Shirley’s Mental Health Blog

Shirley’s Mental Health blog for February

Hi Everyone,

Firstly, I want to say a massive thank you to everyone that responded to my first blog, I was overwhelmed at the response I received! For those of you that shared personal experiences of Mental Health, I will be contacting you personally for future blogs, as you had some great tips to pass on for those of you that may be still struggling.

Here’s just one of the responses:

Hi Shirley

I personally struggle with anxiety quite badly with a history of panic attacks and originally really struggled to talk to people about it. The ‘what have you got to worry about’ answers just got so tiresome and I’m now seeking help about it. But would love if any of the future blogs about mental health could talk a bit about anxiety because I think so many more people suffer than we know. I think that’s because unlike depression, anxiety can vary from moment to moment; you can have a comfortable life with technically little to worry about but still panic about the future or certain situations.

If you are planning on including any tips for people who struggle like I do, I have a few:

  • Keep focusing on today (easier said than done). Ways of doing so can be writing a list of today’s tasks and plans to achieve, focusing on what is good about today and what you have to look forward to in the near future.
  • Visualising your happy place and envisioning yourself there.
  • Keeping busy but not in a way that you’d burn out. Don’t let yourself be alone too often as this can allow your mind to make up scenarios and worry. Going for a walk, reading, listening to music, phoning/messaging a close friend/family member.

 Really looking forward to seeing what happens with your blog and hope people are on board with it.

Let me know if you’d like any more contributions about anxiety or anything else.

Many thanks,


Thank you so much H, we will be covering anxiety in future blogs so your contribution will be very much appreciated.

Time To Talk Day

I mentioned in my last blog that it was Time To Talk Day on the 6th February, and by sheer coincidence, the L&D team were having a team meeting that day, so I took the opportunity to try out a couple of activities.

The first activity I tried was the ‘Elephant in the Room’ activity. For this, all you need is a quiet place, some flip chart paper with a drawing of an elephant on it, some pens and post-it notes.

I invited the team to write how they are feeling, or what stops them from talking about their mental health on a post-it note (anonymously) and stick it on the elephant. This sharing of ideas and feelings is a way of exposing mental health problems in the workplace without identifying individuals which creates a sense of community, ending isolation.

This activity is also a good way of running a ‘temperature check’ on mental health amongst staff. Click here if you would like to try it.  You can also run a follow-up event where the elephant and messages become a point of a discussion – especially if there is a trend in how people are feeling.

The other activity I facilitated was a bit of a game called ‘sussed’, which you can find here. These ‘Sussed’ cards are a great way to break the ice and actually help people open up and talk about themselves, but most importantly talk about mental health. Have a go they’re fun too.

Both of these activities can also be found on the eLFY bookshelf.


So much has happened since my last blog. February’s blog was understandably delayed due to COVID-19.  Many of us are feeling mixed emotions such as being anxious and scared. Now more than ever is the time we need to support each other.

If you are working in the homes supporting individuals directly, I would like to personally thank you and all the front line staff for keeping those that are the most vulnerable safe.

More of us will be spending a lot of time at home perhaps self-isolating, and our regular activities will not be enjoyed or on offer. It helps to try and look at this as though it as a different time in your life, and it may not necessarily a bad one.

We may need to change the way we look at it. Such as an opportunity to be in touch with others in different ways than before for example on social media, e-mail or the phone. I’ve even managed to show my parents (both in their late 70’s) how to FaceTime, and they love it. You can still stay in touch with the people you are close to.

Try to organise yourself to do something different every day and look after yourself. There are some great tips on the COVID-19 resource library on the Achieve together website for this. For example, gardening tips and joining exercise classes on YouTube. Fit in those jobs that we have been putting off or never normally have the time to do like decorating, or de-cluttering. Don’t forget your other health needs too, such as having enough prescription medicines available to you.

There are more tips on how to look after your mental health during the crisis here:

For those of you who are struggling, I have uploaded some tips on the eLFY bookshelf to help support you during the crisis, they’re in the COVID-19 folder. I would still like to hear from you so please continue to share your ideas for coping during these difficult times, please continue to post on the blog. Stay safe, and we will talk again soon.