Does Mental Health Stigma Stop People Seeking Help?

A little while back marked the annual 'Time To Talk Day' which is part of the 'Time To Change' campaign to end mental health discrimination. The campaign encourages people to talk about mental health as a way of breaking down the barriers and stigma around the subject.

And, of course, showing support to others and creating a space where you can talk about and express feelings is a good thing. In my experience, many people still do not understand things like anxiety and depression unless or until they experience it for themselves. Being open, supportive and showing others that they matter is always important. If someone close to you wants to talk then be there for them; if someone close to you doesn't want to talk then be there for them.

There's little doubt that there is still much room for improvement in improving education, support and help for people struggling with mental health problems. Talking about mental health is good yet much more needs to be done for people to understand and feel able to actively seek the help they need (which is perhaps where many well-meaning 'just talking about it' groups come unstuck).

We could probably also have a long conversation about whether talking about 'stigma' inadvertently supports its existence. Some might argue that talking about it and highlighting it just re-enforces it because it keeps it in existence (if you follow me...if you keep telling people there is stigma and re-enforcing the idea in people's minds then it will always exist won't it?). Far better, in my opinion, to talk about what we do want - good mental health and appropriate support and recognition - and be the change we want to see.

Anyway, I could digress but here today I'm more interested in looking at whether mental health related stigma does in fact deter or stop people from seeking help.

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Hypnosis - How Does It Work & What Are The Benefits? My Latest Good Zing Article:

"From managing anxiety to boosting confidence, a hypnotherapist breaks down how hypnosis works and how it can help you break bad habits." So begins my latest article for the fantastic Good Zing website. 

And as they write on their webiste, 'Good Zing is the best resource for you to find (*and share) all of the best wellbeing and self-care tips for specific issues – from dealing with everyday common physical ailments to emotional and mental health issues.'

My latest article is all about my take on what hypnosis is, how it can help you and with a bit about how hypnosis can help you with your anxiety (something I've also written about for their website in these earlier articles: Can Hypnotherapy Really Help Anxiety? and 5 Simple Ways To Shut Down Your Anxiety)

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How NLP can help you to overcome anxiety and depression (including what NLP is and how it can help):

When I first sought help to overcome my own anxiety, I was naturally attracted to the field of NLP, or to give it its full name, 'Neuro-Lingusitic Programming.' It seemed to me to be the way to understand how our brains work and to make changes. 

Having experienced NLP with hypnosis with the hypnotherapist I saw to help me take back control over my thoughts and feelings, I was so inspired that I went on to learn all about it and now incorporate it in my sessions to help others to now manage their anxiety. 

So I was naturally curious and interested when I came across an Evening Standard article published recently by Samuel Fishwick called 'How NLP can help you to overcome anxiety and depression.' As he writes, 'Neuro-linguistic programming can translate anxiety into new ways of thinking'. Which is certainly true in my own experience of helping people with their anxiety and depression.

These days I rarely specifically refer to NLP with clients unless they know something about it already or ask about it specifically. Rather than point to NLP or another method or approach it works well to simply focus on what someone is currently thinking, feeling and doing and what they would rather be experiencing with particular people, places, times, situations and circumstances.

A while back I decided to further my knowledge of how to help people and completed another very thorough and comprehensive hypnotherapy diploma. Part of that course asked me to write about what NLP is and how certain techniques and ideas from NLP can be applied in therapy. So for all of you out there who want to know more about what NLP is, where it came from and how it can help you to overcome anxiety, depression and more, I've included a large part of my answer below.

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Top 10 Blogs of 2018 from Dan Regan Hypnotherapy:

As another year starts to draw to a close I always like to take a quick look back on some of the highlights and successes over the last 12 months.

This year I've once again been able to help many scores of people to overcome their anxiety, worry and fear, as well as making many, many other positive changes. You can read the feedback of some of my clients this year in the What People Say section of this website. I've also been able to revamp my hypnosis download shop and expand the number of titles and I've received a ton of good feedback from people benefitting from these audios.

And over the course of the year I've written over eighty articles about subjects such as improving your mental health, extinguishing anxiety and ways to interrupt negative thinking and overthinking. Thank you for reading them!

In this article I've sifted through the stats and have the top ten most read blogs of 2018 for you to read and enjoy (for those of us old enough to remember the Top of the Pops chart countdown, I can't help but have the music they used in my head as I write this!).  

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Scrooge, the Ghost of Christmas Future and Increasing Motivation:

The Christmas countdown is in full swing in the Regan household as the big day continues to rush towards us all. The advert calendars are into single figures, Santa has been seen during his pre-Christmas tour and I've managed to wrap a whole load of presents a whole week early (wrapping has got to be THE dullest thing ever!). 

Yesterday the kids and I decided to check whether my wife was on the good list (and so would get lots of nice presents), or the naughty list (which would save me a lot of money!). We wrapped two presents and labelled them A and B and she had to choose one of them without touching either. After much deliberation she went for present A, which was a bag of potatoes and means she has failed to make Santa's good list this year!! 

Speaking of getting into the Christmas spirit, the kids have been endlessly practicing their Christmas songs ready for their school concert and I've just finished reading 'A Christmas Carol' after realising to my shame that I've never actually read the book before and have up until now only seen the film versions.

And it's that story of Scrooge and his redemption that has inspired my latest hypnotherapy vlog which you can watch below.

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Dickens, Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Future:

Shops have started playing Christmas songs and the kids have started opening their advent calendars and that can only mean one thing: that we are on the ever-escalating countdown to Christmas.

This past weekend I took the family down to Rochester in Kent for our first visit to the annual Dickensian Christmas Festival. It was a far cry weather wise from the summer Dickens' Festival we went to and this time we spent more time trying to keep warm and dry rather than trying to find shade from the summer's blazing heat.

There were street entertainers doing short plays, magic and music, a chance to have a go at bell ringing (which my daughter got told she is a natural at!) and as many people dressed in Dickensian clothes or as characters from Dickens' novels as you want to spare the time to look at. There was also an absolutely ram-packed Christmas market and the kids loved going on the rides (except the scary ride which was over before it began for my two). And let's not forget the candle light procession and the 'guaranteed snow' (pumping out from machines around the town) that created a wonderful wintry atmosphere.. 

Now I love all this kind of stuff: the characters, the street entertainment and so forth. There is so much to watch and do that it takes all of your focus and you find yourself very much in the present mentally and free from all the other day to day stuff that can so often be there the rest of the time.

One particular street play I stopped to watch was a very well put together and funny rendition of a Christmas Carol, where Scrooge is visited by three ghosts (or four if you count Jacob Marley) who represent the ghosts of past, present and future. And it always reminds me of a particular hypnotherapy technique that can be useful where someone is seeking motivation or isn't doing something that they know they really need or ought to be doing.

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Ely Festive 5k - Santa boosted Mental Health:

This weekend marked the annual Ely Festive 5k, where a few hundred people (mostly) dress up in their finest festive gear and walk, jog and run around the streets of Ely. 

And, in what is fast becoming a family tradition, I dusted off my white beard and red hat, reminded my daughter that yes, she really had said she wanted to do the Ely run again this year, and headed to the start line alongside the fabulous Ely Cathedral. 

It's always a fun occasion and there is always a lot of friendly chat and encouragement from fellow runners on the way around. All of which helped me to cope with over thirty minutes of continuous moaning from my daughter about how a) every part of her ached b) she couldn't breathe and c) how she was never, ever, going to do this again (all of which are also fast becoming part of the annual tradition!!). But bless here she finished it and even managed a sprint finish over the last 50 metres AND she did it quicker than in any of the previous years. 

I think the awesome chocolate orange brownie she tucked into at the end helped to ease some of the 'suffering' and her next day muscle soreness will soon pass too (although not before a rather achy PE lesson at school!). And, of course, she felt better after having done the run and a sense of satisfaction in telling others of her endeavours.

I've written many times about the mental health benefits of being active... and I'm sure there must be research that dressing as Santa boosts mental health too! Anyway, before the run we popped into the office to record a short video...although it got overtaken a bit by my daughter experiencing a bit of an issue behind me!! 

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Misophonia - Dealing With Noise Sensitivity & Anxiety:

Some sounds can be just plain irritating and annoying. Sounds such as the high pitch scream of a dentist's drill or someone drilling a hole in a wall can set you on edge and make you want to move away.

Yet with misophonia, which literally means 'the hatred of sound', that noise sensitivity can send you into a rage and fill you with overwhelming stress, anxiety and anger. And it will often be sounds such as chewing, eating and the repetitive clearing of a throat, that is enough to make certain situations unbearable.

With Christmas approaching, and the prospect of sufferers trying to cope with, or avoid, eating with others, misphonia has received some press coverage recently.

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Should you wait until you feel like it? My latest hypnotherapy vlog:

Yesterday morning my alarm went off at 5.30am, something that has become much more of a regular occurrence of late. That's the time I need to get up to get ready if I'm going to get to bootcamp on time.  It's one of my least favourite moments of the week and it's repeated up to three times a week. 

As I tentatively opened my eyes to the realisation that it was still pitch black outside, every part of my mind and body was whispering for me to stay under the warm duvet and give it a miss. It was cold out there!

If you asked me in those first minutes if I felt like getting up, getting ready and going out to exercise in the dark and cold, I can promise you that the answer would have been a very clear and very precise 'no way!'

No matter how much I love and enjoy bootcamp, no part of me in that moment feels like running around, doing countless burpees and press ups or lifting some weights.  Yet I still get up and do it because I know how much better I will feel afterwards; I know the positive outcomes that await me.

And it's true even when we look at issues such as anxiety. 

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Some Thoughts On Grief - New Hypnotherapy Vlog:

This weekend marked the Armistice 2018 and a chance to take some time to remember those who served during the First World War, on the centenary of its conclusion, along with paying tribute and remembering those who have served in other conflicts on behalf of their country.

Here in Ely there was a march to lay wreaths at the Memorial and, in the evening, there was a Beacon of Light service that included the playing of the Last Post, a very well observed two minutes' silence and the lighting of the new beacon, along with the ringing out of the Church bells. It really was a very moving and poignant reminder of 100 years since the signing of the Armistice.

I always think it's very important that we all pay tribute and take a few moments on this day and it was very pleasing to hear my kids talking about it from things they had learnt at school.  

As well as paying tribute to those who have served and, in many cases, given the ultimate sacrifice, this past week has marked the fifth anniversary of the death of my father from cancer, which has naturally led to me thinking about grief and the loss of a loved one. I've recorded a short video about some of my thoughts around grief that I share with you below.

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