Why are mental health and well-being important?   

Why are mental health and well-being important?   

Looking after mental health and well-being are important because they can affect many aspects of a person’s life. Good mental health can enable people to enjoy fulfilling relationships, pursue their interests, and feel more positive in their outlook on life. In contrast, poor mental health can exacerbate isolation, difficulties in functioning, and a reduced quality of life. The nature of our work means that some of our clients may be particularly vulnerable due to illness, disability, loneliness or old age. Maintaining good mental well-being for both clients and our carers is a top priority.  

Mental health is also closely linked to physical health. For example, stress and anxiety can lead to physical health problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Equally, good mental health can improve physical health, such as faster recovery from illness or injury and an overall better quality of life. Our team understand the link between mental and physical health and we are always looking for ways to support them in taking steps to promote these for clients and for themselves. 

Supporting clients’ mental well-being with person-centred care   

A big part of mental health is emotional well-being. For our clients, we operate with the same open culture to ensure that everyone we care for feels able to connect and share any struggles with the team so that they can receive the best support and care for their mental wellbeing. Some of the ways we work to proactively manage this include encouraging and facilitating clients to:  

  • Stay connected and keep in touch with friends and family – this may be through letters, phone calls or organising in-person visits.  
  • Do something that brings them joy every day – find things that make them laugh, such as movies, books, conversations, hobbies and interests.   
  • Remain active, which can improve mood and boost serotonin – light exercise or even moving just a little bit more within each client’s own capabilities can help. 

We also practice person-centred care to ensure that all of our clients receive tailored care which meets their individual needs. This might involve adapting activities to their specific interests, preferences, and abilities or providing emotional support. Many people receiving care with us may be experiencing significant life changes or challenges, such as grief, loss, loneliness or illness. By providing a listening ear and offering compassionate support, we can help clients to process their emotions and work through their challenges. If they need additional support services, we can help them access these. 

Through our staff’s extensive training programmes, we are aware of the signs and symptoms of declining mental health, which means we are prepared to offer support when needed.  

Creating a culture of support for our staff 

At Birchwood Care Services, we understand that mental health is complex. It’s not as simple as introducing a single service or creating a supportive culture and making everything okay. However, we know that these things are steps in the right direction and want our employees to be supported in and outside of work. One of these small but important steps is ensuring that our staff have access to Bupa wellbeing as an external and impartial support service. 

We also conduct regular welfare checks and support the mental health of each member of our Birchwood Care Services team where possible by providing access to advice and resources. Checking in with each other and fostering an open culture where everyone feels confident and comfortable to speak up is built into the foundation of our workplace. Our open-door policy encourages staff to feel welcome to come and talk to us about any concerns they have. 

Understanding seasonal affective disorder (SAD)  

According to Age UK, seasonal affective disorder is a growing concern among our ageing population. While the cause is not specifically known, it’s thought to be linked to the decreasing hours of daylight and exposure to sunlight in the winter months. A drop in socialisation, community connection, and the ability to enjoy outdoor hobbies can also contribute.  

While we are currently looking forward to the summer months ahead, our team look out for the signs and symptoms of SAD all year. These can include:  

  • low mood and energy;  
  • changes in appetite;  
  • feeling less able to talk to people, or needing to be quiet;  
  • preferring to be alone more than usual;  
  • crying more than usual, or over things that wouldn’t normally make you upset;  
  • feeling pessimistic, hopeless or guilty;  
  • having difficulty getting restful sleep or not wanting to get out of bed;  
  • losing interest in things or not enjoying things you usually do, difficulty with concentration and memory.  

The severity of symptoms varies from one person to another; for some, symptoms will be fairly mild, whilst others may find that symptoms have a big impact on their daily life and mental health. We are especially aware of the risks of SAD for our clients. Some of the ways that we can help minimise these risks are by: 

  • helping them to keep active; 
  • fostering new seasonal hobbies; 
  • enjoying natural sunlight and time outside when possible; 
  • supporting them to connect with their friends or family, and having meaningful conversations with our team. 

Seeking professional support  

While we have a variety of support systems in place for both staff and clients to access support and advice to help maintain good mental health and wellbeing, we also encourage the use of professional advice helplines such as those shared below.  

For mental health support, call the Samaritans: 116 123  

For mental health and general advice, call Age UK: 0800 678 1602  

For befriending and mental health advice, call The Silver Line: 0800 470 80 90  

For loneliness and general advice, call Independent Age: 0800 319 6789  

For grief and bereavement advice, call Cruse: 0808 808 1677  

As we reflect on the significance of mental health and well-being this month, we also reaffirm our commitment to supporting our clients, community, and staff. For more tips on boosting your mood, you can read our post on staying happy in your later years.   

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