness is due to the fact that it affects everyone individually and in different ways. Some may not even be aware that they have a problem with mental illness or just be in poor mental health. Lack of motivation and stress in carrying out simple daily tasks can be an indicator of an underlying problem. Those who are aware may seek treatment but it may not be available to them. Many others just choose to suffer the pain in silence due to the lack of knowledge and awareness friends and family have of mental health issues.

There is no health, without mental health; so, why are so many people afraid of seeking treatment? This may be due to not wishing to be exposed; or to the fear of trying to make friends and family understand; or just to a lack of availability of treatment in certain regions. Knowledge about mental health issues needs to be spread more widely and awareness increased so that when the people closest to the individual are needed the most, the individual is not met with ignorant responses because of a lack of understanding. It’s hard to relate to and comprehend illnesses that are not visible such as a broken arm or a wound. Society needs to be more open-minded in recognising when people are continually fighting within their own minds every single day. Symptoms of mental illness and poor mental health are not very clear but they do have similar outcomes to those of serious physical illness. The outcomes may be constant fatigue; no motivation; no desire to improve one’s lot and live life to the full which is why it’s so important for people that are suffering with poor mental health to speak up and obtain treatment.

The treatment for mental illness isn’t as simple as prescribing medication or giving an injection as it is with some physical illnesses. Each individual is affected differently as this depends largely on genes, motivation, the will to bounce back and, above all, receiving quality treatment. This could possibly include therapy or coping mechanisms such as breathing techniques for illnesses such as anxiety disorders. However, receiving treatment will allow the victims of poor mental health to improve and live their lives to their full potential without holding themselves back. It will relieve the endless fighting within their own minds, the exhaustion and the agony and will enable them to live happily and contented.

Poor mental health is just as serious as a physical illness and should be given the same amount of attention and treatment. Hundreds of people around us are suffering in silence and we need to help them. We need to observe subtle hints such as social withdrawal, lack of communication, constant confusion and fatigue. Above all, we need to understand that people who seem to be completely normal may be fighting this battle every day. This means that we should be more sensitive and sympathetic when it comes to talking about mental health issues in our society.

Is aggression driven by nature or nurture?

The dispute between nature and nurture is a long-standing one. An aspect of this would be whether aggression is driven by our biological make-up or by the way society has shaped us. Aggression is an attractive trait to some extent, according to some psychologists, as it suggests that an individual is powerful and protective. However, abnormal aggression can lead to personality disorders and other illnesses that may have serious consequences to the individual and to society. The question is whether abnormal anger is due to our genetics or if it is due to the way we are brought up and what we experience.

In support of nature, biological psychologists have done a lot of research into the human brain revealing parts such as the pre-frontal cortex and the limbic system which are scientifically proven to be involved in the process of anger. The pre-frontal cortex is involved with emotions and has high levels of synapses with neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. It regulates behaviour and governs social interaction. Research has been done where psychologists have taken many brain-damage case studies and found that when the pre-frontal cortex is damaged, the individual can become very impulsive, impatient and aggressive which clearly shows that abnormal anger is somewhat influenced by the pre-frontal cortex. The limbic system is involved in self-preservation and the ‘fight or flight’ response. It consists of the amygdala which is the centre of emotions and motivation. It combines information from our external senses and internal feelings and provides our instinctive reaction to a situation. Psychologist Downer (1961), has carried out many experiments to show the involvement of the amygdala in anger. One of his most famous studies was carried out on monkeys where he found a significant increase in aggression and violence when the amygdala was stimulated with an electrical current and a significant reduction in fear and aggression when the amygdala was removed making the monkeys much more friendly. This study proves that aggression is stimulated by our biological make-up and shows how our brain is structured but, is it the only thing that influences aggressive behaviour?

In support of nurture, many psychologists argue that anger issues surface by the way we are influenced by the environment, the way we are brought up and the way we have experienced certain events in our lives. This includes role models and socialisers. Our role models and socialisers, such as our parents, heavily influence what we become as a person. For example, violent and aggressive role models and parents would result in the individual admiring violence and aggression and therefore copying the actions provided by their role models. This is proven by the social-learning theory. The influence that our role models have on us drastically changes who we are as a person. The same concept applies to media as well. For example, admirers of violent characters that are shown as charismatic or heroic in movies and TV shows may be influenced to emulate their hero and so become aggressive. Other experiences such as violent video games may lead a person to be more aggressive too. This is scientifically proven by a study that found gamers who play violent games show a lower reaction to negative images compared to a control group. This suggests that individuals that are heavily influenced by violent games may think of aggressive acts as normal behaviour and are more inclined to carry them out. These experiences and lifestyles shape a human being and over time may permanently alter an individual’s brain and mindset which consequently leads to illness and personality disorders.

There are many arguments for and against the fact that aggression is influenced by nature or nurture with case studies and research to back them up. However, the majority of common psychological opinion agrees that aggression is influenced by our biological structure as much as it is influenced by our social surroundings and experiences.

Do you feel stuck in a rut and bored with your job, how can you change this

Without any fresh challenges, remaining in the same job for a long time can leave you feeling demotivated and unable to muster the same level of energy and drive that you had on your first day at work. It can be easy to get ‘stuck in a rut’ when you are in a role which sits well within your comfort zone, pays well and provides a good group of colleagues to work with. Tell-tale signs that you may be suffering from this could include a lack of interest and energy, feeling stressed, fatigue, low mood or a sense that you are unfulfilled.

If you become aware of any of these symptoms and are ready to make a change, here are some steps which can help you ‘get out of the rut’.

How to Get Out of the Rut

At first this might seem a daunting task, but it is good to remember that taking small steps can bring a massive change leading you to live the life as you deserve.
Identifying and recognising the reasons why you got into the rut and/or what keeps you there is important in order to find practical ways forward. For example, if you are paralysed by fear of failure, you could make a list of your past successes and consider these in your current context.
Accept your present position, try to be mindful so that you can be more focused on your present stress. If you will accept and engage with this situation, rather than avoiding it, you will be better able to work towards a solution.

Set realistic goals which are aligned with your talents and move forward.

Accept the challenge and break out of your comfort zone which will give you courage to do new things in life.

An exercise programme including short walks, breathing exercises and a change in routine will also help to reduce your feelings of boredom.

You can feel proud and appreciate yourself if you can see how much experience you have working in your field; that will boost your self-confidence.

If you can’t change your work, try to do the same work in different way or look on your project from a different angle. You could pretend that you are looking from the point of view of a creative director, designer, sports person or anyone you like; this will add a different perspective and reduce your boredom.

Common Relationship Problems: How Therapy Can Help

Relationships – whether with family, friends, or partners – will have had a marked impact on our sense of self and how we relate to others. They can provide us with security, affection, excitement and hope, but our closest relationships are often the playground – or battleground – upon which our deepest vulnerabilities, our most damaging behaviours, and our unresolved past hurt can be revealed.

7 Top Tips to Curb Compulsive Spending

If you’ve been reading the entertainment news, you may have seen what Johnny Depp has been up to lately. No, not releasing the 704th installation of Pirates of the Caribbean – the other thing. The huge, unchecked spending resulting in millions of dollars worth of debt thing.

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