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Staying Sane In Youthwork

First published in Youthwork Magazine at http://www.youthwork-magazine.co.uk/main/article/stayingsane [used with permission].

If I asked you to tell me five things that keep you physically healthy, you could probably list them with no trouble. Less sugar in your tea; more veg on your plate; more walk and less car; more water; less beer (or is this just me?). However, if I asked you to tell me five things proven by scientists to keep you mentally healthy, would you know how to respond?

It’s not that the evidence is lacking, rather this is something we tend not to think about much – until the wheels come off and it’s a bit late. So here is a practical guide – full of tips, good habits and basic facts - that will help you keep as sane as you can be.

Anatomy of an emotion

Despite the ‘lid’ coming off emotions in the 1960s, most people are not that aware of what emotions actually are. We talk about them more, but is that talk effective? With the rates of mental illness rising, perhaps it’s time to get back to basics:

Identifying our emotions (and knowing what our patterns are) is the first step to emotional health. Spend a few moments, thinking of how many ‘mood words’ you know. Why not print off a mood chart and stick it on your fridge? Start each day with a reality check.

We all have different ‘personality types’ and so experience emotions in different ways. This is entirely normal and we should not try to change this. There are some wellknown personality ‘tests’ out there like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI, www.myersbriggs.com). You can find free versions online that can be fun to do in a peer group; they will provoke plenty of discussion and you will learn lots about each other!

However, the MBTI tends to undermeasure something psychologists call ‘neuroticism’ – which, importantly, is the personality type most associated with anxiety and depression. If this is you, then it will be helpful to learn how to manage this part of you well, and the MBTI will not do that. Boundaries are important – read the classic book by Cloud and Townsend. It is good to know that neuroticism has a number of strengths too: these people are often sensitive, caring, good listeners and in people-focussed professions like youth work…

Stages of burnout

Mental health problems take time to develop, usually over a number of months. For some, familial childhood contributions are obvious; but even the person with the very best upbringing will struggle in some circumstances.

One good tip is to be aware of your early warning signs. Mine are a tension headache and a poor night’s sleep. If I have either of these for no reason for two nights, I know something is up. I ask my wife, ask God and take stock of what I am up to. Usually it is a matter of just saying ‘no’ to a couple of things, but it will save me problems later on.

The next stage is using up favours. Most youth workers rely on good networks and relationships. These will go through ups and downs, but they should average out, with you giving as many favours as you ask for and keeping a few hidden away for a rainy day. If your ‘favour equation’ is getting unbalanced or the reserve is running dry, then this is the start of a crisis. Good friends will also hopefully point this out – do you have these?

Then comes the first stage that is noticeable to others – a degree of burnout. There may be some snappiness; missed deadlines. Worse, you stop doing the things you enjoy – the very things that are keeping you sane. It is unhelpful for line-managers to be rigid at this point, because what is probably needed is a few days off, permission to stop a few things and more encouragement. Get this from elsewhere if you have to, and it is always good to have a support group who are independent from your boss.

Tackling things now will help you to avoid the final stage – a ‘breakdown’. Again, as a psychiatrist, I am not entirely sure what this word means. But it is a good concept; meaning this car is broken down, and is going to pull over on the hard shoulder until the nice man from the AA takes a look under the bonnet and fixes whatever is wrong. It is your body wisely telling your sometimes over-keen brain that enough is enough for a while.

Firm foundations

The Beatles tell us, ‘All you need is love’, but we all know it’s a bit more complicated than that. Youth workers in churches can tell themselves that ‘all they need is Jesus’ and to have more faith. But it’s not so easy; Jesus can seem far away and ‘Jesus’ can seem to be the cause of the problem. Others ram this ‘cure’ so far down our throats that we gag.

All this can leave us with the feeling that ‘I’m not supposed to feel like this’ (see a great book on this topic I’m Not Supposed to Feel Like This: A Christian Approach to Depression and Anxiety by Williams, Richards and Whitton, Hodder, 2002); and this can undermine our faith. However, if we go for the more complex answer, we can learn things about ourselves a stress-free life cannot teach. The Bible calls this ‘refining’, the world calls it ‘the school of hard knocks’.

We can rebuild the foundations of our faith, making them our own and not our parents, seeing Jesus as a brother and not a Santa Claus or Headmaster, sharing God’s frustration with disunity and inequality. This is also a time for being kind to ourselves, for being as generous to ourselves as we would be to others and for being patient with ourselves as we work this one out.

Five ‘F’s to help you stay mentally healthy

Friends

Classic English poet John Donne said, ‘No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.’ We all need people, even those of us who are introverts. Aim for a couple of close friends and build these relationships slowly over time, with love, sacrifice and laughter. Aim for a handful of ‘mates’ who you see or talk to often. Allow many more to be at a distance; care for them, but don’t expect too much and don’t let them break your heart. And don’t feel that you have to get on with EVERYONE all the time – the Bible never says this (see Romans 12:18 if you don’t believe me!).

Fun

You’d be amazed at how seriously people can take the topic of emotional health. We hope that this edition of Youthwork is read in the relaxed style that it was created. We need to ‘get Jamaican’ on our emotions. If simply trying harder was going to work, wouldn’t it have done so by now? So, take some time out from the planning, the reviewing and the self-condemning – and have a bit of fun.

Faith

As a Christian youth worker, church will be hard to avoid – but it is important to keep faith alive in the middle of it all. Some things you might try are: a) listen to worship music and try some different styles to your usual, b) go to an early morning holy communion service (at your church or another) – God can speak powerfully in times of stress through liturgy and space, c) get away from it all to a conference, but don’t ram in too many seminars – take time to receive prayer and be alone, d) visit the Mind and Soul testimonies area (www.mindandsoul.info/testimonies), and e) go to another church on your day off – it is a day off after all…

Food

It’s hard to have good emotional health on a diet of chips and beer, just as it’s hard to have good skin. You know the basics – a balanced diet and all that – but now it is time to actually put it into practice. Look at www.5aday.nhs.uk for the science and some healthy meal ideas. Why not cook for some of those friends you want to make?

Fitness

Whether you enjoy football, ballet, swimming or long walks in the countryside, getting your pulse up makes you feel fitter, releases mood-enhancing endorphins and gives you something to talk about. Look at www.nhs.uk/livewell/ fitness for ideas, and www.sustrans.org.uk for the National Cycle Network (which has a funky iPhone app).

‘Alongside Companion’

One of my favourite descriptions of the Holy Spirit is the ‘Paraclete’ (Greek: parákletos), which is literally translated as ‘called to the side of God’. Some preaching can make the Holy Spirit sound like a carrot of ‘if you had more faith you’d be healed’ – and this just makes people feel unworthy and unready. Other preaching makes the Spirit sounds like a stick of ‘you’re saved and you’ve got the Bible so what more do you want’ – and this just makes people feel useless and inadequate. Neither of these definitions are correct.

Instead, He wants us to journey with Him through the good times and the bad, maybe even the sane and the insane; and he wants to journey with the sick as much as (or maybe even more than, Matthew 9:12) the well. This is illustrated in the well-known Footprints poem: there are times when He actually has to carry us.

This article is food for the journey – nourishment and principles to make us strong before the ‘carrying’ section comes. Now is as good a time as any to put in the preparation, to make sure you can hear the voice of the Alongside God for times of sickness as well as health.

(Author: Rob Waller)

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The Christian Fellowship of Healing existed for many years in Edinburgh until 2012. We have made available a large number of their resources on this page in the hope that you will find help, comfort and direction. (Author: Mind and Soul Team)

Public Minds Videos
'Public Minds' is a series of short films which tackles this head-on, presenting very practical advice given directly by young people, mental health practitioners, youth workers and counsellors. Developed by the leading charity 'Young Minds' (Author: Rich Smith)

Feeling conspicuous ...
What has the royal wedding taught me about social anxiety? And how can the church help people who find social situations - and church - really challenging? (Author: Kate Middleton)

Transformation in Christ, Healing and Discipleship Course
Teaching and compassionate ministry in a safe and confidential place to aid the removal of blockages to spiritual growth. Help for Christians struggling with emotional, relational, sexual issues, lack of self-acceptance etc. (Author: Randall Staley)

Ending Domestic Abuse - a Pack for Churches
The aim of this policy is to enable the Church to address domestic abuse both within its own community and wider society. Also to work through how to deal with domestic abuse issues in today’s world. (Author: Natalie Collins)

Chaplains are very useful
Do you want to see your local hospital chaplaincy service cut. They are vital for mental health and a large number of other areas. (Author: Rob Waller)

Restored's History
How Restored came into being - a global Christian alliance to transform relationships and end violence against women (Author: Natalie Collins)

Christian Leaders who are abusers
An article looking at the reality of abusive Christian leaders by 'Restored' (Author: Natalie Collins)

Headship: The Giving up of Power
A reflection on headship and Jesus' teaching. What does it mean to give it up? What does it mean to truly serve? (Author: Natalie Collins)

A Chilling Conversation
It's the question every parent dreads... 'do you think I am fat?' But it's not one I expected to encounter quite so soon. (Author: Kate Middleton)

Seven steps to solving a problem
To learn a technique called Problem Solving, work through the seven steps in this article. This will work for any problem for which there is a solution to be found today. (Author: Rob Waller)

YAMHS - not a fruit
How can we best understand growing up and the problems it presents? How should Young Adult Mental Health Services be set up to fit with this? (Author: Rob Waller)

Emotions invented by the internet
A recent blog details 5 emotions 'invented' by the internet. How can the internet sometimes generate difficult or unpleasant emotions? And what can we do to avoid them? (Author: Kate Middleton)

Healing and Mental Illness
What is the place of faith healing in mental illness. Can something has hurt so many be encouraged? Can something which has helped so many be ignored? (Author: Rob Waller)

New Year! New You?
The start of the year can offer us a sense of new beginnings but how helpful is this really? Are we stuck in the past or overly keen to begin a new future? (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Happy Christmas or Joyeux Noel?
Do the words Happy Christmas make you cringe, or worry that you are far from happy? Joyeux Noel is a different persepective - one that is achievable and yet also full of hope (Author: Mind and Soul Team)

Strictly Come Recovery?
With X factor over, your attention may have moved to the Strictly Come Dancing final due this weekend. But how is recovery like learning a new dance, and what can we learn from Strictly? (Author: Kate Middleton)

Church and the Lernaean Hydra
A church is a small community and this means that news spreads fast - good or bad. How can people struggling with emotional problems be particularly vulnerable to the many headed beast of rumour? (Author: Kate Middleton)

Keeping your Christmas Sparkle...
December is fast approaching and the challenge of staying emotionally positive over the festive period need to be considered now. Here are a few thoughts and pointers for the month ahead. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Fasting and Easting Disorders
How does helpful fasting, as a spiritual discipline, relate to eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia? This article explores what true fasting is and how food restriction due to illness is very different. (Author: Rob Waller)

Sound Sensitivity and Distress
Many people suffer from sensitivity to sound in the form of distressing Tinnitus or other classifications of auditory disorder. Finding peace in the 21st centruy world is a real challenge. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Cities and networking
See the video from the start of the Telford Mind and Soul Conference. Do you know what is going on in your city? (Author: Rob Waller)

It's Good to See So Much Less of You
The challenge of facing up to food and losing weight (Author: Jonathan Clark)

Winter Is Back
The dark nights are drawing in! This can have a major impact on our feelings. Here are my top ten for keeping the winter blues at bay! (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Reviewing The Beautiful Mind
Looking back on 2010, The Beautiful Mind Conference was definitely one of my highlights...here are a few thoughts about how it happened... (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Alternative therapies
There is a wide range of alternative therapies on offer today. Some of the more common ones are acupuncture, hypnotherapy, homeopathy, cranio-sacral therapy and osteopathy. Do they help and should Christians pursue them? (Author: Rob Waller and Jonathan Clark)

Relational Paradise Lost and Found 
God has designed us as relational beings. Adam and Eve knew relational paradise as well as physical. This relational paradise was lost can it be found? (Author: Jonathan Clark)

Acceptance
Acceptance is a very powerful tool in the face of anxiety, yet it feels passive and like giving up! How can we be accepting but also battle anxiety (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Future Orientation
As the old proverb says, a stitch in time saves nine. But what does it mean to live with half an eye on the future. How is it possible to do this well, and how is it possible to do this very unhelpfully? (Author: Rob Waller)

Who are you listening to?
It's easy to know the bible really well, and all the things God says about us. But how do we stop that stuff being drowned out by other things we hear day to day. And what does that have to do with Mindfulness? (Author: Kate Middleton)

Where do Christians go for help?
If you ask Christians who they would like to see, most will say they would prefer a Christian health professional, all other things being equal. But that is the rub - are all other things equal? (Author: Tara Gormley)

Prayer and Healing Research
Praying for people with the aim of healing is something Christians have always done, but is it effective and what does current research say? In this article, Anne Douglas summarises the current understanding and explores how local groups can develop (Author: Anne Douglas)

What's in a Diagnosis?
Last week, I was able to listen to Thomas Szasz and David Goldberg in the same day, Some will know these names, and their views on the benefits of diagnosis vary hugely (Author: Rob Waller)

Time
Patience is such a important part of the healing journey, but a difficult one to grasp in our hight speed culture. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

All about emotions
An introduction to emotions. What they are, why we have them and what to do with them (Author: Kate Middleton)

Dealing with Uncertainty
Uncertainty and doubt form a painful undercurrent in many peoples lives. Often the desire to escape them just makes them more powerful. How then can we find a deeper peace. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

A welcome dilemma
Is church sometimes a difficult place to come to? How can we help people who don't find it easy - and what exactly should our welcome be aiming to do? (Author: Kate Middleton)

Words of encouragement
A list of encouraging Bible verses straight from God himself. He is able to help us because He understands! (Author: Christian Mental Health)

Psychosis and Hearing Voices
Psychosis and hearing voices are disturbing problems for both the sufferer and the person trying to help. Learn about causes and getting help (Author: Rob Waller)

16 things not to say
Yes, these have all been said! Yes, actually to people's faces! Try something else instead (Author: Alan and Amanda Stephenson)

Anger Management
Anger Management is a hot topic in psychiatry at the moment - not because anger is a mental illness but because the two frequently coincide making it part of the problem and hance part of the treatment focus. In this post, I want to (Author: Rob Waller)

Exhausted church leaders
Being a church leader is a real challenge and it is essential to realise that the task is endless, the needs definitely outstrip supply and the difficulties are persistant. The challenge of spotting and supporting people who are (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Hopeless Cases?
Is there ever such a thing as a 'hopeless case'? (Author: Kate Middleton)

Minds are Like Parachutes
What are you doing to keep your mind open at the moment? What have you heard, seen or read recently that has challenged you? How have you changed? (Author: Rob Waller)

No more self-centred help
How we use self help is vital to its success - we can easily use it to harm instead (Author: Rob Waller)

I Should Have Got Over It By Now
Have you ever been in a situation where you have visited a place, seen or heard something and then suddenly memories flood back and you are taken back to a time , a place and an experience which you thought was long time past and dealt with? (Author: Jonathan Clark)

Activating Hopefulness
I have been thinking recently about the way in which our faith in God provides so much strength in times of mental anguish. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Premier Lifeline
Premier Lifeline, this year celebrates its 15th birthday and has taken over 750,000 calls. However, the last few weeks has been a time when a shockwave has hit the Helpline world. The trust of the public built up over decades has been (Author: Jonathan Clark)

Relapse or Just a Reminder
For those of us who have experienced the pain of emotional distress at a particular point in life any return of those feelings can leave us extremely agitated and upset. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

The Dark Night of the Soul
I had never taken any interest in C. H. Spurgeon until a few weeks ago when I went to the Premiere of the new film “C. H. Spurgeon - The People’s Preacher” and the launch of the accompanying book by Peter Morden. (Author: Jonathan Clark)

Eating Disorders Awareness Week
Each year Anorexia/Bulimia Care sends a campaign to churches and Christian organisation in order to raise awareness of eating disorders and increase understanding for those affected and their families. Last year together with (Author: Mind and Soul Team)

In Another World
Over the last year one of the most common questions that I have been asked whether by email or at Conferences has been regarding a condition which straddles the boundary between Mental Health and Learning Disability. (Author: Jonathan Clark)

Forever Mindful
Recently as I sat in the chapel with my staff I was aware that we all were suffering in our own ways. We could have been very typical and passed over our burdens with an, ‘I’m alright Jack’ approach. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

My Reflections on 2009
18/12/2009 -As I look back at the year that is coming to a close I am left with that feeling that it both seems to have gone very fast and yet so much has happened that events in the Autumn already seem a long time ago. (Author: Jonathan Clark)

Advent Stress Buster
An article in The Daily Telegraph on November 7th 2009 stated, “This country is the most individualistic society in the world…levels of depression and anxiety among Britons are also some of the highest in the world”. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Working in the Grey Areas
what does it mean to work as a psychologist in a church setting with non of the usual boundaries that psychologists are used to having? (Author: Kate Middleton)

The Valley of the Shadow of Death
For anyone who has experienced depression the passage in Psalm 23 v.4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” may have particular meaning. (Author: Jonathan Clark)

Getting back to the Future
20/10/2009 -For most people their vision for wellness comes from the past and not the future. They look back and say, “I just want to be like I used to be!” (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

When time stands still
Chronic complaints don't kill us but don't let us live as we wish. How can we live life to the full? (Author: Rob Waller)

Fractured self-esteem
Last month I broke my collar bone - and I am finding it hard to do what i usually do. My self-esteem has been affected... (Author: Rob Waller)

Two Rafts
Imaging two life rafts bobbing around on a stormy ocean. Both rafts were deployed from, ‘The Ship of Health and Wellbeing.’ Which sadly hadn’t stayed afloat for long! (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Civilian PTSD
The “Trauma Industry” has become big business on the High Street and a diagnosis originally used for the Armed Forces in relation to Shell Shock or Combat Stress is now being used to justify insurance claims for thousands of civilians. (Author: Jonathan Clark)

Building Resilience
As we face social stress as part of the recession, how can we build resilience - how can we make people more likely to be effective? A faith perspective has key things it can bring (Author: Rob Waller)

A Psychologist in a Church
What makes someone go from working as a psychologist in secular practice to working for the local church? (Author: Kate Middleton)

Keeping on Running
Have you ever thought, “Stop the world I want to get off?” Or felt that life was a treadmill, which seems to insist on an ever-increasing speed. (Author: Jonathan Clark)

Good-enough God
How do you grow from being an emotionally fragile baby who cries at the drop of a hat to being an emotionally stable adult who can tolerate a large degree of distress? (Author: Rob Waller)

Look who's captive
16/07/2009 -In 2 Corinthians 10:5 it says "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Transitional Times of Life
This year has been a strange one. My fellow Directors of Mind and Soul have spent 2009 getting used to being Fathers for the first time with their first-born children being born just a few days apart. (Author: Jonathan Clark)

We agnostics
We keep on saying that spirituality is essential for your mental health - but what if you don't believe? (Author: Rob Waller)

Talk to me...
About ten years ago Britons used to scorn our therapy loving neighbours across the pond. Famous for our stiff upper lip and British reserve, the values and benefits of talking appear to have eluded entire generations. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Life in the burbs
In polite society we can wear masks so easily. Do we need a dose of reality to make us find a better way of life? (Author: Rob Waller)

The 7000
Do you feel alone? Are there others working along side you? There are, even if you can't see them, and we want to point them out (Author: Rob Waller)

Bereavement due to suicide
Health Talk Online, the UK's largest online collection of real-life health stories and shared experiences of health and illnesses, has launched a new section that gives a unique voice to people who have been bereaved by suicide (Author: Mike Bush)

Conviction or condemnation
You may be a sinner but let me ask you a question - do you tend to feel more guilty than you need to? (Author: Rob Waller)

Eating Disorders - the reality for families
Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder, Food Phobia, Food Avoidance Emotional Disorder? Since 1980 Anorexia and Bulimia Care has helped thousands of sufferers and their families care for and cope with eating disorders through the illness to (Author: ABC)

Recovery and Faith in Eating Disorders
Recovery is something you may find yourself thinking about a lot when you are struggling with an eating disorder or if you are caring for someone with one. Maybe it’s something you fear – or something you long for. For sufferers it can be both (Author: ABC)

The Church and Eating Disorders
Research carried out at events and conferences found that 90% of church members knew someone who was suffering with an eating disorder. 70% of them knew someone in their own church. The majority said that their church was not able to offer (Author: ABC)

Suffering from an eating disorder
Anyone who has experienced anorexia or bulimia can describe that tantalising paradox as it offers everything you feel as if you are looking for, and at the same time steals your life from you and robs your future hopes. One-sufferer describes (Author: ABC)

CBT for Anxiety
Anxiety has a myriad causes, but clinically can be divided into three pictures: A. isolated panic attacks [such as specific phobias], B. panic with in between background anxiety [such as scocial phobia] and C. constant background anxiety (Author: Rob Waller)

Knowing Me
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m sure I have been here before?” The same feelings of depression, the same anxiety, old guilt that you thought you had dealt with and old memories you thought you had resolved. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

20 Ways of Staying Afloat...
Mental distress in whatever form it takes triggers a whole range of responses from people. When I ask a group of people to list any words, terms or phrases which in some way relate to mental disorder the list is surprising long. (Author: Jonathan Clark)

Two-stage Resolutions
New Year again - just how do I make those changes and resolutions stick? (Author: Rob Waller)

The Leviathon of Christmas Chaos
People were streaming down Oxford this week in an almighty surging snake that reminded me of the Leviathan of Chaos in Psalm 74:14. Ok that might sound like a little bit of an odd association but I think a helpful one. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Myths, Stigma and Port
Do you drink a lot of Port? This could be a very seasonal question with the answer “yes, with stilton…” but this is a question I have been asked countless times (Author: Jonathan Clark)

TWLOHA
To write love on her arms - is better than her carving HATE into her skin. Read about self harm and a new charity that wants to help (Author: Rob Waller)

Joy to the world?
The carols promise Joy, but what if you are not participating in the Joy of Christmas? Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder are not about being a Humbug or a Scrooge (Author: Rob Waller)

Stress - Friend or Foe
“I feel stressed, I am stressed out, I am under pressure, I just wish this stress would go away. I can’t cope with this stress any longer.” When people talk about stress it invariably comes across as a negative. However, I am well aware that (Author: Jonathan Clark)

Ego-Dystonic Thoughts and Images
As a priest over the years a number of people have asked me for assurance of their salvation. Of course as Protestant this is not something that I have been able to offer, except to ask if they have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour? (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

How Mad Are You or Is It How Mad Am I?
Anyone who has watched the recent series of television programmes will be aware that an experiment was conducted with 10 people living together in a house being watched by a team of mental health professionals (Author: Jonathan Clark)

Challenging Attendees
How does the church deal with people whose behaviour presents a challenge - to the running of services and the safety of others? We need to be wise in managing risk but also loving. This article offers a framework for managing and reducing (Author: Rob Waller)

Remembering Combat Stress
90 years ago, the armistice ending World War One was signed. We often remember those with amputations and scars, but the psychiatric casulaties are just as numerous. WW1 was when the term 'shell shock' became well known and today, though (Author: Rob Waller)

Break Lights
The clocks go back this week, signalling the end of the summer and the beginning of what has been an already turbulent Autumn. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Worried Why
It true to say that at no point do we truly view the world with objectivity (that is how it actually is) instead we view it subjectively (that is through the damage, memories and beliefs that we have formed around our world-view) (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Snail's pace
Our logo is a snail. Find out why and learn from this wise beast! (Author: Rob Waller)

The new priests
Jung said psychiatrists are the new priests, but are they really and do they want this role? (Author: Rob Waller)

Threat Sensitivity
People often ask my why they always seem to find their fear trigger in every situation. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Opinion and Hubris
When am I dispensing pearls of wisdom and when am I merely enjoying the sound of my own voice? And how can I tell... (Author: Rob Waller)

A bias for the poor
Because of the uphill battle the poor and the mentally ill face, do we need to make the slope run downhill for them? Did Jesus? (Author: Rob Waller)

Inside-out Spirituality
Intrinsic and Extrinsic are two words used in researching spirituality - the man who embodies his religion vs the man who practices it. Is one more useful for mental health than the other? (Author: Rob Waller)

My fellow lepers
When we have something to say, we had better make sure we are not sharing it from a position of fragile and false superiority. We have so much to learn... (Author: Rob Waller)

Beattitudes for today
The beattitudes require you to be something, not do something. For some barely being alive is a struggle, so this is good news (Author: Rob Waller)

Disappoinment Lodger
Over the summer I came across two really painful contrasts in the church, those who had seen or were expecting miraculous healing and those who were sceptical or sorely disappointed by the lack of healing that they received. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

How to talk usefully about the past
We often want to tell our stories - we believe we should and it will be good for us. But it is not always wise. Learn when to tell and how to reach that place (Author: Rob Waller)

The three degrees
My mental health is affected by my religiosity [behaviour], my spirituality [beliefs] and my personal relationship with God - which is paramount? (Author: Rob Waller)

Depressed pastors
25% of Clergy time off in the Church of England is caused by depression - but no-one seems to be talking about it. In the February 2008 Podcast we look at some of the reasons behind this and what can be done about it. (Author: Rob Waller)

Mental health bible study
This Bible Study is designed to be used in a small group, maybe as a way of introducing the topic in your church. Start by considering "What is good mental health like?". (Author: Martin Hird)

Panic Attacks
I have had quite a few requests recently for information on panic attacks from younger Christian people so I thought I should have a go at explaining things and putting them in a bit of context - so here goes. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Feeling Under Pressure
Here I am feeling totally stressed out, time is short, too many things to do, bombarded from every direction and trying to juggle as many balls as I am being given, but the more efficiently I seem to do this the more are thrown at me. (Author: Jonathan Clark)

Self condemnation
So many Christians struggle with incessant self condemnation. This self condemnation can be a product of mental health issues or it can be a contributing factor towards their development. (Author: Will Van Der Har)

Unhealthy professionals
Should mental health professionals be 100% healthy? Should they have had a personal experience of mental illness? Should they have 'sorted themselves out before they try to help others? What does Christianity have to say about this? (Author: Rob Waller)

Types of Christian counselling
There are so many counselling options available - how do you know which ones to go for? Most people identify three levels of counselling: support, counselling and therapy. This can be biblical, 'nouthetic' or person-centred. (Author: Rob Waller)

Seeing your GP
It is very common for people to go and see their GP with common mental health problems like anxiety or depression. We see two or three new cases of depression most days. (Author: Peter Davies)

Panic attacks
I have had quite a few requests recently for information on panic attacks from younger Christian people so I thought I should have a go at explaining things and putting them in a bit of context - (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Obsessional confession
I was talking with two Christians recently who disclosed that they felt very distressed by they constant desire to ask God for forgiveness. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

My inner eye
I have spent the last 24 hours in Newcastle studying anxiety disorders, in particular how people keep living according to their own internal logic because in some way this makes sense to them. (Author: Rob Waller)

When it gets risky
It can be very hard to know when you have done all you can and things are now getting out of hand. This article explains some of the key things to look for. (Author: Mike Bush)

Losing someone from suicide
There are a number of sources of help available. Start with this testimony about how one person came back 'out of the ashes' and worked through their problems - with God's help. There are also some links to helpful online resources and books. (Author: Mike Bush)

Depression symptoms
Depression can present with many symptoms. As a rule men tend to get angry to cover their grief and sadness, whereas women tend to get sad and tearful to cover their anger. Anxiety overlaps significantly with depression (Author: Peter Davies)

Dissatisfaction
Depression is a common illness in both general practice and hospital settings. Its severity ranges from mild to severe. The more severe cases certainly warrant treatment. (Author: Peter Davies)

Attitude to suicide
One of the hardest things to deal with when someone is suicidal or has died from suicide is that there are so many negative attitudes aboout the subject. It even used to be illegal until recently - (Author: Rob Waller)

Stress and distress
Stress is about two things. One is force, the second is ability to withstand that force. The term was originally borrowed from engineering where it is a key concept in assessing the strength of metals. In medicine we tend to focus on stress (Author: Peter Davies)

Sabbath serenity
Most stress workshops explore the flight and the fight alternatives. And there certainly is a right time to do one or the other. Joseph ran from the seductive Mrs. Potiphar (Gen 39); Moses confronted Pharaoh (Exod 5-11). But there is a third (Author: R Paul Stevens)

Christians and Therapy
There seem to be so many out there... I mean, should I look analytically at my self, socially at my relationships and work, psychologically at my thoughts, biologically (with drugs) at my brain chemicals, naturally at my links to nature, exist (Author: Rob Waller)

Images in the mind
I have spoken to a number of people over recent weeks, all Christians, who have been troubled with intrusive thoughts. These are often sexual or violent in nature and, whilst recognised as the persons own thoughts, they are not the thoughts (Author: Rob Waller)

Multiple personality disorder
I was asked by a lady at a conference yesterday what my views were on Multiple Personality Disorder. This is a set of symptoms where it seems like there are two or more distinct personalities present within one person. It is called (Author: Rob Waller)

Counselling is painful
The process of therapy or coming to a true understanding of ones-self is painful, usually because it involves coming face to face with some stuff that we had been hiding from for many years. Yesterday I was reading John's Gospel chapter 21 (Author: Rob Waller)

Talking about your faith
When I first meet a new patient/client, I want to make sure that i have identified all the things that are important to them. I ask about housing, relationships, symptoms, etc. For a lot of people, spirituality is an important part of who they (Author: Rob Waller)

How to dismantle your father
I was listening to U2's great new album yesterday - "How to dismantle an atomic bomb". It seems to be everyones favourite 'music for the journey' right now. The first track to get my attention was track 3. Bono is talking about his (Author: Rob Waller)

Stigma
People with mental health problems often find themselves on the outside of society and rejected by friends. Why is this? And why this is not an option for Christians. When the stranger says: "What is the meaning of this city? (Author: Rob Waller)

HALT
Some of us are really bad at seeing the signals that indicate things are not going very well. Because of this it is really common to find that life takes on a new speed or intensity that we cannot really handle. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Bad Memory Hunt
Easter egg hunts are great, you know that when you go on one there is going to be something nice and chocolaty at the end of it. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Common problems
Here are some ideas for help with problems we have not covered in detail elsewhere on the site. This page contains extracts from another website - the Student Counselling Centre at Royal Holloway College in London [©]. They have written some (Author: Royal Holloway College)

Stuck in the Past
For most people a vision for their wellness comes from the past and not the future. They look back and say, "I just want to be like I used to be!" This is actually a real problem for anyone who wants to become well. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Under the Cordon
Refelections upon the 7/7 terrorist attack in London and their influence upon my anxiety. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Overlearning Conquerers
To get to where we want to be, we sometimes need to push beyond our goals to settle back to the right place (Author: Rob Waller)

Living with Doubts
Thomas is always getting lambasted by Christians for his lack of faith. In fact Thomas is never called 'Doubting Thomas' in the Bible (see John 20:24-29) (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

War of Words
It is common amongst the emotionally sensitive to dwell on negatives and to take criticisms very personally. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Debt and Mental Health
There is a strong link between financial stress, debt and mental health. Listen to a day of teaching for Christians Against Poverty (Author: Rob Waller)

The Bitter Pill
I think I am still reeling from the incredibly insensitive journalism that surrounded the publication of research by Professor Kirsch of the University of Hull, questioning the benefit of anti-depressants. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Good Grief
It is fair to say that death is an important part of my work, although in my current parish I have been involved with very few funerals. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Annoying Cold or Welcome Cold
I got really crook this week, well as crook as you get with man flu. Yes I know men are far worse patients than women. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Knowing God helps
I was at a debate recently in which a very eminent Atheist pointed out that people's belief in God was good for them. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Egg Theory
I like the idea of having a theory. It sounds important, like it is something I worked out wearing a white coat in a science lab somewhere. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

New Year, New You?
Every year begins with a sense of expectation over what is to come in the year ahead. Just as I was waxing lyrical about plans and dreams for 2008 one of my close friends conceded that she hoped only to ‘survive’ the year ahead. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Famous and Flat
Why do famous people often seem so unhappy? It is an issue to do with identity, aspiration and a need to keen on achieving (Author: Rob Waller)

Shrinking the Inner Critic
In my work with clients repetitively traumatized in childhood, I am continuously struck by how frequently the various thought processes of the inner critic trigger them into overwhelming emotional flashbacks. This is because the PTSD-derived (Author: Peter Walker)

Overbearing Caring
I have been thinking a lot about healthy boundaries. What struck me was that people who are suffering from emotional disturbance are often too good at keeping strangers away, their problem is isolation and not overbearing community. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Freud and Pharmacology
When it is right to talk and when it is right to take a tablet? And when is it right to do both? (Author: Rob Waller)

J.John's Worry Letter
Did you know that most people's anxiety is focused and preoccupied with 40% of things that will never happen, 30% of things relating to the past that can't be changed, 12% of things... (Author: J.John)

Christians and Addiction
This article was written for Artisan Magazine. Artisan is a forum for people working in the arts and media industry, "to simply provide safe spaces in different hubs around the world for industry people to come and get spiritually hydrated (Author: Rob Waller)

Anger Revisited
Many people struggle with the sense that anger is wrong, especially those with a strong Christian faith. The difficulty is that anger is a healthy emotional response, without it we simply wouldn't be human. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

Feeling Lost
The feeling of being lost is an extremely common one for people who are experiencing stress, depression or emotional turmoil. Yet it is a very interesting description of human feelings. (Author: Will van Der Hart)

Obsessive Confession
I was talking with two Christians recently who disclosed that they felt very distressed by they constant desire to ask God for forgiveness. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

The Bull Fight
I saw this amazing (if unpleasant) sort of bull fighting on TV whilst on holiday in Portugal this summer. One little man, designated by wearing a green hat walked out into the ring and stared a huge great bull in the face. (Author: Will Van Der Hart)

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