Tips for better mental health Tips and ideas to prevent negative thoughts

Please note: we are not a crisis service. If you, or someone you know, are in crisis, please call an ambulance or the First Response team. These are tips for prevention, we hope they help.

We're not a crisis service at MESMAC, if you feel like you are in crisis, please call the correct people to help you as soon as possible: 

The Samaritans - 116 123

First Response Bradford - 01274 221181

We have been working with gay, bi, and any other man who has sex with men for 30 years and we understand that mental health affects us all, and it affects us all in different ways. Sometimes you need to know that who you're talking to understands your experiences and will listen without judgement. 

We have a counselling service at MESMAC and you can refer yourself through this link

But if you're not ready for counselling, you can have a chat with our team, in an informal, easy 1-2-1 setting (currently Zoom or over the phone!).

Meet the team:

Jonathan Cookson:

"I’m Jonathan and I’m a gay man in my 40’s. I have worked for MESMAC for over 15 years so I have lots of experience of supporting LGBTQ+ communities and individuals. I have experience of supporting people around their mental health and also personal lived experience of some mental health challenges. We are a friendly, knowledgeable and local service, please get in touch if you think we might be able to help."

You can call, text or whatsapp Jonathan on 07810550534

Spring is starting to appear and the lighter nights can be a great opportunity for people to get out of the house and exercise a little! We're not here to tell you to start training for a marathon, but most of us know that it is proven that some physical exercise can drastically improve our mood and well-being.

It's often best to start small, and you don't even need to leave your house to do it! Here are some suggestions for starting small to get those endorphines kicking in:

- Yoga: there are thousands of free yoga videos on Youtube, just search around a find one that works for you! This exercise can vary from very easy to very difficult, and the beauty is, it's up to you how you approach it! You could even find a sun spot in your bedroom to practice in. 

- Dancing in you kitchen: or living room, bedroom, shower, front yard- it's up to you! This might not work for everyone, but if you're in the mood, this could really improve your day!

- Going for a walk: it doesn't have to be a hike, and it doesn't have to be for long, maybe just a short stroll around the block for 15mins could have more of an impact than you might have thought? Or take a walk to the shops where you might usually drive, or bus or taxi to. Especially now the sun is coming through, let's make the most of it!

We love the We Are Undefeatable campaign, encouraging us all to move in ways that make us feel great, we hope you find something there that inspires you.

We know people are starting to worry about their lockdown weight as we are starting to take steps back to normal life, and that can often impact how we feel about food, dieting and our health. 

It isn't always easy to eat 'well' and to know what's 'right' or 'good'. At MESMAC, we're no food experts, but we do know that we feel better when we eat what makes our bodies feel good. 

If you're struggling with your relationship to food, then reach out to a charity like Beat, where they can offer you support, even on Christmas Day. 

If you're struggling to know what to cook on a budget that tastes great and is good for you, then we love Jack Monroe's website, which gives really easy, budget recipes to follow. 

Sleep doesn't come easy for everyone, or for some people, all we can do is sleep, and don't have the energy to do anything else.

As the daylight hours are getting longer, sometimes it can send our sleep out of whack. We might have been hibernating through winter and now wanting to start to get a normal sleeping pattern back. You know what's best for you, but here are some tips for a healthier sleeping pattern, because we know a good night's sleep can give us the energy we need to face the next day.

- Set a general bedtime. It doesn't have to be early, and it doesn't have to be strict, but maybe give yourself an hour to start winding down and getting ready for bed. Our brains love routine, so if we're feeling low, maybe it's worth a try?

- Put those devices down! Scrolling through twitter, instagram or tiktok might seem like a nice way of relaxing, but in reality, looking at other people's lives can often leave us feeling like we're missing out, or we're not good enough. Limit your scrolling in the evening to give your brain a good chance of feeling good before bed. Maybe try a book, audiobook or soothing music to unwind. Maybe even some colouring in could be your thing! 

- Focus on your breathing, not your thoughts. Using mindfulness techniques, breathing can help carry us into that dream state where we can escape for a few hours.

- Try and wake up at the same time each day (even on the weekend!). When our bodies fall into a natural rhythm and routine, we usually find our slip also falls into that routine, and our sleep benefits because of it! We think it's worth a try. 

Here's a great charity that helps the nation sleep better, with some of their tips for better sleep if you want to look into it in more detail. 

There are some links below to our BeResillient website, which is aimed at those living with HIV, but anyone feeling anxious, stressed or depressed might find the activities on there useful:

  • Sleep: Even if you struggle to sleep, trying to, being in bed, closing your eyes and practicing breathing techniques can help us on our way. 
  • Mindfulness: This can often help us get to sleep if we are struggling, and can ground us to prevent us having panic/anxiety attacks during the day. There are plenty of tips on how to practice mindfulness, here's one we created you might like.
  • Meditation and relaxation: We hear all the time how meditation can help us calm our thoughts, here are some resources that might help you understand how to practice meditation in a way that works for you. 
  • Positive affirmations: We can get used to repeating negative thoughts to ourselves, and if we don't balance those out with positive thoughts, then it's understandable that we feel down. Here are some resources on how we can add positive affirmations into our lives easily to help brighten your day. 

The Cellar Trust - Haven is a non-clinical space to go during the day when you're in crisis. They also offer other ongoing mental health support services

Mind Sanctuary - The Sanctuary is a non-clinical space you can access at night time if you are in mental distress. They also offer other, ongoing mental health support services

My Wellbeing College - the Wellbeing College offer a range of guidance on issues such as stress, anxiety and poor sleep. Courses and 121 support can be offered.

Rehab 4 Addiction - founded to assist those affected by substance misuse and their loved ones. We offer a range of services, and help signpost you to the most effective treatments. This includes alcohol rehab, drug rehab, detox services, intervention, aftercare and outpatient counselling.

These charities work all year round offering support to those who need it:

- Papyrus: Helping to prevent suicide in those under 35. They even have a specific service for LGBT+ people if you prefer that.

- Campaign Against Living Miserably: CALM work specifically with and for men who are struggling. They have a chat line, webchat and loads of interesting and useful articles on their website

- SHOUT: if talking over the phone isn't your thing, maybe texting is. SHOUT is a charity that offers support via text round the clock, if you're feeling low but don't want to say it out loud, maybe a text to these guys might help? 

- The Black, African and Asian Therapy Network: BAATN offer therapy for all Black and Brown people, some in a paid for capacity, but they also have a list of resources here for free support.

- BEAT: The eating disorder charity have a phone line and webchat offer for supporting those struggling with their relationship to eating, and this time of year that can be heightened for many. If you're struggling with this this year, then BEAT are there to help. 

- GALLOP: If you're in an LGBTQ+ relationship and are feeling unsure if you are in a healthy relationship, then it's probably worth talking to someone about your worries. GALLOP offer a helpline, an email and also offer case work provision. You're not alone, and GALLOP will not judge you for your identity.