It’s time to talk about mental health

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Today is the first ever Time to Talk Day. Organised by the brilliant Time to Change, the largest programme in England tackling the stigma and discrimination often associated with mental health, run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. Time to Talk aims to start conversations around mental health, raise awareness and share the message that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, and neither is talking about it.

For inspiration on how you can get involved – have a look at the Time to Talk events page that lists everything going on in your area. There’s loads happening online too, keep up to date via Twitter and #TimetoTalk for all the latest information. If you head over to the Rethink Mental Illness Facebook page at 2.00pm-3.00pm today, you could also have a live web chat with the very inspiring Jonny Benjamin, who recently made the headlines with his #FindMike campaign, where Jonny got to say thanks to the man that saved his life.

Every small conversation helps…

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Would you know what to do in an emergency?

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If someone suddenly became ill and went into cardiac arrest, would you know what to do next? For many of us, the answer is no. Around 60,000 people have a cardiac arrest outside of hospital every year in the UK. The sad reality is, less than 10% go onto survive. Yet, if a bystander is able to start CPR, this can double a person’s chances of survival.

Lifesaver is the fantastic, free resource from The Resuscitation Council that could help to save many, many lives. It acts as a crisis simulator, using live action and real-life scenarios that rely on your interactive moves and quick action to show what to do in an emergency and how to use CPR.

You really do learn as you go. If you do it wrong, you will be shown what you need to do instead. You also use your keypad to start CPR and it tells you if you need to go faster or slower. Do it right and you can make a real difference to your online victim’s life. It’s very clever stuff and is quite a thrilling experience too.

It’s available for computers and as an iPad app, iPhone app, Android tablet app and Android phone app.

Did I mention it’s free? Please download and learn – you never know when you might need this knowledge.

Get heart healthy (and watch the salt)

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As it’s National Heart Month and I seem to be writing an awful lot about salt at the moment, I thought it was high time I whipped up a timely blog post on the topic.

Every day, 26 million of us are eating too much salt and as 75% of the salt we eat is already added to a variety of manufactured foods: we may be eating more than we realise.

The top salty food culprits are: cheese, certain breakfast cereals, processed meat (ham, bacon), stock cubes, sauces, gravy granules, bread, bread products, salted nuts and potato-based snacks.

A diet high in salt can cause high blood pressure (hypertension), which often has no symptoms. Hypertension affects one in three adults in the UK. If you have high blood pressure, this can increase the risk of stroke and heart problems developing.

Making small changes can help to lower blood pressure. Instead of adding salt when preparing meals, add flavour to food using herbs, spices, wine, vinegar, garlic, onion, lemon and lime juice. Reducing the number of processed foods and ready meals you eat will also help.

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Brighten up on Blue Monday

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If you want to avoid feeling too down in the dumps on Blue Monday (Monday 21st January), wear bright clothes, Mental Health Research UK advises.

January as a whole can be a month when many of us feel pretty miserable, yet researchers claim that the third Monday of January is the most depressing day of the year. This is due to bad weather, reduced daylight, debt, the need for Christmas detox and poor motivation.

MHRUK hopes to brighten up Britain with its campaign, Blooming Monday. The charity aims to raise awareness of depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and hopes to encourage people participating in brightening up their attire for the day to donate £2 to MHRUK to fund research into treatments.

If you’re wearing bright colours on Monday and want to make a voluntary difference, you can donate £2 to MHRUK by texting BLOO22 to 70070.

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Ladies: let’s talk common concerns (down there)

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For many women, going to the doctors can be an embarrassing prospect – especially if the problem you have is of a somewhat intimate nature. It’s no surprise then that a recent study found a quarter of British women have turned to the internet for advice on treatments rather than seeking medical opinion.

Whilst the internet is good for most things, when it comes to your health, the web can sometimes be more of a hindrance. By self-medicating you may join the one in ten women who end up with unpleasant side effects as a result of a misdiagnosis. Below are three of the most common concerns women tend to encounter with advice on what to do if they affect you.

Cystitis

Probably one of the most well known women’s health issues, cystitis affects approximately half of all women in the UK. Whilst there are no blanket symptoms, most women will suffer with pain when urinating, a strong smelling and dark coloured urine and an urge to urinate frequently. Cystitis can also lead to vaginal irritation which is where remedies such as Canesten will come in handy. Ensure you drink plenty of water and urinate regularly as this will also help to effectively prevent this issue.

Bladder Weakness

Due to its highly sensitive nature, thousands of women just assume bladder weakness is something that is just part of normal life and something they have to put up with – it isn’t! There are products and remedies that will make suffering with this a breeze such as Tena pads. It is also important to note that reaching for your normal sanitary products just won’t do the trick. This is because urine is thinner and comes out in larger quantities – you need something that will be able to cope with this.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

This is sometimes mistaken for thrush and so many women will simply reach for a thrush treatment though this won’t effectively combat the symptoms of BV. When a woman is suffering from BV, her discharge will be clear and fishy smelling. Though antibiotics are the best remedy for this problem, products such as Balance Activ Vaginal Gel will also help to relieve some of the discomfort and neutralise the odour of discharge.

Don’t suffer in silence, get help today with some of life’s more intimate problems!

Please note: this is a guest blog post from Mistry’s Pharmacy

 

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Talking summer SAD

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While most of us are craving more sunshine and blue skies, summertime can be one of despair for the estimated 600,000 people affected by summer or reverse SAD in the UK.

Seasonal affective disorder is more commonly known as a wintertime condition, where the shortened days and decreased sun exposure cause symptoms of depression. Summer SAD is simply the reverse of this.

Symptoms include: increased sense of heat at night, agitation, restlessness, insomnia, reduced appetite and a general feeling of being miserable, often for no reason. You may also experience a sense of not enjoying what are usually pleasurable activities.

I’ve recently written a piece on summer SAD for the current issue of the Depression Alliance’s membership magazine Single Step. As part of the piece, I spoke to Ricky and Julia, two people who fantastically illustrated just how difficult life in the summer months can be for those affected.

Some tips that can help to minimise the effects of summer SAD include: using black-out curtains, opening windows at night, avoiding bright light, having frequent cooling showers, taking an ice-cold water bottle or cooling blanket to bed and exercising regularly.

For more information on the causes, expert insight, further tips and Ricky and Julia’s stories – take a look at my piece.

If you would like to commission me to write a piece for you, do get in touch

Get ovarian cancer savvy

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Ovarian cancer
kills a woman every two hours in the UK. Almost 7,000 women are diagnosed with the disease every year. Most shockingly, UK women are MORE likely than other European women to be diagnosed only when the cancer has spread. The reason? A lack of awareness of the symptoms, which makes the advanced disease harder to treat.

Recognise the symptoms…

* Persistent stomach pain

* Persistent bloating or increased stomach size

* Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly

* Needing to wee more frequently

If you experience any of these symptoms, they may not signal ovarian cancer, but it is vitally important you see your GP at the earliest opportunity to rule it out.

 On Sunday 1st July, Ovarian Cancer Action wants people all over the nation to flash their teal knickers to raise awareness of the disease and raise funds for the charity – by taking part in Walkathong. Go for a sponsored Walkathong walk or show your support by making a donation (£10 or more), contacting the charity for a pair of snazzy teal Walkathong knickers and simply slipping them over your clothes. All you need to do is wear your pretty panties for two hours or more and you’ll help to raise awareness and get people talking. Finally, make sure you take a picture and email to the Walkathong team.