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Mental Health Awareness Week – an article by Kieron Lee

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I am writing this article for Anna Kennedy Online, to raise the much-needed awareness for Mental Health, this week, and every week. It is no secret that I have a diagnosis of Autism, ADHD as well as a Mixed Anxiety and Depressive disorder. You can imagine, that managing all of these is extremely difficult.

 

For years I have struggled with severe mental health issues; in 2018 I attempted suicide by taking an overdose, there have been similar events like this before. At the time I felt empty yet full of emotions that I just could not bear, I would describe autism and emotions like “Superman and Kryptonite;” emotions are my Kryptonite. I often question and have never quite understood the reasoning behind my sometimes-erratic response to events that have occurred throughout my life.

 

The way I feel is often overwhelming, I have strong feelings that lead to me being very emotional, almost like an empath is how I would describe it. Sometimes the world just gets too much, and I just need to come off it for a bit.

 

In times when I feel so low, I have my mother, who has honestly been my biggest supporter, critique, best friend, and rock that constantly holds me to the ground when I lose a sense of gravity. I have a lot of friends and even family that weren’t/are not lucky enough to have the relationship with their mum that I do with mine, and I will forever be so lucky for that.

 

Weeks when I do not feel so great you best believe I am able to write the best lyrical content, the ability to do that makes me feel so much lighter. I often “meditate” with the piano and a beautiful chord progression which is so soothing for the mind. Also, getting stuck into coursework really helps! But it is honestly, the love for music and the people that I am so lucky to have around me that keeps me strong.

 

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I met the wonderful Anna and team back in 2016 whilst we were working on our superb charity album “Building Bridges”, which was a significant and memorable time in my life. Since then, I have continued to support and work with the charity.

 

Anna and all the team have played a huge part in shaping the person I have become today, and I could not be more thankful for the opportunities that have been given to me through Anna Kennedy Online, and their amazing work and I feel so proud to be a part of the AKO family. I am aware of the progress and huge difference that I have made.

 

If I can do it, you can too! Never give up. 

I would like to encourage everyone to spread love and positivity in a world that really needs it. Especially right now. I also ask that you try to be the best advocate for mental health that you possibly can be. Be super thankful for your neighbours, thankful for your friends and family. Most importantly be thankful for yourself and know that you have huge value. Try to appreciate the little things in life as much as you can even when you feel like it is impossible. Stay strong. Reach out when you need it. You are not alone.

 

For more information on mental health services, please visit: https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/mental-health-services/

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Setting Healthy Boundaries…

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An article by our Well-being Ambassador Giuliana Wheater

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Hello everyone,

We all get those days, don’t we , when as parents we are only human and meltdowns, overwhelm and outbursts of screaming and shouting really get to us . It pulls our hearts to pieces seeing our child communicating such frustration, anger or hurt.

We are always feeling that we could have done something to prevent it , could be doing more or better , and occasionally just hitting that meltdown ourselves .

All behaviour is communication but it can nevertheless be very hard to be that ship’s mast in a tsunami of emotion.

When you feel yourself become simply overwhelmed by it all , feeling like you need the space away from it too because you feel like crying, screaming and telling yourself , please know that all these feelings are normal .

Do not beat yourself up over it.

We all need to take a step back and breathe sometimes.

So what sort of things can we say when our child has just exploded and you all need that step away ?

Here are a few ideas that I’ve tried and have been really effective at times , both as a mother and also within schools or my private sessions.

  1. It’s ok to be upset but not to say hurtful things.
  2. It sounds like you need a bit of space. I am going to wait to listen to you when you’ve finished yelling.
  3. Could you please lower your voice/tone so that I can understand you ?
  4. Could you try to say it in a different way please?
  5. I hear and understand that you’re upset right now but it’s not ok for you to talk to me like this .
  6. Let’s take a break from our conversation for now and come back to it when you’re calmer.

In the meantime here are some strategies that your child might like to do during the “cooling off” to help them process these big emotions in a healthier way whilst still acknowledging them .

And to try to regulate those big emotions BEFORE they build up to meltdown, here is a small fun daily workout which will also get they all important serotonin and dopamine going!!

I really hope this goes some way to helping the whole family.

Take care everyone and see you next week.

Lots of love, Giuliana

https://www.therapiesforspecialneeds.co.uk/

https://youtube.com/@giulianawheaterrainbowkids6329

https://www.facebook.com/groups/482455567249684/?ref=share_group_link

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Antibullying Week – yet the effects of bullying can last a lifetime…

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An article by our Well-being Ambassador Giuliana Wheater and her video!

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What is bullying?

What can we do about it?

Bullying is HUGELY on the rise, amongst young people in particular , especially since Covid.

Cyber bullying has become a significant part of that .

So much increased time on screens and the enforced of human contact have a definite part to play in this as figures have SOARED in the last couple of years.

Last week I touched on a little of the horrific cyberbullying I recently endured, but the number of young people who are filling my sessions at the moment are full of the most hurtful, humiliating, damaging stories of their own . Being bullied as a child is even scarier, and as a neurodivergent child almost impossible to navigate .

Victims are often too terrified to speak out for fear of further retribution .

Yet as adults we really do need to be aware and schools need to have firm anti bullying policies and be made to walk their talk in seeing them through .

In England and Wales you can receive a criminal record from the age of 10.

In some states of America it is from the age of 7.

Bullying is any or all of the following :

  1. Calling names or teasing.
  2. Being put down or humiliated.
  3. Being threatened or intimidated.
  4. Being kicked, hit of physically hurt.
  5. Spreading rumours or using degrading/humiliating photos or information with the intent to harm. Spreading harmful stories.
  6. Trying to control or manipulate someone
  7. Setting up fake online profiles to stalk and/or harass.
  8. Taking away/messing about with someone’s money or possessions .
  9. Following/stalking someone.
  10. Ignoring someone of leaving them out.
  11. Making fun of someone.

Remember that cyber bullying is even easier to gain evidence for and the police have a duty to act.

All you need are 2 examples of harassment, stalking or the posting of malicious/untrue rumours or lies or using blackmail… and everything is retrievable even if the bully deletes it .

High Tech Police Units can retrieve it all.

As I say in this week’s YouTube video, a bully is someone who sees the potential in you which you can’t see”.

Walking away from/turning a blind eye is as bad as condoning it.

Filming it on your phone to circulate it makes you even worse .

Just remember that we are all human beings with stories and journeys inside us.

I will leave you with this ; they are all people I personally know or know of …

“The boy you punched in the hall today. He committed suicide a few minutes ago.

The boy you called lame has to work every night to supper his family.

The girl you pushed down the stairs the other day is already being abused at home.

The girl you called fat. She is starving herself.

The old man you made fun of because of his ugly scars. He fought for our country.

The boy you made fun of for crying. his mother is dying.”

Bullying will not suddenly end on Sunday.

Bullying is 365 days a year, and for many victims a loving purgatory which can lead go self-harm, severe depression and even suicide in later life.

Do you really want that on your conscience?

We need more awareness, more kindness, more humanity.

Let’s take that strong message away from this week if nothing else.

Take care everyone, Lots of love, Giuliana xx

https://www.therapiesforspecialneeds.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/482455567249684/?ref=share_group_link

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rainbowtherapieskidsandfamilies/?ref=share_group_link

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Cyber bullying, the law and how to protect yourself and your mental health

 

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An article by our Well-being Ambassador Giuliana Wheater and her video!

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Cyber bullying is massively on the rise and very prevalent in our society now, particularly since Covid.

It is now estimated that a huge 42% of young people aged 25 and under are, or have recently been, cyber bullied.

Before I begin giving you strategies to help you protect yourself if this is happening to you or someone you love , I would first like to thank you all with every part of me for having been so patient whilst I have been “away”.

I have recently been a victim of cyber bullying and trolling myself.

The effect on my work but also my mental health has been immense .

During this time I have also been completely inundated with emails and client sessions where people are being cyber bullied.

It is rife.

It is horrific if you are neurotypical but even harder to navigate if you are autistic/ neurodivergent.

So, I feel I have been given this painful chapter to walk as a learning …

And this learning I now want to share with you so that you know what to do of this ever happens to you , and to know that this very cowardly form of bullying is not only unacceptable but carries consequences within the law .

Incredibly there is no law directly relating to cyber bullying within the UK.

However the one enormous benefit of cyber bullying is that absolutely everything, even if the perpetrator deletes it, leaves a digital footprint.

This makes evidence for the police much easier to pursue than verbal or face to face bullying .

As I explain in this week’s video, Cyber Bullying includes trolling , setting up fake profiles (cyber fraud ), stalking , harassment , deliberately sharing threatening of harmful messages/information, maliciously attacking or harassing someone, or “baiting online “ (using the internet to deliberately provoke get a rise out of others)

It also includes “mounting a full on hateful attack that wreaks havoc on your mental health “.

And these offences ARE punishable by laws.

So how can you keep yourself or your child safe?

Firstly, keep a timeline of each event including screenshot evidence.

The police only need TWO pieces of evidence to open a case.

If someone is using a fake email address or fake Facebook profile, this comes under Cyber Fraud as well as stalking and harassment, which ARE punishable within UK laws.

There are now new trolling laws in place due to the virulent rise in this offence.

There are also other laws to protect you and within which the police have a duty to act.

The Malicious Communications Act of 1988 and the Communications Act of 2003. Offences under this act carry a prison sentence of up to 6 months , a fine of up to £5000 , or both.

“It is an offence for any person to send or post a communication that is indecent or offensive for the purpose of causing distress or anxiety to another.”

The Act also includes “threats and information which is false and known to be false by the sender of this communication.”

Criminal offences have been added to the Online Safety Bill too for those who deliberately share threatening or harmful messages / information/posts . This carries up to 5 years imprisonment.

Protection from Harassment Act 1997

“It is a criminal offence for a person to pursue a code of conduct which amounts to the harassment of another with the intention of causing harm or distress on at least two occasions.”

Section 4 of this Act “provides greater punishment to those found guilty of causing another person to fear on at least two occasions.”

So please, do not feel alone.

Bullying can be incredibly frightening and isolating.

But there are laws to protect you and there are things you can do to ensure your safety and to limit the long term impact on your mental health .

So please take everyone and please know that you are never on your own.

Lots of love, Giuliana

https://www.therapiesforspecialneeds.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/482455567249684/?ref=share_group_link

 

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Self-discovery journal prompts

 

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An article by our Well-being Ambassador Giuliana Wheater and her video!

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Checking in MINDFULLY with our Mental Health through writing or play.

As the UK scorches in a record hitting heatwave and schools break up for the summer holidays this week, it is still important to check in with ourselves daily.

Journaling is an incredibly powerful mindfulness tool to really be present with ourselves and to feel into where we are at on emotional and mental levels.

Now writing is not for everyone. For someone with dyslexia it certainly would not feel mindful at all.

So, use voice recording on your phones or if you are good at art, express it that way.

There are infinite ways to communicate and to keep up they self-talk.

If you have a child who is younger you could weave self-going along prompts into games, where of you win a bingo counter or get to move in Frustration or go up a ladder in Snakes and Ladders you get to choose a self-discovery journal prompt from a lucky dip bag or box.

You can put them into hide and seek games, treasure hunts or if your child is sporty then they can choose a card if they score a goal or win a round of table tennis. The possibilities and variations are endless.

If you are having fun and are relaxed, children and young adults are far more forthcoming than if I were to give them straight down the line talk therapy session. That can feel too invasive, pressurised, and uncomfortable.

If you are a family, therapist, or teacher, get the kids to help write the questions as this is very empowering and fills them with serotonin, the neurotransmitter of confidence, happiness, and self-esteem.

It also encourages teamwork, self-awareness, interpersonal awareness, and trust/bonding.

Always give each person option to take another question if they do not want to answer the one, they choose.

So, over the Summer either keep that daily journal or all playfully check in with each other.

It will be real quality time.

Take care everyone.

Stay happy, safe, and well. Lots of love, Giuliana xx

https://www.therapiesforspecialneeds.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rainbowtherapieskidsandfamilies/?ref=share_group_link

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Mindfulness for meltdowns

 

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An article by our Well-being Ambassador Giuliana Wheater and her video!

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The exams are over, and I have to say I am just BURSTING with pride at how all of this particular 2022-year group have navigated it all through such unbelievably challenging times.

For our autistic and neurodivergent young people I am even prouder as, in my opinion, mainstream exams bring out the best in nobody, even neurotypical kids; they just create box tickers and finishers; not learners ready to explore and be curious.

For our neurodivergent kids, it is like taking their exams in Japanese, especially as many of them have gone through this whole process without a diagnosis or an EHCP due to the 3–5-year average waiting lists.

I AM SO PROUD OF THEM!!!!

Funnily enough many of the young people I have seen since the exams have finished have been either feeling flat, emotionally numb, or very tearful, and many have had absolute meltdowns.

All behaviour is communication and our young people really have been pushed to the absolute limit on every level.

So here are three very simple mindful exercises to use when you feel that meltdown or overwhelm building inside you.

If your child has already hit meltdown, use these exercises once they have calmed down. Do not do them while they are in that state of “high arousal.”

By doing these regularly, self-awareness is developed: that awareness of things building and how they are feeling.

Self-regulation will then follow as once they are aware that a meltdown is building, they can bring themselves fully to the very present moment by doing one of more of the exercises I have shared today.

Eventually they will be able to self-manage those big emotions. These exercises are wonderful for us all, whatever our label – and anyone can do them, so they are fully inclusive of all abilities.

Have a great week everyone. Take good care of yourselves and each other. Lots of love, Giuliana xx

https://www.therapiesforspecialneeds.co.uk/

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Take a deep breath 

 

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An article by our Well-being Ambassador Giuliana Wheater and her video!

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The exams are over … hooray!!! However, we still continue to live in a crazy world. So, we need to literally take a deep breath from time to time.

Mindful yoga breathing techniques are an actual superpower on so many levels.

In the exercises I have shared this week we are working on the heart, the gut and the gut-brain axis which are MASSIVELY important for our mental health.

By breathing deeply, we increase the blood and oxygen to the brain. This actually decreases by 40% when we panic, have an anxiety attack, or hyperventilate.

The heart is proven to be the control mechanism to health.

Stress is proven to be the control mechanism to ill health on all sorts of levels.

These breathing exercises will ease anxiety, stress, PTSD, and insomnia as well as boosting the enemy of stress: nonadrenaline.

No adrenaline floods us with focus and positivity.

Serotonin for self-esteem, happiness and confidence is pushed up from the gut and into the brain. Dopamine for perspective, drive, attention and feeling on top of the world loves a good party more than anything else and this is also being pushed up to the brain!

The Blood and oxygen intake to the brain are boosted, stimulating focus and clear thinking.

If you have a child or you yourself are autistic, have ADHD, ADD or PDA, just turn the breathing exercises into a story or tale about what their passion is. This will engage them far more than trying to force them to sit down and “do breathing exercises “.

I snow you how to do this in this week’s video.

Regular mindful breathing changes our brains too!!

The grey matter around the amygdala/ emotional brain / fear centre actually DECREASES and the grey matter around the prefrontal cortex / higher brain functions/ rational brain actually INCREASES!!!

Just amazing!!

So, take care everyone, Have a good week. Lots of love, Giuliana xx

https://www.therapiesforspecialneeds.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rainbowtherapieskidsandfamilies/?ref=share_group_link

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Take a deep breath

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Take a deep breath

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Take a deep breath

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Five simple ways to release anxiety through yoga breathing, movement, and touch 

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An article by our Well-being Ambassador Giuliana Wheater and her video!

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Well, the sun is out in the UK and the exams are over.

However mental health is still massively and frighteningly on the rise. Many of us are barely hanging on by a thread.

This week I am sharing with you five simple yoga breaths, movement, and touch techniques to help release stress and anxiety, to combat the enemy of the brain -myelin- which is produced when we are under long term anxiety or stress, and to get those happy and coping neurotransmitters reaching for their party hats again.

These simple exercises will ground you, bring you to the present moment and stimulate all four of those major neurotransmitters which help us to cope and function. These neurotransmitters are needed for self-esteem, happiness, confidence, clear thinking, perspective, good judgment, better sleep, motivation, and focus, as well as for stimulating our emotional intelligence – bringing our rational brains to the forefront.

They are inclusive of everyone and can be self-administered discreetly at any time, so very empowering.

It is so important to have the tools we need whenever those horrible anxious feelings start to build.

So, look after each other as well as yourselves.

Be kind always because you never know if you are someone’s last hope or if they have no hope at all.

We are in this together.

Lots of love, Giuliana xx

https://www.therapiesforspecialneeds.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rainbowtherapieskidsandfamilies/?ref=share_group_link

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Five simple ways to release anxiety

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Relaxing neck massage to combat stress 

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An article by our Well-being Ambassador Giuliana Wheater and her video!

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Relaxing neck massage to combat stress and release delicious relaxation and dopamine … perfect for exams

Hello everyone! I hope you had the most gorgeous Jubilee celebrations and enjoyed the long sunny bank holiday weekend!

Well, we are almost at the halfway mark with the exam period!! I for one cannot wait to see the back of it. This one size fits all system in my opinion benefits very few anyway and I am full of admiration for this year group going through it after enduring covid and all the rental health issues it has exacerbated.

This week I am sharing some very easy neck massage techniques which you can use on a friends and family basis, as a therapist as part of your sessions or for yourselves on an as and when needed basis.

The only contraindication is if you have or are recovering from cancer, due to the lymph which could carry the nasty cells.

Otherwise, these absolutely delicious and simple techniques will not only push the blood and oxygen to your brain to boost concentration and focus, but it will also surge they glorious neurotransmitter dopamine up the vagus nerve and into your brain.

Dopamine as you know I would the neurotransmitter for attention, motivation, the feeling of reward, feeling able to cope and function as well as clarity of thought, focus and productivity.

Stretching the neck also brings us back into the present and releases any aches, pains, stress, or tension build up.

These techniques are discreet as well as easy and can be self-administered even during an exam.

I am thinking of you all and sending you all the positivity I can during this time.

Take care of yourselves. Love, Giuliana

https://www.therapiesforspecialneeds.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rainbowtherapieskidsandfamilies/?ref=share_group_link

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Relaxing neck massage to combat stress

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Self-facial massage for exam stress, anxiety and overwhelm

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An article by our Well-being Ambassador Giuliana Wheater and her video!

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We are now really in the thick of the exam season and we need to look after our children’s and young people’s mental health more than ever before.

This year group have had so much learning missed; social and emotional growing missed out on and have had the brunt of the consequences of Covid.

Many are having to sit their exams WITH Covid.

The pressure on them and their teachers is enormous.

Our neurodiverse children do not forget already have much higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their bodies since birth and are already 2-6x more likely to pick up a mental health issue. We need to be proactive rather than reactive in helping them to self-manage and self-regulate during this incredibly stressful time.

This week I have shared a few facial massage tips which can be shared on a friends and family basis, shared by therapists in their sessions or be self-administered.

They are very discreet and can even be used during the exams themselves when you feel they overwhelm building.

All the main four neurotransmitters are stimulated with the strokes, releasing love, nurture, clarity, focus, concentration, attention, feeling able to cope and function, as well as levelling out mood and aggression and helping us to feel calm. It will also promote deeper and more restful sleep – vital before such important exams and all the pressure they carry.

I am honestly thinking of you ALL.

Take care this week and keep that huge, long Summer in your mind as the light at the end of the tunnel.

Lots of love, Giuliana

https://www.therapiesforspecialneeds.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rainbowtherapieskidsandfamilies/

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Self-facial massage for exam stress, anxiety and overwhelm

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