Live talk available at the below date and time. The Electrical Industries Charity presents a wellbeing series of inspirational speakers and leading experts in mental health, law, and reliance. The series is uplifting and educational on a range of issues impacting our industry. Format of the series will be a 50-minute virtual presentation followed by 10 minutes of questions and answers facilitated by the Charity CEO, Tessa Ogle.
As a mental health speaker, Thomas brings an authentic and passionate viewpoint to the topic and pushes the message of ‘healthy body, healthy mind’. Having struggled with mental illness, Thomas unfortunately has attempted to take his own life. In a bid to help his recovery, Thomas founded Mental Health Runner, using his passion of running to help both himself and others find a form of escapism. In partnership with Mental Health Runner, Thomas has also become a popular keynote event speaker delivering speeches to top clients to help change how mental health and illness is perceived. In his darkest days, Thomas felt as though he was alone and the only one suffering with mental illness. So, Thomas now works to help people have access to the right support that they need to overcome their struggles, and to support, motivate and inspire people to keep on going.
Thomas is also the founder of the First Steps Forward Programme, helping individuals who have been diagnosed with mental health issues to put on their trainers and find their own happiness in running. Thomas has also forged a reputation as a popular and award-winning mental health blogger. He has previously been voted as the runner up in the SUNDRIED Health Blog of the Year and has also authored Surviving the War Against Yourself. Thomas has also claimed the Active Lincolnshire Active Change Award, started Run Talk Run Lincolnshire and been appointed as the Service User Governor for Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Thomas is also a member of the Brooks Run Happy Team, and a qualified Leader in Running Fitness with Athletics England.
Now a popular event and keynote speaker, Thomas has been hired by countless businesses and organisations to deliver authentic and insightful speeches about mental health. Thomas has previously performed a TEDx talk, titled The Fight For Survival in the War Against Yourself. He has also been hired as a speaker for Associated British Foods Plc, Germains, Lincoln College and Boston College to name but a few. Thomas is also sought as a mental health consultant, delivering speeches and workshops to school and college students to encourage meaningful talks around an important subject. Also a media volunteer for Mind and Rethink, Thomas is the perfect choice as a speaker to bring awareness to mental health issue and stamp out the stigma surrounding them.
This Mental Health Month we are focusing on addiction and the impact it can have on work, life and relationships. It is widely accepted that addiction is a mental illness and addiction can be a contributory factor to developing other mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, psychosis and more.
Addiction is a common problem, but help is available. Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you.
Addiction is most commonly associated with gambling, drugs, alcohol and smoking, but it's possible to be addicted to just about anything, including:
The most common addictions in the UK are:
There are lots of reasons why addictions begin. In the case of drugs, alcohol and nicotine, these substances affect the way you feel, both physically and mentally. These feelings can be enjoyable and create a powerful urge to use the substances again. Gambling may result in a similar mental "high" after a win, followed by a strong urge to try again and recreate that feeling. This can develop into a habit that becomes very hard to stop.Being addicted to something means that not having it causes withdrawal symptoms, or a "come down". Because this can be unpleasant, it's easier to carry on having or doing what you crave, and so the cycle continues. Often, an addiction gets out of control because you need more and more to satisfy a craving and achieve the "high".
All drugs can have an effect on your mental health. They can change your mood and behaviour. For some people, taking drugs can lead to long-term mental health problems. When we talk about drugs, we’re referring to recreational drugs such as cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin, as well as alcohol, tobacco and some prescribed medicines if they are misused. Drugs may be legal, illegal or a controlled substance (only legal if you have a prescription for them). There are different ways drugs can affect your mental health. For some people, taking drugs can lead to long-term mental health problems. Regular cannabis use can increase your risk of anxiety or depression. There’s also a link between using stronger cannabis and developing psychosis or schizophrenia.
Stimulant drugs can make you feel depressed, anxious and paranoid. Cocaine – a type of stimulant – can make previous mental health problems recur and trigger psychosis and schizophrenia. Ecstasy users can experience memory problems. Hallucinogenic drugs such as magic mushrooms can make any mental health issues worse. They can make you feel detached from your surrounding and cause flashbacks, which can be frightening or distressing. If you take medication, mixing it with alcohol or drugs can be dangerous or even fatal. You may feel you’re no longer in control of your drug use or that you need to take more and more of it to feel an effect. If so, you could be becoming addicted. Drug addiction is linked to mental health problems. Taking any drug can be dangerous.
While the effects of alcohol can sometimes have a short term positive impact on our mood, in the long term it can cause problems for mental health. Drinking alcohol is linked to a range of mental health issues from depression and memory loss, to suicide. Regular, heavy drinking interferes with chemicals in the brain that are vital for good mental health. So while we might feel relaxed after a drink, in the long run alcohol has an impact on mental health and can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety, and make stress harder to deal with. The brain relies on a delicate balance of chemicals and processes. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it can disrupt that balance, affecting our thoughts, feelings and actions – and sometimes our long-term mental health. This is partly down to neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that help to transmit signals from one nerve (or neuron) in the brain to another. Feelings of anxiety can happen with a hangover, too. For some, these feelings are barely noticeable. But if anxiety is already an issue, the hangover effect can make those symptoms worse.
Drinking alcohol can also make a person feel more anxious in certain situations. When we drink, we don’t always respond to all the cues around us. If we’re prone to anxiety and notice something that could be interpreted as threatening in the environment, there is a tendency to focus on that and miss the other less threatening - or neutral - information. To reduce stress or anxiety without alcohol, try exercise or relaxation methods, such as meditation or yoga. Or try breathing techniques when you feel worried or anxious. Talking to somebody you know about how you’re feeling is also a positive thing to do. Drinking heavily and regularly is associated with symptoms of depression, although it can be difficult to separate cause and effect. This means it’s not always clear whether drinking alcohol causes a person to experience symptoms of depression. What we do know is that alcohol affects several nerve-chemical systems within our bodies which are important in regulating our mood. Studies show that depression can follow on from heavy drinking.3 And that reducing or stopping drinking can improve mood. Alcohol can cause people to lose their inhibitions and behave impulsively, so it can lead to actions they might not otherwise have taken – including self-harm and even suicide.13 There is a strong association between drinking heavily (either chronic or acute alcohol misuse) and suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and death from suicide. Extreme levels of drinking (such as drinking more than 30 units per day for several weeks) can occasionally cause psychosis, which is a severe mental illness where hallucinations and delusions – of persecution, for example – occur. Psychoses can be caused by both acute intoxication and withdrawal and can be more common in cases when drinkers who are dependent on alcohol suddenly stop drinking.
Cannabis contains lots of different chemicals known as cannabinoids. Some examples are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the main active ingredient in the cannabis plant. The more THC there is in cannabis, the greater the effect will be. Skunk is a stronger variety of cannabis. It contains higher levels of THC. Evidence suggests that the effects of skunk are faster and stronger than milder cannabis.
CBD can lessen the unwanted psychoactive effects of THC such as hallucinations and paranoia. It can also reduce anxiety. This means that the effects of THC will be lower if there is more CBD in the plant.
Cannabis can make you feel happy, relaxed, talkative or laugh more than usual. You may find that colours and music are brighter and sharper. Pleasant effects are known as a ‘high.’
What are the unpleasant effects of cannabis?
Cannabis can cause hallucinations, changes in mood, amnesia, depersonalisation, paranoia, delusion and disorientation. You might find it harder to concentrate or remember things. You may find that you can’t sleep well and you feel depressed. You may also feel hungry or like time is slowing down. You might have lower motivation. And cannabis can affect how you sense things. You may see, hear or feel things differently. This is known as hallucinating. Hallucinations can be a sign of psychosis. Psychosis can be a symptom of mental illness, including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder. These can be called ‘psychotic illnesses.’ Regular cannabis use is linked to an increased risk of anxiety and depression. But most research seems to have a focus on the link between psychosis and cannabis.
Using cannabis can increase the risk of later developing psychotic illness, including schizophrenia. There is a lot of reliable evidence to show a link between the use of stronger cannabis and psychotic illnesses, including schizophrenia. But the link is not fully understood. Cannabis may be one of the causes of developing a mental illness, but it isn’t be the only cause for many people. Not everyone who uses cannabis will develop psychosis or schizophrenia. And not everyone who has psychosis or schizophrenia has used cannabis. But you are more likely to develop a psychotic illness if you smoke cannabis. And are ‘genetically vulnerable’ to mental health problems.
People gamble for many reasons: the adrenaline rush, to win money, to socialise or to try and escape from worries or stress. However, for some people gambling can get out of control. If you find yourself betting more than you can afford to lose, borrowing money, or feeling stressed and anxious about gambling, you may have a problem. If you want to stop gambling, there is help available. You can get treatment, join support groups and try self-help tips.
What is problem gambling?
Problem gambling can affect your health, relationships and leave you in debt. It can also be called compulsive gambling or a gambling addiction.
You may have a gambling problem if you:
GamCare is a charity supporting anyone affected by problem gambling. Their self-assessment tool can help you understand the impact gambling has on your life, and provide resources to help you change your gambling habits: https://www.gamcare.org.uk/understanding-gambling-problems/self-assessment-tool
What causes problem gambling?
Problem gambling is an addiction, and there is no single reason why addictions develop. Many different factors can increase your risk of developing a gambling problem, including:
How can gambling affect my mental health?
If gambling becomes a problem, it can cause low self-esteem, stress, anxiety, and depression. Gambling can become an addiction, just like drugs or alcohol, if you use it compulsively or feel out of control. Gambling can affect the part of our brain that releases dopamine, a ‘feel good’ hormone that creates feelings of pleasure and reward. When we win a bet, our brain gives us an emotional reward. If you get addicted to gambling, other pleasurable activities may no longer make you feel good. So instead, you will gamble to get the same buzz.
The good news is that your brain chemistry can change back. Everyday life can feel enjoyable again. There’s also a strong link between gambling problems and thoughts of suicide. If you have thoughts of ending your life or don’t feel you can keep yourself safe, call 999 or go to A&E immediately. If you have a mental health problem, you’re more at risk of harmful gambling. For example, you may gamble to try to feel better about yourself when you’re depressed, or to distract yourself if you’re angry or upset.
These days, most of us access social media via our smartphones or tablets. While this makes it very convenient to keep in touch, it also means that social media is always accessible. This round-the-clock, hyper connectivity can trigger impulse control problems, the constant alerts and notifications affecting your concentration and focus, disturbing your sleep, and making you a slave to your phone. Social media platforms are designed to snare your attention, keep you online, and have you repeatedly checking your screen for updates. It’s how the companies make money. But, much like a gambling compulsion or an addiction to nicotine, alcohol, or drugs, social media use can create psychological cravings. When you receive a like, a share, or a favourable reaction to a post, it can trigger the release of dopamine in the brain, the same “reward” chemical that follows winning on a slot machine, taking a bite of chocolate, or lighting up a cigarette, for example. The more you’re rewarded, the more time you want to spend on social media, even if it becomes detrimental to other aspects of your life.
Social media addiction is a behavioural addiction that is characterized as being overly concerned about social media, driven by an uncontrollable urge to log on to or use social media, and devoting so much time and effort to social media that it impairs other important life areas. Research has shown that there is an undeniable link between social media use, negative mental health, and low self-esteem. While social media platforms have their benefits, using them too frequently can make people feel increasingly unhappy and isolated. These negative emotional reactions are not only produced due to the social pressure of sharing things with others, but also the comparison of material things and lifestyles that these sites promote.
The effect too much social media consumption has on our mental wellbeing is profound. With the rise of reality television many of us are subject to the ‘Love Island’ effect. This effect is coined as such because of the effect reality TV has had on social media, our consumption of social media and how we allow social media to impact us. Reality shows such as ‘Love Island’ have helped to create a social media lifestyle coveted by much of the wider public. Coveting a lifestyle which for many is unattainable is extremely unhealthy for our mental and physical wellbeing. The ‘National IPED Drug Survey ‘, authored by The Public Health Institute found that just over 56% of participants were said to be using steroids for “aesthetic reasons” followed closely by 45% who used for “non-competitive bodybuilding.” Mental Health Foundation released startling figures which identified that 1 in 5 UK adults had felt shame because of their body image within the last year. Research indicates that scrolling through hundreds of social media images increases body dissatisfaction and watching hours of image-focused reality TV may do the same.
Excessive social media use can not only cause unhappiness and a general dissatisfaction with life in users, but also increase the risk of developing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Constantly comparing oneself to others can lead to feelings of self-consciousness or a need for perfectionism and order, which often manifests itself into social anxiety disorder. In a 2017 study conducted by Harvard University, researchers found that social media has a significant detrimental effect on the emotional well-being of chronic users and their lives, negatively impacting their real-life relationships and academic achievement among those still in an educational setting. An estimated 27% of children who spend 3 or more hours a day on social media exhibit symptoms of poor mental health. 41% stated that social media platforms make them feel anxious, sad or depressed. A study performed by California State University found that individuals that visited any social media site at least 58 times per week were 3 times more likely to feel socially isolated and depressed compared to those who used social media fewer than 9 times per week. Those who had spent more time on social media had 2.2 times the risk of reporting eating and body image concerns, compared to their peers who spent less time on social media
If you have a friend or relative who is living with addiction, you might be wondering how you can help. It's not always easy to make the decision to try to help someone who has an addiction, but your loved one will have a greater chance of overcoming addiction with your support. This article discusses some of the strategies you can use to help a friend or loved one who is struggling with an addiction. While every situation is unique, there are some general guidelines that can help:
There are many reasons why it can be difficult to help someone you care about who has an addiction. Your loved one:
There is no fast and easy way to help a person with an addiction. Overcoming addiction requires a great deal of effort and support. If someone doesn't want to change their behavior, trying to persuade them to get help is unlikely to work. What you can do is take steps to help your loved one make changes in the long term. It's also important that you get the support you need to cope, too.
There are a number of different treatment options that can be effective, so it is important to consider the options. Think about which approach might be best suited to you and your loved one's needs and goals. Depending on the nature of the addiction, treatment might involve psychotherapy, medication, support groups, or a combination of all of these.
A few options include:
If you need treatment for drug addiction, you're entitled to NHS care in the same way as anyone else who has a health problem.
With the right help and support, it's possible for you to get drug free and stay that way.
Where to get help for drugs:
A GP is a good place to start. They can discuss your problems with you and get you into treatment. They may offer you treatment at the practice or refer you to your local drug service. If you're not comfortable talking to a GP, you can approach your local drug treatment service yourself. Visit the Frank (https://www.talktofrank.com) website to find local drug treatment services. If you're having trouble finding the right sort of help, call the Frank drugs helpline on 0300 123 6600. They can talk you through all your options.
Charity and private drugs treatment:
As well as the NHS, there are charities and private drug and alcohol treatment organisations that can help you. Visit the Adfam (https://adfam.org.uk) website to see a list of useful organisations. Private drug treatment can be very expensive, but sometimes people get referrals through their local NHS.
Your first appointment:
At your first appointment for drug treatment, staff will ask you about your drug use. They'll also ask about your work, family and housing situation. You may be asked to provide a sample of urine or saliva. Staff will talk you through all of your treatment options and agree a treatment plan with you. They can tell you about local support groups for drug users and their families or carers. You'll also be given a keyworker, who will support you throughout your treatment.
What drug treatment involves:
Your treatment will depend on your personal circumstances and what you're addicted to. Your keyworker will work with you to plan the right treatment for you.Your treatment plan may include a number of different treatments and strategies.
Talking therapies, such as CBT, help you to see how your thoughts and feelings affect your behaviour.
Treatment with medicines
If you're dependent on heroin or another opioid, you may be offered a substitute drug, such as methadone. This means you can get on with your treatment without having to worry about withdrawing or buying street drugs.
This is for people who want to stop taking opioids like heroin completely. It helps you to cope with the withdrawal symptoms.
Some people find support groups like Narcotics Anonymous helpful. Your keyworker can tell you where your nearest group is.
Staff at your local drug service will help reduce the risks associated with your drug-taking. For example, you may be offered testing and treatment for hepatitis or HIV.
Where you'll have your treatment
You may have your treatment while living at home or as a hospital inpatient. If your drug-related problems are severe or complicated, you may be referred to a residential rehabilitation service.
For more information about residential rehabilitation, or to find a rehab near you, visit rehabonline (https://rehab-online.org.uk) .
If you feel you are spending too much time on social media platforms and it is negatively impacting your wellbeing in any capacity whether that be not getting enough sleep, compromising your sense of self-worth or causing you to impulse buy then there are some things you can do to take the power away from social media.
1) Reduce your time online
A 2018 University of Pennsylvania study found that reducing social media use to 30 minutes a day resulted in a significant reduction in levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness, sleep problems, and FOMO
The following tips can help:
Use an app to track how much time you spend on social media each day. Then set a goal for how much you want to reduce it by.
Turn off your phone at certain times of the day, such as when you’re driving, in a meeting, at the gym, having dinner, spending time with offline friends, or playing with your kids. Don’t take your phone with you to the bathroom. Don’t bring your phone or tablet to bed. Turn devices off and leave them in another room overnight to charge.
Disable social media notifications. It’s hard to resist the constant buzzing, beeping, and dinging of your phone alerting you to new messages. Turning off notifications can help you regain control of your time and focus. Limit checks. If you compulsively check your phone every few minutes, wean yourself off by limiting your checks to once every 15 minutes. Then once every 30 minutes, then once an hour. There are apps that can automatically limit when you’re able to access your phone. Try removing social media apps from your phone so you can only check Facebook, Twitter and the like from your tablet or computer. If this sounds like too drastic a step, try removing one social media app at a time to see how much you really miss it.
2) Change your focus
Many of us access social media purely out of habit or to mindlessly kill moments of downtime. But by focusing on your motivation for logging on, you can not only reduce the time you spend on social media, you can also improve your experience and avoid many of the negative aspects. Next time you go to access social media, pause for a moment and clarify your motivation for doing so. Are you using social media as a substitute for real life? Is there a healthier substitute for your social media use? If you’re lonely, for example, invite a friend out for coffee instead. Feeling depressed? Take a walk or go to the gym. Bored? Take up a new hobby. Social media may be quick and convenient, but there are often healthier, more effective ways to satisfy a craving. Are you an active or a passive user on social media? Passively scrolling through posts or anonymously following the interaction of others on social media doesn’t provide any meaningful sense of connection. It may even increase feelings of isolation. Being an active participant, though, will offer you more engagement with others. Does social media leave you feeling inadequate or disappointed about your life? You can counter symptoms of FOMO by focusing on what you have, rather than what you lack. Make a list of all the positive aspects of your life and read it back when you feel you’re missing out on something better. And remember no one’s life is ever as perfect as it seems on social media. We all deal with heartache, self-doubt, and disappointment, even if we choose not to share it online.
3) Spend more time with offline friends
We all need the face-to-face company of others to be happy and healthy. At its best, social media is a great tool for facilitating real-life connections. Set aside time each week to interact offline with friends and family. Try to make it a regular get-together where you always keep your phones off. If you’ve neglected face-to-face friendships, reach out to an old friend (or an online friend) and arrange to meet up. If you both lead busy lives, offer to run errands or exercise together. Join a club. Find a hobby, creative endeavor, or fitness activity you enjoy and join a group of like-minded individuals that meet on a regular basis. Don’t let social awkwardness stand in the way. Even if you’re shy, there are proven techniques to overcome insecurity and build friendships. If you don’t feel that you have anyone to spend time with, reach out to acquaintances. Lots of other people feel just as uncomfortable about making new friends as you do—so be the one to break the ice. Invite a co-worker out for lunch or ask a neighbour or classmate to join you for coffee. Interact with strangers. Look up from your screen and connect with people you cross paths with on public transport, at the coffee shop, or in the grocery store. Simply smiling or saying hello will improve how you feel—and you never know where it may lead.
4) Express Gratitude
Feeling and expressing gratitude about the important things in your life can be a welcome relief to the resentment, animosity, and discontent sometimes generated by social media. Take time for reflection. Try keeping a gratitude journal or using a gratitude app. Keep track of all the great memories and positives in your life—as well as those things and people you’d miss if they were suddenly absent from your life. If you’re more prone to venting or negative posts, you can even express your gratitude on social media—although you may benefit more from private reflection that isn’t subject to the scrutiny of others. Practice mindfulness. Experiencing FOMO and comparing yourself unfavourably to others keeps you dwelling on life’s disappointments and frustrations. Instead of being fully engaged in the present, you’re focused on the “what ifs” and the “if only” that prevent you from having a life that matches those you see on social media. By practicing mindfulness, you can learn to live more in the present moment, lessen the impact of FOMO, and improve your overall mental wellbeing. Volunteer. Just as human beings are hard-wired to seek social connection, we’re also hard-wired to give to others. Helping other people or animals not only enriches your community and benefits a cause that’s important to you, but it also makes you feel happier and more grateful.
For general information about addiction:
Information about a range of addictive behaviours and treatments.
Information about drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
NHS Live Well
Advice, tips and tools to help with health and wellbeing.
For people experiencing addiction
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
0800 9177 650
Help and support for anyone with alcohol problems.
Alcohol Change UK
Information and support options for people worried about how much alcohol they are drinking, in both English and Welsh.
Club Drug Clinic
020 3317 3000
Information and support for people worried about their use of recreational drugs. The clinic offers help in the London boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham and Westminster.
Cocaine Anonymous UK
0800 612 0225
Help and support for anyone who wants to stop using cocaine.
0808 808 2234
81066 (text DAN)
A bilingual English and Welsh helpline for anyone in Wales in need of further information or help relating to drugs or alcohol. Also known as the Wales Drug & Alcohol Helpline.
0300 123 6600
Confidential advice and information about drugs, their effects and the law.
Support groups for people who want to stop gambling.
0808 8020 133
Information and support for people who want to stop gambling, including a helpline and online forum.
0300 124 0373
Help for anyone worried about cannabis use.
0300 999 1212
Support for anyone who wants to stop using drugs.
National Problem Gambling Clinic
Treats people with gambling problems living in England and Wales aged 16 and over.
NHS Better Health – Quit smoking
NHS information and advice to help stop smoking.
020 7324 2989
National charity that offers free and confidential advice about drugs and the law.
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
07984 977 884 (Infoline)
Support groups for people with sex and love addictions.
Health and social care services in England for people with a learning disability. Also supports people with mental health problems, drug and alcohol abuse or unemployment.
We Are With You
Supports people with drug, alcohol or mental health problems, and their friends and family.
For friends and family
Information and support for friends and family of people with drug or alcohol problems.
Bereaved through Alcohol and Drugs (BEAD)
Information and support for anyone bereaved through drug or alcohol use.
0207 4984 680
Support for friends and family of people with drug problems.
National Association for Children of Alcoholics
0800 358 3456
Provides information, advice and support for anyone affected by a parent's drinking, including adults.
One of the keys to a better version of you, mentally and physically, is sleeping well. We want all of our industry members to sleep as well as they can that’s why EIC have partnered with Sleepstation. Sleepstation is a clinically validated sleep improvement programme that can help you learn how to control and optimise your sleep to get the best sleep possible. Designed by experts and backed by science, the online service is proven to combat even the most severe insomnia. Their team will help you identify the underlying causes of your sleep problem and provide the personal support and guidance needed to improve your sleep. Sleepstation delivers remote care with a personal touch and that's what makes it so effective. Therapeutic support through Sleepstation is available to those in need and meeting our charity eligibility criteria.