Image for Walking with the Wounded News - World Mental Health Day 2020 Twitter Takeover Q&A / (WMHD Q&A PT.1
 - WMHD Q&A PT.1
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World Mental Health Day 2020 Twitter Takeover Q&A

WWTW Head Start Therapist, Emma McDonald, answers all your mental health questions


Last week, WWTW hosted Twitter Takeover in relation to World Mental Health Day. WWTW mental health therapist, Emma McDonald answered questions on a range of topics including, how to keep mentally fit, what type of support is available for veterans, and what techniques you can use to relax your mind and promote self-compassion. 

Q. How do you support someone with complex PTSD?

A. The first thing is to listen, to be non-judgemental and initially try not to jump in to solve the problem. If the person opens up reinforce this to encourage it again, using statement such as ‘thank you for sharing that’, ‘I’m pleased you spoke to me today’.

If the person is struggling with flashbacks you can help them to learn skills to come out of the flashbacks into the present to reduce stress. You can find resources for that here and information about Grounding Exercises here.

If the person is struggling with low mood, encourage them to engage with activities that will give them a sense of achievement, enjoyment and connectedness ex: participation in low energy/easy activities together, inviting them to activities.

Q. How do you keep mentally fit?

A. To stay mentally fit we need to have regular self-check ins e.g. weekly. Check-ins help to identify symptoms of distress early and to prevent them from worsening.

During these check ins, which could be done independently or with a friend ask yourself ‘How has my mood/anxiety been?’, or ‘How would I rate my distress this week?’. Here is a resource to rate your distress.

Develop a range of coping skills, here’s some self-help guides to help; in you check-ins also ask, ‘Have I been using my skills or do I need to practice the use of these skills more?’.

Q. Can you recommend any coping mechanisms to look after mental health during Covid-19?

A. Yes certainly! Firstly try to stay connected to people even if it is via telephone/text or video calls. Maybe arrange a quiz night via video with friends. Being connected to others helps improve our mood.

Keep fit and active, for many physical activity may have reduced, get the happiness chemicals of Dopamine, Oxytocin and Endorphins going again by increasing exercise, even if it’s only a few more steps pacing around the house or walking up/down the street!

For anxious thoughts/catastrophising thoughts ask yourself; what is the worst, best and then most realistic scenario, then rate each scenario with a % of how likely the scenario is to actually occur. You can also ask a friend to rate the % estimates as well if you like.

Q. What mental health support is available for Veterans?

A. There are helplines for veterans to call such as Combat Stress 0800 138 1619 (24hrs).

TILS (NHS Veterans assessment/signposting). This can be done by contacting the service directly, or by asking a GP or a military charity to refer you. To contact TILS directly visit this website

WWTW Head Start programme offers timely access to therapies in your locality including Counselling, CBT and EMDR, access is via TILS.

Q. Have you seen an increase in demand for mental health support over the past few months?

A. We have seen an increase, in particular I’ve noticed increases in people presenting with PTSD, depression, alcohol/drug abuse. I encourage people due to service demands/wait times, recognise symptoms early as you can and reach out to us, you do matter.

Q. Is there more employers should consider when it comes to the emotional wellbeing and mental health of employees during this time?

A. This is important, mental health conversations and support be provided in workplace settings. Employers should consider Mental Health First Aid training to raise awareness of mental health and assist early identification of employee mental health difficulties.

It would be helpful if employers could talk openly with their employees about their mental health and discuss factors that may help them manage their work e.g. flexible working, regular short breaks if concentration is affected, work aids e.g. A to-do list if memory is affected.