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    Author: Anna Christou

    Winter Wellness: Tips to Stay Healthy and Happy in the Irish Chill

    As winter descends upon Ireland, maintaining well-being becomes a top priority for many. The colder temperatures and shorter days can impact both physical and mental health. Through this blog post, we hope to help you to navigate the Irish winter with resilience and prioritise your well-being; by supporting you to see and embrace the unique opportunities that the season brings and make the most of this time to nurture your physical and mental health.

    To help you navigate the winter months with resilience and joy, we have prepared these quick tips for maintaining well-being in Ireland:

    • Tip #1 – Embrace the Outdoors – Despite the chilly weather, spending time outdoors can do wonders for your well-being. Take advantage of the crisp air and beautiful landscapes Ireland has to offer. Whether it’s a brisk walk along the coast or a hike through the lush countryside, outdoor activities can help boost your mood and energy levels.

    • Tip #2 – Stay Active – Physical activity is important for both mental and physical well-being. Consider joining a local fitness class, trying a new winter sport, or simply incorporating a daily walk into your routine. Exercise releases endorphins, which can help combat the winter blues.
    • Tip #3 – Prioritise Hydration and Nutrition – Cold weather can lead to dehydration, so it’s important to stay well-hydrated even when you don’t feel thirsty. Additionally, nourish your body with a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole foods to support your immune system and overall health.
    • Tip #4 – Boost Your Vitamin D – With reduced sunlight during winter, it’s essential to ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D. Consider taking supplements or including vitamin D-rich foods in your diet, such as fatty fish, eggs, and fortified dairy products.
    • Tip #5 – Create a Cosy Home Environment – Make your home a sanctuary during the colder months. Add soft blankets, warm lighting, and indulge in comfort foods. Creating a cosy atmosphere can contribute to a sense of well-being and make winter more enjoyable.
    • Tip #6 – Connect with Others – Social connections are vital for mental health. Whether it’s a virtual catch-up or a cosy get-together, try to stay connected with friends and family. Share experiences and support each other through the winter months.
    • Tip #7 – Practice Mindfulness – The winter season can bring about a reflective mood. Consider incorporating mindfulness practices such as meditation or yoga into your routine. These activities can help reduce stress and promote a sense of calm.
    • Tip #8 – Prepare for Seasonal Ailments – Be proactive in preventing and managing common winter ailments. Keep your immune system strong, dress warmly, and stay informed about health guidelines. If you do fall ill, seek timely medical advice and care.

     

    Nurturing Resilience in Children: The Power of Embracing Mistakes, Change, and Self-Esteem

    Children nowadays are held to unusual standards, especially when it comes to their academic performance. There is very little tolerance for mistake in the climate that has been created by the demand to do well, to be flawless, and to accomplish consistently. But we really need to redefine this way of thinking. Rather than instilling a fear of making errors, we want to help kids accept them as essential components of the learning process. We must constantly remind our kids and ourselves that mistakes are chances to learn and grow.
    Thinking back on our errors frequently results in life-changing lessons. Children have a more resilient mentality when they are allowed to make errors and are made to realize that this is an inevitable part of learning. Children who see mistakes as normal are more inclined to attempt new things, take chances, and push their boundaries. They discover that disappointments and setbacks are fleeting and that they can get back up and try again.
    A key component of building children’s resilience is encouraging them to try new activities. Children learn to adapt and overcome obstacles when they are exposed to new experiences, such as taking up a musical instrument, playing a team sport, or engaging in artistic pursuits.
    Children who try new things learn that failure is not a permanent setback but rather a chance for improvement, which helps them to solve problems, gain confidence, and adopt a growth mindset. Children gain a sense of self-efficacy through trying out new activities because they see that they can overcome challenges and pick up new skills.
    In the end, we teach kids the resilience, adaptability, and willingness to embrace the unknown necessary to face life’s challenges by pushing them into uncharted territory.

    Encouraging kids to talk about their feelings is a great way to help them become more resilient. Children who are allowed to express their emotions in a secure and encouraging setting are better able to comprehend the emotional experiences they have. Children learn to identify and categorise their emotions through candid discussion, which is a crucial first step towards developing healthy coping mechanisms. Children who talk about their feelings are better able to form stronger social bonds and ask for help when they need it.
    Children learn that they are not alone and that others may have experienced similar difficulties when they are encouraged to talk about their struggles, fears, and anxieties. This increases their feeling of empathy and community, which fortifies their resilience.
    Developing resilience in children requires them to accept change from an early age. Change is a necessary part of life, even though it can sometimes feel unsettling and frightening. Children learn to adapt and flourish in a variety of circumstances when they are taught to embrace it rather than fear it.

    Children can learn to manage transitions with resilience if they are encouraged to view change as a chance for personal growth. Flexibility, open-mindedness, and the capacity to adapt to changing circumstances are made possible by accepting change. It gives kids the tools they need to deal with uncertainty and welcome new experiences, whether they’re moving to a new school, getting used to a new environment, or running into unforeseen difficulties.

    We think that one of the main reasons our students succeed in a variety of spheres of life is the resilience skills we instill in them. Through accepting mistakes, promoting experimentation, having candid conversations about feelings, and instilling self-worth, we provide our kids the skills they need to meet obstacles head-on with flexibility, resilience, and unwavering faith in their own abilities.

    Your judgement may be deadly.

    Understanding stigma in relationship to mental health, its issues and how to overcome it.

    Author: Jugendförderverein Parchim/Lübz e. V., Elin Schult

     

    Stigma is a mark of disgrace that affects mental health.
    Stigma is a mark of disgrace associated with a specific person, object or circumstance. Topics that you might associate with stigma are sexuality deviating from the CIS-norm, being a criminal/in prison, having an STD or being fat. It is often attached with shame. Stigma also exist in relationship to mental illness as an outcome of disinformation, ignorance and prejudice. The stigma in mental illness often includes persons instead of being labelled as unwell, get labels such as crazy, dangerous, or incompetent. Other kinds of mental illnesses may lead to labels such as being weak or cowardly. Persons suffering might get tips such as “snap out of it”, or “don’t be a cry-baby”.

    Suffering under stigma can be worse than the mental illness itself.
    Stigma often puts fuel to the fire for a person struggling with their mental health. People’s perceptions, including their own, may lead to not getting the help they need or getting it too late. By when, damage has already been done. Stigma may lead to social marginalisation, such as not being invited to social interactions, being taken less seriously or being seen as less competent. It may lead to not getting a job or being promoted or getting turned down as a potential buyer or renter of an apartment.
    Many people suffering from mental illnesses state that the stigma of it is worse than the condition.

    Everyone can help to reduce stigma against persons with mental illness.
    There are many things you can do to be an agent of change against stigma of mental illness:
    – Be mindful of talking well about other persons and use positive wording. We never know why people act the way they do and if we haven’t made the effort to find out why, then at least we should not judge.
    – Speak up when you hear others behaving in a way that reflect stigma of marginalized groups. Calling someone “crazy” our “weak” or not help someone acting strange can, depending on the circumstance, be detrimental.
    – Think about how you can help reducing stigma in your different roles in life. Are you a journalist? Great – through staying objective and non-judgemental, you can report in a fair and balanced manner. Are you a teacher? Great – how you interact with your students during and outside of class will teach them about how to treat others. Do you have someone close to you not feeling well? What a great opportunity to learn more and train being there for them as they need.

    What to do if you are subject to stigma
    – Never let it stop you from getting help: You need to involve professional support such as a medical doctor and a psychiatrist, but also trusted persons from your social system – it could be friends, family or colleagues, to get the help you need.
    – You are not your illness: Just as someone with a broken toe is not a broken toe, you are not a mental illness. Talk about it in terms of “I have depression”, not “I’m depressed”.
    – The stigma is not about you: Try to distance yourself from others judgement by understanding that it is about their lack of information or stereotypes. Try not to take it personally.
    – Use storytelling or facts to counteract: You don’t need to defend yourself. But if you like, you can counteract with telling your personal story or educating your counterpart.
    – Find more of your people: Find a support group or another group of people that make you feel normal and appreciated. Here you are supported and can support others. Through the internet, the possibilities are endless.

    „Everyone you meet is fighting a battle
    you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.“
    Brad Meltzer

     

    Sources:
    Aktionsbündnis Seelischer Gesundheit, „Reden Hilft“, https://www.seelischegesundheit.net/wissen/stigma/ [accessed 16/11/23]

    Health Direct, „Mental Illness Stigma“, last review: 11/2021,
    https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/mental-illness-stigma [accessed 16/11/23]

    Up to 40 percent of Czech ninth-graders suffer from depression, 30 have anxiety. Girls are twice as bad off, study says

    Up to 40 percent of ninth-graders in primary school show signs of moderate to severe depression and 30 percent have signs of anxiety. This is according to a study by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NUDZ). In all areas of mental health, girls are more affected. Compared to boys, more than twice as many of them suffer from both depressive and anxiety symptoms. The data was collected by experts in May and June 2023 from more than 6,000 pupils from all regions.

    “Research shows that more than 50% of ninth-grade students in the Czech Republic show signs of impaired well-being. This is essential, as it reflects the quality of life we are currently experiencing subjectively and to some extent helps us to cope with the stressful situations that life brings. Sudden challenging situations, stress, difficulties at work, school, in a partner relationship or the loss of a loved one can interfere with our mental health,” explains Matěj Kučera, coordinator and analyst of the monitoring from the National Institute of Mental Health.

    Nearly one in three pupils would benefit from professional help

    “In addition, 30% of those surveyed showed signs that indicate moderate to severe anxiety. Almost one in three ninth graders would benefit from seeking professional help for these reasons. If we translate this into an average class of 20 pupils, on average 6 show signs of anxiety and 8 show signs of moderate to severe depression, while another 5 show signs of mild depression,” says Matěj Kučera. Girls are more affected in all areas of mental health: more than twice as many of them suffer from depressive and anxiety symptoms compared to boys.

    “The majority of mental illnesses arise in childhood and adolescence, which are not only a period of increased risk, but above all a period that is extremely important for systematic, targeted and evidence-based prevention and early intervention. With a chronic shortage of child psychologists and psychiatrists, which cannot be resolved even with the best will and high investment within a few years, we must focus precisely on the preventive component of the mental health care system,” explains Petr Winkler, director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

    Prevention is essential

    The results of the survey will now be made known not only to those involved, but also to the Mental Health Monitoring Platform. This will bring together representatives of projects collecting and analysing mental health data. The NUDZ team is also preparing scientific publications to reach a wide academic community in the Czech Republic and abroad.

    Together with those concerned with children’s mental health, the Institute also intends to hold a series of meetings to present possible responses to the situation. “These include further monitoring of the situation or support for the prevention of mental illness in pupils. The NUDZ has already implemented several projects in this area: for example, it has created the All Five Together programme aimed at increasing pupils’ mental literacy, it is developing a programme for parents of children who are struggling with anxiety, or it is cooperating on other projects with UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO),” said Matěj Kučera, the NUDZ’s monitoring coordinator and analyst.

    Improving the mental well-being of young people through building resilience and mindfulness is the aim of the BENEFIT project. Download our Toolkit for Resilience and Mindfulness and find out more and follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/benefiteuproject/

     

    Newsletter January 2024

    Finishing the Toolkit on Resilience and Mindfulness for Youth

    Looking back on the first year of work as an international consortium we have worked hard to complete the first project result – Toolkit on Resilience and Mindfulness for Youth. Our objectives with this toolkit are: To offer youth an easy-to-understand and fun tool that gives them guidance and ideas on how to improve their mental health, through building resilience, developing mindfulness and relationships with the people around them. Not least to give youth workers and teachers a tool to work with students and young people.

    The toolkit comprises of 4 chapters:

    ● Mental health + Wellbeing
    ● Mindfulness
    ● Resilience
    ● Relationships (creating bonds)

    The Toolkit is being finalized and translated into partner’s national languages and will be available soon on the project’s website: www.benefitproject.org.

     

    Desk research and 2 workshops done

    Looking back at year 2023
    With the guidance and templates from the Institute of Development and CARDET, both our partners from Cyprus, we have done desk and field research mapping out the current state of mental health and mental health prevention in partner countries. We held a focus group with one of the target groups of the project – youth workers – to find out their awareness of the issue and their needs.
    Based on this research and our professional expertise, we developed the toolkit.
    At the end of 2023, each member of the consortium held successfully 2 workshops for youth workers and for youth, which introduced the practical tools of the toolkit and gave all participants the opportunity to work on their resilience, mindfulness and improve their mental health.

    What will we work on next?

    Training Package for Youth Workers

    As our work continues, we will turn our focus to developing a Training Package for Youth Workers on Mental Health Support. The Training Package will include a Curriculum that will be available as an eCourse via the project’s eLearning Platform (www.benefitproject.org), and a Manual that youth workers can follow and use to educate and inform young people on key concepts and approaches to elevate their resilience and mindfulness.

    Our main objective is: To pass on youth workers basic knowledge of the importance of collaboration in addressing mental health challenges. Factual knowledge of existing resources and support networks. And last but not least practical knowledge of techniques for effective communication and partnership-building.

    This package will consist of 5 learning modules:

    ● Resilience – Building Emotional Strength and Wellbeing Strategies
    ● Mindfulness – Enhancing Mental Health Awareness and Self-Care Skills
    ● Mental Hygiene: Promoting Positive Mental Health Habits – Strengthening Support Networks for Workers and Clients
    ● Technology and Security – Developing Healthy Digital Habits, and Creating Nurturing and Supportive Spaces for Workers and Clients

    Over the next few months we will be working on developing these materials, and in the next newsletter we will be able to update you further.

    Stay informed

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    www.facebook.com/benefiteuproject/

    Partner’s social media profiles:

    SEMwell, Czech Republic: Facebook

    CARDET, Cyprus Facebook

    Institute of Development, Cyprus: Facebook

    Jugendförderverein, Germany Facebook

    Mindshift Talent Advisory, Portugal: Facebook

    Future in Perspective Limited, Ireland: Facebook

    Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them. Με τη χρηματοδότηση της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης. Οι απόψεις και οι γνώμες που διατυπώνονται εκφράζουν αποκλειστικά τις απόψεις των συντακτών και δεν αντιπροσωπεύουν κατ'ανάγκη τις απόψεις της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης ή του Ευρωπαϊκού Εκτελεστικού Οργανισμού Εκπαίδευσης και Πολιτισμού (EACEA). Η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση και ο EACEA δεν μπορούν να θεωρηθούν υπεύθυνοι για τις εκφραζόμενες απόψεις. Финансирано от Европейския съюз. Изразените възгледи и мнения обаче принадлежат изцяло на техния(ите) автор(и) и не отразяват непременно възгледите и мненията на Европейския съюз или на Европейската изпълнителна агенция за образование и култура (EACEA). За тях не носи отговорност нито Европейският съюз, нито EACEA. Financováno Evropskou unií. Názory vyjádřené jsou názory autora a neodráží nutně oficiální stanovisko Evropské unie či Evroské výkonné agentury pro vzdělávání a kulturu (EACEA). Evropská unie ani EACEA za vyjádřené názory nenese odpovědnost. Gefinancierd door de Europese Unie. De hier geuite ideeën en meningen komen echter uitsluitend voor rekening van de auteur(s) en geven niet noodzakelijkerwijs die van de Europese Unie of het Europese Uitvoerende Agentschap onderwijs en cultuur (EACEA) weer. Noch de Europese Unie, noch het EACEA kan ervoor aansprakelijk worden gesteld. Financirano sredstvima Europske unije. Izneseni stavovi i mišljenja su stavovi i mišljenja autora i ne moraju se podudarati sa stavovima i mišljenjima Europske unije ili Europske izvršne agencije za obrazovanje i kulturu (EACEA). Ni Europska unija ni EACEA ne mogu se smatrati odgovornima za njih. Financé par l’Union européenne. Les points de vue et avis exprimés n’engagent toutefois que leur(s) auteur(s) et ne reflètent pas nécessairement ceux de l’Union européenne ou de l’Agence exécutive européenne pour l’éducation et la culture (EACEA). Ni l’Union européenne ni l’EACEA ne sauraient en être tenues pour responsables. Von der Europäischen Union finanziert. Die geäußerten Ansichten und Meinungen entsprechen jedoch ausschließlich denen des Autors bzw. der Autoren und spiegeln nicht zwingend die der Europäischen Union oder der Europäischen Exekutivagentur für Bildung und Kultur (EACEA) wider. Weder die Europäische Union noch die EACEA können dafür verantwortlich gemacht werden. Financiado pela União Europeia. Os pontos de vista e as opiniões expressas são as do(s) autor(es) e não refletem necessariamente a posição da União Europeia ou da Agência de Execução Europeia da Educação e da Cultura (EACEA). Nem a União Europeia nem a EACEA podem ser tidos como responsáveis por essas opiniões. Financiado por la Unión Europea. Las opiniones y puntos de vista expresados solo comprometen a su(s) autor(es) y no reflejan necesariamente los de la Unión Europea o los de la Agencia Ejecutiva Europea de Educación y Cultura (EACEA). Ni la Unión Europea ni la EACEA pueden ser considerados responsables de ellos. Finanziato dall'Unione europea. Le opinioni espresse appartengono, tuttavia, al solo o ai soli autori e non riflettono necessariamente le opinioni dell'Unione europea o dell’Agenzia esecutiva europea per l’istruzione e la cultura (EACEA). Né l'Unione europea né l'EACEA possono esserne ritenute responsabili. Financirano s strani Evropske unije. Izražena stališča in mnenja so zgolj stališča in mnenja avtorja(-ev) in ni nujno, da odražajo stališča in mnenja Evropske unije ali Evropske izvajalske agencije za izobraževanje in kulturo (EACEA). Zanje ne moreta biti odgovorna niti Evropska unija niti EACEA.
    Project Number: 2022-1-DE04-KA220-YOU-000085433

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