As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, University of Bedfordshire PhD student and Founder of Our Minds Matter Jolel Miah, talks about his views on mental health promotion and gives advice to anyone struggling with their own.
Tell Us A Bit About You…
I currently work in a variety of settings such as research, practice, strategic and in the voluntary sector. The roles I currently hold are;
I am a big fan of a balance between research, practice and strategy and policy; you need to find a good combination to make things work. Furthermore, I would emphasise doing charity work as its good for your conscious, keeps you motivated and keeps your mind healthy.
Do You Think Enough is Being Done to Promote and Support Mental Health?
The simple answer would be no but if you ask me has it got it better. We are so behind in promoting mental health.
If you compare the way physical health is promoted such as stopping smoking or eating healthily, there is nowhere near the same level of promotion. This is where our charity comes in, and focuses on prevention as opposed to short-term intervention. For me, prevention is the long-term intervention.
Let me make this clear: mental health and mental illness are two different things, everyone has mental health but not everyone has a mental illness. People suffer from mental health just like they do with physical health (e.g., cold, cut, sniffles, etc.).
If you want to know more about mental health, I advise going to the NHS website and the national charity, MIND, or alternatively you can visit our charity. In short, there is plenty of help out there and I have come across amazing individuals who work in public services to make us feel and cope better.
What Is Our Minds Matter?
We are a charity focused on promoting mental health in the diverse communities of Luton. Our team consists of individuals who have either professional or personal experience in the field of mental health. We understand the challenges that community leaders, health service providers, employers, commissioners and stakeholders are facing when reaching out to the diverse communities.
With several partnerships in place and many in the making, Our Minds Matter is quickly becoming a leading name in mental health and wellbeing in Luton. With the NHS, Recovery College and Luton Council of Faiths (to name a few) supporting our work, we aim to go from strength to strength.
There was not anyone in my community that studied Psychology at postgrad level and so by the time I’d finished my masters, a lot of people came and sought advice about particular situations so I would share what I know and on most occasions, I would signpost.
Suddenly this expanded into wider faith communities and I ended up delivering seminars in mosques, churches and even a temple. I noticed a lot of people were suffering in silence and some even refused help. I decided to team up with people from social care, education, public health and finance to start an organisation which aimed to promote mental health through delivering health education whilst acknowledging peoples’ faith and cultural backgrounds.
Currently, I am using Health Psychology with fellow professionals to develop wellbeing programmes in faith and communities groups to prevent suicide, self-harm and the long-term impact of mental illness.
What is Psychologyapps?
Learning about Health Psychology and how it can be used in modern technology has always been an interest of mine and so I started a small project in my spare time. Psychologyapps is a platform where apps are reviewed from a psychological perspective, particularly around behaviour change.
I have more than 1000 hours of clinical experience which has been accumulated advising people on making lifestyle improvements in a variety of settings and in a variety of different circumstances. I realised that a lot of clients were using mobile apps to help manage and promote health such as healthy eating, drinking and stopping smoking. I found it difficult to refer them to apps as there so many, so a thought came into my head why not start a review website which looks at apps from a psychology perspective?
It’s early days and we have a long way to go and hopefully, this is one for the future.
What Advice Would You Give to Anyone Dealing with Mental Health Issues?
Everyone has mental health but we don’t deal or manage it the same way, my clear advice is to find your own way with the support of others. For those of you experiencing mental health difficulties, get help now through your local mental wellbeing service (you can get this from the NHS website or speak to your GP). Also, think about what advice you would give if someone else was in your shoes.
For long term well being, there are many charities who are now promoting the five ways to wellbeing and these are:
Be physically active, do exercise, go for a walk, and take up a sport you enjoy. Be active in your choices and plan ahead when you can.
Learn about yourself, your environment, learnt something new, allow your brain to make new connections.
Socialise with old and new friends, talk to your colleagues and neighbours, spend quality time with family and surprise them – by doing this, you will make yourself and others feel good and this will give you a boost of energy.
Appreciate your environment and those around you, listen to the wind, let the rain fall on your skin, watch the colours of leafs change, mindfulness is a powerful tool!
This can be charity work, or helping others, offer people a smile, and share your knowledge and talents. It’s a brilliant way of developing your own skills
On a final note of advice, I know it can be hard but remember you are not alone, you are loved and cared for, give yourself a chance always, it's never too late…
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