How’s Your Mental Health
In recent years there has been an increase in the need for Mental Health Services which are already stretched and struggling. The Covid-19 pandemic triggered a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression globally (WHO 2022). At any one time one in six people of working age in Britain have experienced symptoms associated with mental ill health and 1 in 4 people are experiencing poor mental health each year. (mhfaengland.org)
Mental Health encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Many shy away from discussing mental health but the truth is we all have it. Most are lucky to have good mental health and can easily manage the times when circumstance or events challenge this. However, many suffer poor mental health and struggle to cope with these challenges.
There has been a shift in the attitudes of society and people are becoming more accepting of mental health problems. People seem more understanding and willing to support.
The biker community is no different. Mental Health Motorbike (MHM) is a two-wheeled charity, set up in March 2020 aimed to help and support the metal health of the biker community. Their objectives are as follows: –
- MHM is a free face to face and online mental health first aid support charity for the biker community throughout the UK. We exist to create meaningful and purposeful opportunities, for all bikers, so that together we grow the wellbeing of the biker community. We do this through 1 to 1 and peer support, events, training activities and projects working in partnership with organisations and clubs.
- MHM aims is to have a mental health first aider in every town & city in the UK. This may seem a tall order however so far this year they are well on the way to achieving this with a few hundred first aiders already completing the course. Within NAM we have 3 members who have now completed the course and have found it to be very enlightening and worthwhile. For more information on MHM or information on becoming a MHFAider then please go to www.mhmotorbike.com
So, what is a Mental health first aider? In the same way that physical first aid helps in the initial stages of an injury when professional help is not yet available, the same applies to mental health. MHFAiders are not therapist, doctors, counsellors, or diagnosticians. However, like physical first aid the course has given them the skills to give initial support, someone to talk to, provide guidance of what to do next and signposting to where to get help.
So, what can you do to help your mental health? The NHS website lists 5 steps to mental wellbeing. These include:
- Connecting with other people
- Being physically active
- Learning new skills
- Giving to others
- Paying attention to the present moment (mindfulness)
More information on these 5 steps can be found online at www.nhs.uk (5 steps to mental wellbeing), it is well worth a read. MHM also have resources about how to look after your mental health along with other resources and links to Samaritans, Shout, Staying safe and more (mhmotorbike.com)
If you however find yourself in poor mental health, there is always help available. Through MHM website you can access immediate urgent help. You can also join the Mental Health Motorbike Support Group on Facebook; it is a UK based group to support the mental health wellbeing of the group members through peer and MHM team members support (MHM Useful Resources)
If you are a NAM member who is suffering from poor mental health and wish to have local support from one of our MHFAiders we can be contacted through our new email firstname.lastname@example.org which has been set up especially for our members. It is important to stress that this is not for crisis support. We will aim to contact you within 48 hours to see what support we can offer and signpost you in the direction of appropriate services if needed. We as riders all know how beneficial riding is to our mental health, a good ride to blow away the cobwebs and clear the mind. When you’re out and about you may see a MHFAider, most have the MHFAider sticker on their bikes. If you see us don’t be shy and say hello. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t ride if it is not safe to do so, full concentration is vital when riding.
It is important to add that there are many mental health charities out there who’s aims are to help those who are suffering from poor mental health or metal illness. Mind, YoungMinds. The Samaritans also have a great website with information from getting urgent help when in crisis to information on self-help. Your first port of call may be your GP, or a self-referral through the NHS website.
Our mental health is as important as our physical health. Don’t suffer alone, reaching out and talking to someone can make a world of difference to your world.
Jo Russell, Catherine Taylor & Paul Taylor
(NAM Mental Health First Aid Team)