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second hand september v2

Wellbeing Wednesday – 15 September 2021

Jane Fowler

Jane Fowler – Head of Customer Support Service

Hi everyone and welcome to this week’s Wellbeing Wednesday. It feels as if we are well into autumn now, with the leaves turning and the temperature dropping. I hope some of you are going to manage an autumn break – we all know how important getting a break from work is for our wellbeing. And it is beneficial for our work and colleagues too when we come back refreshed and re-energised! I mentioned before about being a recent tentative convert to road cycling and so am really excited to be planning my own autumn break – a trip to Mallorca in October to cycle… Fun or foolish? We will have to wait and see 😉

This week we are covering Second Hand September, a great book review and, by way of an update on last week’s suicide prevention awareness, we have a musical message from a talented colleague. Second Hand September is such a great initiative – care for the environment, look after your financial wellbeing and also an option to support charities – what is not to like?! Thanks to Julie Hallett, one of our Wellbeing Advisors, for her book review this week – a sensitive and poignant exploration of mental health and one that links closely to last week’s topic, with insight into how someone who is depressed or suicidal may be feeling. And lastly, again linked to this important area, we highlight a very talented colleague in our Community Learning Team who has written and recorded a song about normalising the conversations about mental health that many of us find so difficult. Thank you Jamie Titterton. See you all next week.

Second Hand September

Throughout September, Oxfam are encouraging us to pledge to buy only used or pre-loved items and to consider donating pre-loved items to charity.

Mass production of textiles and the impact of throwing them away is damaging to the environment and to us, as the health of our environment has a direct impact on our quality of life and emotional wellbeing. Small changes like this can really make a difference and your local charity shops or Oxfam online shop are a great place to start.

There are also lots of online re-sale platforms and organisations that provide the opportunity to buy and donate whilst making a contribution to charity.  Sites such as Thrift + and Re-fashion also provide an opportunity to buy and donate second hand designer and high street clothing.

Buying second hand also enables you to both spend less and buy higher quality for less so that’s a tick in the financial wellbeing box too!

The Boy Between - Amanda Prowse and Josiah Hartley

Book review by Julie Hallett

Bestselling novelist Amanda Prowse has teamed up with her son Josh, to write a moving and insightful account of their struggle, as a family, with Josh’s deteriorating mental health.

Nineteen year-old Josh found his world turning upside down after he went away to university and developed severe and debilitating depression. Although there had been warning signs that things were not quite right, Josh insisted he was fine to those around him, despite the fact his mental health was rapidly deteriorating to the point where was planning to take his own life and had purchased “suicide pills” over the internet.  Due to an unannounced visit from his step-father, thankfully Josh was prevented from taking the pills and returned home where he slowly started to recover, despite some major set-backs along the way.

I found this book particularly affecting as I also had a son away at university when I read this and he was not particularly happy there at the time.  The dilemma of trying to be supportive and available when needed, while also trying to encourage independence and allowing your child to make their own decisions (even bad ones!) and respecting their privacy was something that resonated deeply with me.  Like Amanda, I didn’t always get this right and I completely related to her experience and the constant worry of a parent to try and ensure you are doing the right thing for your child, even if that sometimes means doing nothing.

Josh’s experiences also highlight the fact that university is not always the right choice for young people and there are many other options available which may be more suitable and which do not have the same pressures (and which do not lead to an accumulation of debt).  Although many young people thrive at university, for some it is not a positive experience and being away from home for the first time can be extremely stressful and can lead to feelings of guilt that they are not having a great time, especially when their parents may have struggled financially to support them going there.

I found Josh’s description of what he was going through extremely moving and insightful and certainly gave me a better understanding of depression, particularly in a young man.  It was very positive to see Josh work through his illness and although depression continues to affect his life, he has learned how to cope with it much more effectively.

Depression and mental illness are frequently misunderstood, especially amongst young people, many of whom find it difficult to speak about, and I was particularly shocked at the statistics quoted in the book regarding student suicide. 

This book describes the painful experiences of a young man’s struggle with mental illness and the impact it had on his family, up to the point of his recovery and the family’s renewed hope for the future.  It is not always an easy read, but it may help to understand what someone close to you may be going through and how you can help.

If you or someone close to you is suffering from depression – do seek help and advice, you are not alone.  There are numerous support services out there but a good place to start is the MIND website. 

World Suicide Prevention Day

Following on from last week’s suicide presentation day feature, we have been contacted with the news that Jamie Titterton, Community Learning Worker will be releasing a song for World Suicide Prevention Day through his band ‘Jacob and the Starry Eyed Shadows’.

It’s called Talk Me Down and Jamie’s aim is to normalise conversations about mental health. All proceeds are directly going towards suicide prevention work (in conjunction with the Argyll and Bute Suicide Prevention Group). For more information visit the suicide prevention group webpage or united to prevent suicide website.

Please also let us know your thoughts and ideas about the items featured in our Wellbeing Wednesdays each week and send us your suggestions for future topics – we love to hear from you.

The Wellbeing Team:  wellbeing@argyll-bute.gov.uk