The focus on the 19th November is often on men’s wellbeing as part of International Men’s Day, and with the month of November being used to draw attention to Men’s Mental Health, there really is a big emphasis on encouraging men to talk more openly about how they’re feeling. With 40% reporting that it would take thoughts of suicide or self-harm to compel them to disclose that they may be struggling (Priory), it’s apparent that something must change in order to allow individuals to feel more comfortable discussing issues before they reach this point.
This doesn’t require a particular scheme of education, a new service or any large-scale changes. It only requires that a portion of men make some small, fundamental changes to the way they view themselves and others. Often as men, we’re perhaps brought up with aspirations of being a stereotypical Clint Eastwood-type – strong and silent. We often hear about how women’s bodies are portrayed in an unrealistic way in the media, in films etc. But think about almost every male lead you’ve seen in a movie; ripped, tall, quiet.
What about on social media platforms? Almost 30% of men over the age of 18 report having felt anxious about their body (Mental Health Foundation). Would you have guessed the number was this high? Probably not, because we don’t talk about things like that. We’re men.
But what does it mean to be a man in 2020? What does masculinity even mean anymore? Clearly, the traditional ideals of masculinity are no longer serving us well (if they ever did). 75% of suicides are men (Mental Health Foundation), and the number of men taking their own life is increasing. Suicide remains the leading cause of death for men under 35, and that’s an alarming statement.
So, what would it take to change this? Well, simply talking. And it doesn’t have to be everyone. One person in a friendship group asking seriously how the others are doing, encouraging their friends to feel comfortable seeing what’s beneath the surface. I’m not suggesting we all must dive in and pour our hearts out to each other, but just opening the door is enough. If you’re reading this and think that you could be that person, I implore you to take that first step, next time you sit down with a friend, share how you’ve been feeling about something in your life. Good or bad. Help them to see it’s ok to talk, by modelling that behaviour.
If you have a son (or daughter), start talking about “feelings” (a dirty word for us men, I know) early on. If something has upset them at school, talk through how it’s affected them. Model positive behaviours, sit down and discuss (within reason) some things that have stressed or upset you at work maybe. Show them it’s ok to be open.
Here are some things to keep in mind, that may make it easier to begin these kinds of conversations with friends and family:
- Think about the environment and your surroundings. The middle of a busy office or pub possibly isn’t a space where people are going to feel comfortable opening up. Try to choose somewhere relatively quiet or private in order to better facilitate these conversations.
- Tone of voice is important, if it seems like you’re making a joke then people will often laugh it off and use this to deflect from going any deeper. (This is something we’re very good at!)
- If you feel you can share a little bit about something you’ve struggled with or an experience you’ve had, then this will go a long way to making someone see that you are a person, they can trust and that has the capacity to understand how they might be feeling.
- Don’t push too hard to get someone to talk, this just makes them put up barriers. As we mentioned before, just opening that door can be enough. Maybe they will come back to you in a week or a month with something they want to discuss.
- If you do manage to start a conversation, encourage the other person to go on and try to talk to another friend. I guess, pay it forward.
In a year when we as humanity have come together and united against everything that has been thrown at us, the theme #UnitedAgainstBullying for Anti-Bullying week 2020 could not be more fitting.
To be United Against Bullying, we must first be clear on what bullying is; it is if somebody physically or verbally abuses another person, with the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) describing bullying as the intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group. Bullying could be an isolated incident or go on for a prolonged amount of time, it can happen to anyone and it can take on many different forms that usually focus on someone’s individual differences – sexual orientation, your race or ethnic background, individual beliefs or faith to name a few. There is, however one aspect of bullying that is a type in its own right, but a common thread amongst all forms of bullying and that is cyberbullying.
It is fair to say that the importance of the message behind Anti-Bullying week has not changed since its origins in 2004; to raise awareness of the bullying of children and young people. However, the issue of bullying has become even more complex due to the rapid evolution of the digital age – this is where cyberbullying has really come to the fore given our constant online connectivity.
So, what is cyberbullying?
It is targeting someone online for any specific reason (or seemingly no reason at all) and often, it is anonymous. With many of us having lived in a state of isolation this year (and many still being in some form of isolation), we are living more of our daily lives in the online world, witnessing or being exposed to online bullying, whether this is directed at you personally or indirectly through sight of hateful or hurtful posts about aspects of who you are. This is commonly referred to as ‘trolling’.
Part of the issue with cyberbullying is that we can very easily become desensitised to it due to its anonymous nature, both as a witness and indeed as the bully. We may witness bullying and share our distaste, but we carry on scrolling. We may leave hurtful comments, share or laugh at what is being said and then simply carry on with our daily lives. For the individual or group being bullied, this is not the case. They are not desensitised to the comments and it can have a direct impact on their daily lives – reading hurtful comments, seeing upsetting stories and reactions leading to feelings of isolation.
So, what effects can bullying have on individuals?
Simply put, a negative one. The impact on a young person’s mental health and wellbeing (or anyone for that matter), is likely to be significant. Feelings such as worthlessness, a loss of confidence, loneliness, anxiety or anger are common. For some, bullying can lead to much more serious mental health problems such as depression, anxiety or eating disorders and in extreme cases, this may also lead to self-harm or drugs and alcohol abuse.
Returning our focus to this year, 2020, where we have all lived through stints of isolation, many young people will not have had, or continue to not have, their usual support systems or outlets available to them. Those feelings of worthlessness or loneliness may be heightened and in some cases just as damaging, and you may find yourself asking – what can we do to unite against bullying?
- We can be more conscious of how we are behaving online, not only for ourselves in terms of who we follow, but in how we react and treat others online.
- Reach out if you see a friend or family member getting unwanted comments or attention online and offer them support.
- Check in on your friends and family, encourage them to take breaks from social media or their phone/laptop in general.
- When COVID guidelines say it is safe to do so, meet up and get outside, talk and support each other.
And what about if you are the one being bullied, what can you do?
- First and foremost, find a way to speak up. Ignoring the situation will not make it go away and there will always be someone willing to listen be that a friend, parent, sibling, teacher or carer.
- If you are experiencing cyberbullying specifically – you can report abusive posts on social media platforms or to CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre). And again, speak to someone.
- If this is happening in a school environment (whether that be physically in school or virtually), talk to a parent, carer or teacher – they may have no idea that you are being bullied and there will be policies in place to tackle it. There may also be a listening service available to help you such as the one we offer in some certain schools across the Island.
- Never stop reporting. This may be difficult and tiring, but it is important to keep reporting.
You may not think that if you are being bullied, reporting it is doing much to unite against bullying, but we can assure you – it is! By speaking up, you are shining a spotlight on the issue – you are helping to remove the stigma. You may give someone else the confidence to act and address it, or someone close to you who you never knew was being bullied may resonate with what you are saying. You may make someone realise that they are in fact being bullied or, and maybe most importantly, you may be the voice that helps someone realise that their situation and feelings are real and valid.
This Anti-Bullying week lets stand United Against Bullying. If you are struggling with bullying in any form, please speak up to friends, family, teachers, carers – whoever you feel comfortable opening up to.
Let’s stop the stigma and start a conversation about bullying.
Community and Corporate Engagement Coordinator.
Permanent or Part-time pro rata.
This post is pivotal to supporting our planned growth to help us to become the champions of mental health on the Isle of Man from low-level early intervention positive mental health support through our Isle Listen brand, to the more complex needs around cancer and life-changing illnesses through our Minds Matter brand. Reporting to the Head of Marketing, you will ideally be an experienced specialist who will protect, nurture and grow relationships with key supporters and stakeholders.
It’s an exciting time to join our team and make a big difference to a growing charity and the role will suit someone who is passionate about mental health, is able to champion the work of the charity and is enthusiastic and confident about developing relationships and partnerships. Working closely with the senior management team, you will provide strong support in driving community and workplace engagement – creating new income generation opportunities and developing a small but highly motivated volunteer supporter-base. A key part of the role will be working with the wider team to identify ways to showcase the great work we do and how supporters can help us do more of it.
You will already know how to build relationships and engage with supporters – and be able to provide them with appropriate ways to give, to get involved and learn how their support is making a difference. You will be a confident communicator and have excellent relationship management and interpersonal skills and can comfortably network and engage at an appropriate level, understanding when to involve other team members.
- Supporting the senior leadership team in managing relationships with our key stakeholders and supporters.
- Working with the wider Marketing Team to communicate effectively with existing corporate partners, community groups and linked stakeholders.
- Providing content for our external communications via social media, the print press and radio to celebrate our supporters and advertise fundraising events hosted by our supporters.
- Be the main point of contact for all fundraising enquiries, fielding requests, offers of support and escalating to the senior leadership team as appropriate.
- Developing new relationships to achieve growth in income through potential donors and corporate sponsors.
- Recruiting and managing community and workplace volunteers around income generation and social engagement activities.
- Project leading on the organisation and execution of events using the support of the wider team where necessary.
- Attending and, where appropriate, representing the organisation at agreed external events.
- Participating in the development of our CRM database and engagement processes to deliver efficient and timely support to the organisation.
- Reporting on income generation and engagement activity and escalating areas of potential concern/advantage to the senior leadership team.
- Experience in successfully managing relationships with stakeholder groups which may include relationship management or sales experience
- Experience of stewarding and cultivating relationships with stakeholders at all levels, internal and external, and in the Third Sector would be an advantage
- Experience of recruiting new major donors or corporate supporters or cultivating sponsor relationships
- Experience of organising and executing events
- Ability to effectively recruit and manage volunteers to form a mutually beneficial and lasting relationship with the Charity
Want to apply?
Now closed to new applications.
The 13th of November is celebrated annually around the world as World Kindness Day. First established in 1998 by The World Kindness Movement, the day aims to create a kinder world through inspiring individuals and nations to work towards greater kindness, but what actually is kindness? It’s defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate; as a recent Philosophy graduate, my mind instantly went straight to a popular quote from Plato:
“Kindness is more than deeds. It is an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch. It is anything that lifts another person”.
The reason I like this quote is that it moves away from viewing kindness as specific actions and focuses on kindness being an attitude; a characteristic inherent to being a human. So are we safe in saying that humans are naturally kind? Dr Oliver Scott Curry, an anthropologist based at Oxford University, has dedicated his career exploring scientific explanations of why we are kind; his studies have a common trend, this being that we as humans are naturally kind! Now there’s an argument that suggests this is primarily because performing acts of kindness has a positive affect on our wellbeing, which is definitely true. For instance, being kind is known to help reduce stress levels. Having said this, Dr Curry’s work shows that we aren’t just kind to benefit ourselves but because it’s our human instinct to want to see each other succeed and thrive.
This prompted me to think about the way those around me treat me with kindness. Some of the things I’ve listed below:
- My friends giving me little compliments throughout the day, such as telling me my hair looks nice (even when I really disagree).
- My friend recently gave me a beautiful plant she had actually grown herself to have on my desk in the office, completely unprompted but because she knew I’d like it.
- My friend from the UK recently sent me a card with “you are my sunshine” on the front in the post, which was the nicest surprise to come home to.
- My friends giving me random hugs (I’m a big hugger); note this is on the Isle of Man, where we are currently in the privileged position in which we do not have to practice social distancing. Please stay safe and follow social distancing guidelines for where you are!
This probably doesn’t sound like anything revolutionary but to me, these small acts of kindness hold the power to completely change the course of my entire day, week or month. No matter how small or how extravagant an act of kindness is, it is always appreciated even if silently.
Take a quick moment to think about the small things those around you do to treat you with kindness. You may have not considered that your colleague holding the door open for you is an act of kindness, or when your neighbour took your bin to the collection point for you because you forgot the night before. Now think about how these small acts made you feel – Good, right? These very small acts can often have the most impact, without us even realising.
This World Kindness Day I implore you to think about how you treat others with kindness. Consider the small and the big things you do on a daily basis and how your kindness impacts those around you. This might get you thinking that you’ve not done anything kind recently, but have you complimented a friend? Liked a local business’ post on Instagram? Let a stranger go in front of you in the queue for the bus? As mentioned, kindness is integral to who we are as humans, so it’s more than likely you are performing acts of kindness without even realising!
Lastly, it’s also important to consider how we are kind to ourselves! Have you ever noticed how much better we treat other people when we’ve taken care of ourselves? It’s easy to find ourselves overwhelmed with our commitments and subsequently our emotions; but the world often rights itself when we take a moment to breathe, assess what we need and seek it. Please be kind to yourself when you misstep, we’re human and if you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself making mistakes daily. Take a bath, go for a run or even turn your phone off for half an hour. Whatever it is you need to do, be kind to yourself – you’re doing an amazing job.
We’re excited to let you know about KPMG’s Quiz of the Nations in aid of Isle Listen on Friday 20 November 2020 at Woodbourne House, Douglas from 7pm.
As the autumn nights continue to draw in, this is going to be a great night of entertainment, comprising a quiz, games and buffet – all included in the entry fee of £100 – and all in aid of Isle Listen. Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams!
Whether you’re a business or a group of friends, to enter your team of four, email email@example.com.
Mental health and wellbeing is a challenge for businesses across the island. In a recent online poll conducted by YouGov, 74% of people surveyed (4,619 respondents) felt ‘overwhelmed or unable to cope’ in the past year, but what is stress and how does this affect us?
Stress is a natural human response and something that can be helpful to us. At times it can also do some very real damage to both our physical and mental health. The stress response is hard-wired in us all as human beings, and through history has enabled us to survive and flourish as a species. As we moved from early human history into modern day the very responses that allowed us to flee from or fight our way out of danger, have remained with us. The lives we lead today are less about managing life-threatening dangers and more about navigating the world of work, relationships, money and all the other trials that face us in the 21st century.
A whole range of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety, can result from chronic stress. Alongside the physical health problems that include stomach ulcers and even heart conditions that have been linked to stress, this paints a gloomy picture. However, we can take control of our stress and manage our responses by adopting habits that can prevent our stress levels from becoming harmful. We can protect ourselves from the resulting physical and mental health problems by setting some goals and putting a plan into action. Here we suggest six ways that we can manage our stress effectively:
- Identify the causes of your stress. By identifying aspects of our lives that lead to a build-up of stress, we can find ways to minimise the impact and take back some control. Whether it is financial worries, a difficult relationship or a tricky time at work, look at what you can change about that situation.
- Take some exercise. The benefits to our physical health are well known, but exercise is also hugely beneficial to our mental wellbeing. Walking, swimming and cycling are fantastic ways to boost our wellbeing. Getting back into or starting any exercise or sport that interests you can bring great health benefits, help you to feel better about yourself, feel more confident and reduce your stress levels.
- Look after your diet. Stressful periods in your life might result in overeating or skipping meals or reaching for foods and drinks that will give you an instant boost. Keep an eye on what you are eating and how often and make some adjustments.
- Get involved with something social. Join a group, go out with friends, spend time with your family and get connected.
- Do something that makes you feel joyful such as spending time on creative activities, art, music, crafting, gardening, games, sharing a joke, reading a book.
- Talk to someone. Sharing our worries or concerns with a trusted friend, partner or colleague can often be enough to help, but there are times when we might need professional help. There are lots or government services, charities and organisations on the Isle of Man who can help. Learn more here.
Want to know more about how we can help you or your business?
Mental health awareness training is a key part of our wish to remove the stigma surrounding mental health and empowering employers and their workforce to feel emotionally and effectively supported with their wellbeing.
Our next full day Wellbeing First Aid course is coming up on 1st December so BOOK NOW.
Isle Listen is thrilled to announce an unprecedented 3-year funding collaboration with the Z Zurich Foundation and Zurich International in a joint drive to provide mental wellbeing education, prevention and transformative early intervention on the Isle of Man.
The Z Zurich Foundation (the Foundation) is a charitable foundation funded by various members of the Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich). They aim to create transformative change in the lives of more than 1 million vulnerable people and positively impact the lives of 10 million others by the year 20241.
The grant is in recognition of the Foundation and Isle Listen’s shared vision to promote positive mental health for the whole Island, help remove the stigma surrounding mental health and improve access to psychological support services.
The funding will enable the Isle Listen team to reach out to the entire school and college population of the Isle of Man over the next three years – approximately 15,000 students and over 1,000 people working within the education sector – as well as supporting employers and delivering community-wide campaigns and resources.
It will also facilitate the expansion of its one-to-one listening service within schools, provision of a mobile art therapy vehicle to provide outreach therapeutic services to those who might not be able to access them and expand the service further to support potential waiting lists in statutory services.
Zurich has a long association with promoting good mental health, most recently launching an online Wellbeing Toolkit2 to provide support to the community during the Covid-19 pandemic. Locally, Zurich International was already working with Isle Listen to offer mental health awareness sessions.
Andrea Chambers, Isle Listen Chief Executive said, “We can’t thank the Z Zurich Foundation enough for their support and confidence in us to help put the key building blocks in place for our future plans and operation.”
“While there is a growing awareness of the importance of positive mental health and wellbeing on the Island, there are still many issues in identifying those who require support and, even when this is recognised, there can be long waiting lists for therapy and treatment.
“By providing education, prevention and early intervention we aim to alleviate pressure on the statutory health services and to avoid the unnecessary escalation of mental health problems which can make recovery more difficult the longer they are undiagnosed. The Foundation’s support means that we can accelerate our programmes and make a difference much more quickly.”
Gary Shaughnessy, Chair of the Z Zurich Foundation said, “With Isle Listen, we aim to change behaviours and attitudes around mental wellbeing. Together, we want this programme to drive positive mental health across schools, workplaces and community groups, and give young people the tools and motivation to take care of themselves.”
Nigel Simpson, Head of International Markets at Zurich International in the Isle of Man said, “As an organisation and employer, we understand that wellbeing and mental health is just as important as physical health. We look forward to helping Isle Listen accomplish their ambitious aims of equipping young people with the self-management skills to navigate the psychological challenges of 21st century life. We firmly believe that Isle Listen has the potential to create a unique and innovative blueprint for mental health therapeutic services that will benefit other small islands or communities.”
Since the start of this school year in September, Isle Listen has already delivered 26 student educational sessions in schools with another 26 booked and workplace training to more than 400 teachers and employees via webinars or classroom-based learning.
- Z Zurich Foundation: www.zurich.foundation/en
- Zurich Wellbeing: www.zurichinternational.com/im/employee-well-being/
Pictured Left to Right – Annabel Chambers, Isle Listen Project Lead, Ruth Adamson, Learning & Talent Development Consultant, Zurich International, Nigel Simpson, Head of International Markets at Zurich International, Andrea Chambers, Chief Executive, Isle Listen.
Isle Listen is a trading name of MCH Psychological Services and is a charitable initiative that operates under the clinical guidance of MCH Psychological Services, an Isle of Man registered charity with over 35 years’ experience of providing emotional and psychological support to people and their families living with cancer and other life-changing conditions.
MCH Psychological Services is an Isle of Man registered charity number 1024.
MCH Psychological Services was formerly known as The Lisa Lowe Centre and Manx Cancer Help.
Recent research in the UK has shown a need for urgent action among the younger generation with one in eight 5-19 year olds displaying a mental health problem. It is estimated that 50% of all adult mental health problems have already developed by the age of 14, and 75% by the age of 24. Source: UK Mental Health Foundation, 2018
Z Zurich Foundation
Z Zurich Foundation (the Foundation) is a charitable foundation with registered office in Zurich established by Zurich Insurance Company Ltd and Zurich Life Insurance Company Ltd in accordance with Swiss law.
It is the main vehicle by which the Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) delivers on its global community investment strategy.
The Z Zurich Foundation aims to support a fairer, more open and sustainable society by empowering vulnerable people within its communities to better protect themselves from risk, and to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world.
It focuses its efforts on three powerful and relevant topics of today’s societal challenges: adapting to climate change, improving mental well-being and enabling social equity, by funding grant programs in collaboration with Zurich’s business units and charities worldwide and by developing Zurich employee engagement initiatives. As of today, the Foundation supports about 30 local grant programs worldwide.
The Z Zurich Foundation also funds the ‘Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance,’ a multi-sector cooperation, which focuses on finding practical ways to help communities in developed and developing countries strengthen their resilience to flood risk.
Zurich International Life is a part of Zurich Insurance Group and fully authorised under the Isle of Man Insurance Act 2008 and is regulated by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority, which ensures the company has sound and professional management and provision has been made to protect plan holders.
Zurich International Pensions Administration Limited is registered with the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority as a Professional Schemes Administrator under the Isle of Man Retirement Benefits Schemes Act 2000. Registered in the Isle of Man number 132210C.
This year, the world has changed. Around the globe, people were asked to stay at home, only leave for essentials, attend virtual school or work from home, distance ourselves from other people, wear masks and wash our hands. For some, they lost loved ones, missed exams, missed proms, missed graduations, cancelled weddings. It is understandable then, that in the UK, stress, anxiety and depression levels soared. Our sleep was affected, we exercised less, and ate worse. Our consumption of alcohol increased. Other factors came to a head, like loss of our support networks, loss of income or work and closure of facilities. Young people were hit particularly hard. It all paints a pretty grim picture; some studies suggest half a million more people might experience mental ill health in the UK as a result of Covid-19.
Here on the Isle of Man, these kinds of restrictions didn’t last for as long as our neighbours in the UK. We consider ourselves lucky, and it feels a bit like a strange film scene we’re watching from afar. But we still talk about it. In our office, it’s a common topic of discussion; when will the borders open, so we can see loved ones, go on holiday, go Christmas shopping. In my house, we’ve just sent my sister off to university for her final year – she’s someone who is deemed high risk. We don’t know when we’ll see her again.
Despite all of this, as a human collective, we’ve managed. We were resilient – we quickly moved schools and work online. We organised virtual pub quizzes and virtual date nights. We started to work out by following online videos. We found new recipes and started cooking or baking. Many of us found a new hobby. We found ways to connect in a time where it seemed impossible. We’ve learnt how to talk about our boundaries and respect each other’s more than ever before. We adapted to lockdown, we adapted to each new set of restrictions, and we’ll keep adapting for as long as we need too. The fact we can do that is something to be proud of. This World Mental Health Day, it’s something to be celebrated, however we choose to do it.
The goal for this year’s campaign is increased investment in mental health. We’ve seen how important it is – many of us will have experienced fear, worry, sadness, and stress in a way we simply might not have before. At Isle Listen, we’re passionate about early intervention and prevention in mental health – that means, we intervene before it’s a diagnosable condition, help people learn techniques to manage their mental health, to help prevent them from getting worse and becoming a diagnosable mental health condition. People can access us at the point of need, rather than a point of availability. Statutory mental health services are government funded but work primarily at the point someone has a diagnosable condition and are chronically underfunded compared to physical health services. We need further investment in our mental health services, to ensure people get the help they need, when they need it. This World Mental Health Day, do what you can: have a coffee with a friend, organise a trip out, donate if you have the means, reach out for support if you need it. Be proud of this year, even though it’s been different to what we’ve expected.