Volume 1 • Issue 4 • 2007

Welcome to Overcoming
The monthly newsletter for primary care mental health workers

As publishers of the Overcoming series – a range of self-help guides and assisted self-help courses based on CBT techniques – we aim to broaden access to assisted self-help by providing excellent resources and support to people working on the front line. This is our fourth newsletter and we’re going to use it to give you information about one of the most important dates in the mental health calendar. Both World Mental Health Day and European Depression Day will take place on 10 October. We’d love to hear what you’ve got planned for these days, and how it goes, so let us know by emailing nova@overcoming.co.uk.

World Mental Health Day
10 October

When World Mental Health Day was launched in 1992, it had no themes except to challenge stigma and educate the public about relevant issues. As the campaign grew, it developed an annual focus, and this year’s theme is Mental Health in a Changing World: The Impact of Culture and Diversity.

The World Federation for Mental Health, which organises the day, provides a comprehensive package of resources, so if you’d like to get involved simply visit http://www.wfmh.org/wmhday/about.html. No activity is too small, as the Federation itself says:

“We are well aware of the large national campaigns that take place in countries ranging from Norway to Australia and New Zealand. But we particularly like the smaller activities that take place in many countries and show a special commitment. We like the support in the tiny Pacific island of Palau, where the government prints a Mental Health Day message on government pay stubs for that week. We are also more amazed to learn about World Mental Health Day banners in Kathmandu than about the posters in London. We are surprised when the first report after 10 October arrives from Benin in West Africa. Who would expect to find a small but varied program of activities in Turkmenistan? And least likely of all – we were impressed to learn that a committed mental health nurse called Michael Kamau organizes a whole week of activities and educational events in the huge Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya. It is the small events as well as the large campaigns that give World Mental Health Day its global reach.”

European Depression Day
10 October

Now in its fourth year, the European Depression Day campaign raises awareness of depression through a network of scientific advisors and patient groups. The fundamental principle behind the campaign is that through collaborative working everyone can maximise resources, react strategically, lobby effectively, and create a better environment for those affected by depression. To find out more about the campaign visit http://www.eddas.org

Congratulations to...
Suzi Harrison and Sarah Hayes, winners of the Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness competition in Issue 3.

If you weren’t one of our lucky winners then don’t worry. Here’s this issue’s competition. If you can tell us what the 2006 theme of World Mental Health Day was, and are the first to be drawn from the hat on September 25, we’ll send you a free copy of Overcoming Depersonalization and Feelings of Unreality. Email your answers to newseditor@overcoming.co.uk.

Feeling numb
Has a client ever told you that they feel emotionally numb and separate from the world – unreal, even? Depersonalisation Disorder and Feelings of Unreality (DPAFU) are estimated to affect one in a hundred in the UK. DPAFU can be a symptom of another disorder, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or, particularly, panic disorder, as well as of physical illnesses such as epilepsy or migraine. It can also occur in its own right and among users of certain drugs.

Written by leading experts, Overcoming Depersonalization and Feelings of Unreality explains how DPAFU arises, who is most likely to be affected and the possible symptoms. Using case studies, questionnaires and exercises to illustrate the difficulties that sufferers face, and offering practical, step-by-step advice, the authors help develop vital skills to understand and manage DPFAU. If you don’t win one in the above competition, visit amazon.co.uk to purchase your copy.

10 steps to running a successful campaign on a shoestring
Raising awareness does not have to cost a fortune, and it can have a real impact – not just on how mental health service users are perceived and supported in the wider community but also on how you are.

The following is a guide to the essentials of running a campaign, but if you have a specific question do feel free to email us at the usual address.

  • Use the campaign organiser’s resources – often the organiser will be able to offer you template leaflets and posters. They may even have free t-shirts and other merchandise if you are planning a high-profile event. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
  • Join forces – other people in your locality may also be planning an event, and joining forces halves the work. Check out what the Health Promotions Officer, patient groups and local charities are up to.
  • Define your audience – the scattergun approach never works well, so decide which group of people you really want to raise awareness amongst, and focus you energies.
  • Target your audience – how can you best reach your audience? If you want to target GPs then try to get a piece in The Times. If you want to grab parents’ attention, then have a stand in a playground. Find out what your target audience usually do and catch them unawares.
  • Stick to three key messages – the most successful campaigns try to promote only three key messages, and repeat them until they stick. A campaign should change the opinion, understanding and behaviour of your target audience. An example of key messages for a depression campaign would be: depression is an illness; it can be treated; if you think you may know someone with depression encourage them to see their GP.
  • Recruit ambassadors – it is important to understand how your target audience can be influenced. If you are trying to educate your local community then invite the relevant community leaders to contribute to your campaign plan and become spokespeople.
  • Gather statistics – statistics and facts add weight to your campaign and can be used to put what you are saying into context. If you want your local MP to support you (especially useful if you plan on doing any media work) then it might help if they know, for instance, that one in four of their constituents will be affected by a mental health problem.
  • Use the media – it is free to send a press release, and local journalists are often very happy to support a local campaign. Most campaign organisers will have a template press release you can use. Don’t forget to target radio and TV, as well as community bulletins and publications.
  • Let everyone know what you are doing – develop a snappy form of words to describe what you are doing and why, and use it on everyone you come across. You could even add it to your email signature. We call this “the elevator conversation”, because it should last no longer than 30 seconds.
  • Measure your success – when developing your campaign think about the outcomes you want. When the campaign has finished, judge your success and use what you have learned to create an even better campaign in 2008!

Recommended reading
Overcoming’s planned new online resource for PCMHWs will feature a list of books recommended for use in specific fields, as chosen by our authors. This issue's category is Depersonalisation Disorder and Feelings of Unreality, and includes the following titles.

  • D. Burns. 10 Days to Great Self-Esteem. Vermillion (2000)
  • W. Dryden. Handbook of Individual Therapy. Sage (2002)
  • D.A. Greenberger and C.A. Padesky. Mind over Mood: Change How You Feel By Changing The Way You Think. Guilford Press (1995)
  • J. Kabat-Zinn. Full Catastrophe Living. Piatkus (1996)
  • D. Simeon and J. Abugel. Feeling Unreal: Depersonalization Disorder and the Loss of the Self. Oxford University Press (2006)
  • A. Wells. Cognitive Therapy of Anxiety Disorders: A Practice Manual and Conceptual Guide. Wiley (1997)

Relevant books in the Overcoming series

  • C. Espie. Overcoming Insomnia and Sleep Problems (2006)
  • M. Fennell. Overcoming Low Self-Esteem (1999)
  • P. Gilbert. Overcoming Depression (2000)
  • C. Herbert and A. Wetmore. Overcoming Traumatic Stress (1999)
  • H. Kennerley. Overcoming Anxiety (1997)
  • H. Kennerley. Overcoming Childhood Trauma (2000)

What's in your diary?
September 2007

21/9 • World Alzheimer’s Day


Quote of the month

We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.

Anaïs Nin

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