Burn-out is now recognised by World Health Organisation

An article from the Counselling Directory magazine ‘Happiful’ highlights that burn-out is now officially recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a medical condition. These are four factors which the WHO identifies as characterising the condition:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • increased mental distance from one’s job
  • feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • reduced professional efficacy.

This new recognition does not officially take effect until January 2022, when the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11)  replaces the previous version ICD-10. The WHO is also careful to point out that this would be a work-related medical condition and is not applicable to other life situations.

Changing supervisor

A recent article about changing clinical supervisors is available in the June 2019 issue of Therapy Today (Bean, L. and Perkins, K. 2019. Time to Change? Therapy Today 30:5). The article is currently only available to BACP members but it is worth checking out as it provides a useful outline of what we can expect from our clinical supervisors and/or what we should be offering as clinical supervisors. I particularly liked this:

“A good enough supervisor:

  • has up-to-date skills, knowledge and expertise in our therapeutic modality
  • can speak about differences in thinking and approach in a spirit of enquiry and non-judgement (especially if from a different therapeutic modality)
  • validates our work and challenges both thinking and practice
  • conducts meetings in an atmosphere of respect, openness and curiosity that encourages our development1
  • demonstrates attunement to us
  • maintains boundaries and focus
  • canvasses for and accepts feedback.”

It also provides a handy list of BACP resources relating to supervision.

Is ‘Inspirational’ always a compliment?

I was shown this image the other day… it feels so spot-on.

Please have a read of the Instagram poster’s words that accompany the image to gain some insight into why being called inspirational or strong or brave can sometimes achieve the opposite of what most people are hoping to achieve when saying these words…

It’s also worth browsing through the other images on this Instagram account!

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Today is something like #internationaldisabilityday #internationaldayofdisability #internationaldayofdisabledpersons #internationaldayofdisabledpeople I wanted to mark the day by acknowledging an alienating compliment that I get pretty much every week. I also want to acknowledge that some of my disabled friends do enjoy being called strong/brave/inspirational and that’s absolutely not a problem with me, we all deserve to define our own boundaries. I guess I struggle with it because all I’d rather be complimented for something that I want to be good at, rather than something I have no choice about that I just do to survive. [simple illustration of person lying in bed with sign in their head that reads “it has been __ days since an abled called me inspirational”] I used the word “abled” because it’s shorthand for ‘able bodied’, which refers to people without disability. I won’t ever be hurt or annoyed if I’m called this but it is dehumanising and it misses the nuance of my experience and the experiences of many other disabled people. I also wanted to add that I’ve drawn the person in the bed because that’s pretty much what my disability looks like most of the time, it’s my normal. I didn’t want to use an image of disability that I didn’t personally experience. #inspirationporn #disabledpeople #disabilitymatters #invisibledisability #sickbed #pleasedontcallmeinspirational #disablednotunable #includedisabledvoices

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Global Drug Survey 2019

Have you ever completed the Global Drug Survey (GDS)? Well, if not, now’s your chance: https://www.globaldrugsurvey.com/

As they say on the website: “Share your story with us and help us create change that help people have happier lives and policy that supports health well being, not punishment and stigmatization.”

The GDS is a valuable resource for people like me because I sometimes work with people struggling with alcohol and other drug use problems.

I also try to complete it every year, as it gives me a chance to reflect on my alcohol use, and also because it is an education in the new drugs that are out there.

If you’ve got the time and inclination, give it a go…


Net Worth vs. Self Worth

This article in the Guardian gives a snapshot view of the idea that the pursuit of material wealth in a time of economic uncertainty is having a negative impact on our individual and collective mental health:


I particularly like the conclusion:
“… it is high time for an inequality therapy that doesn’t fault people for being crushed by an inhumane marketplace – but instead recognizes that it is the system, not the self, that is broken.”

In therapy, we inevitably work on our ourselves as individuals, but I hope that we can also empower ourselves to address systemic and societal concerns that are contributing to our mental ill-health and general malaise.


Anxiety Hot Spots

I love this image – it’s a handy way reminder to check in with how we are feeling physically and, possibly, reduce some of our anxiety by acknowledging the physical tension and releasing it, if possible…

Gratitude in the Spiral

Earlier today, I was reminded of Joanna Macey’s Work that Reconnects, specifically The Spiral:

The Spiral

All of us will be able to use different frameworks for reflection and/or problem solving at different times in our lives, and what I like about the Spiral is its simplicity. Starting from a place of gratitude echoes ideas put forth by many therapeutic approaches: Start with identifying the resources we already have and build our resilience by acknowledging and appreciating them. It is important to strengthen our resilience before tackling difficult emotions and/or problems so that we don’t become overwhelmed.

When we’re feeling depressed and anxious, or we’re in a great deal of pain and distress, it can be hard to remember what it is we can be grateful for so I’d like to suggest that it is good mental health hygiene to start a daily gratitude exercise. I have a ‘gratititude jar’ – every morning I write down one thing I am grateful for from the previous day on a small piece of paper, then place it in an old Mason jar, which sits beside my desk. I get a great sense of wellbeing from this exercise, and it gives me more energy to start my day. Conversely, when I struggle to remember what I am grateful for, or I skip the exercise altogether, I take this as a sign that something is amiss and I set aside some time, as soon as possible, to reflect on what is troubling me.

There are many examples of gratitude jars online, but it is simple and cheap: a big enough container to hold a year’s worth of paper slips, scrap paper, a pen or pencil, and a few minutes at some point in the day or night to do the exercise. I find doing it in the morning helps energise me, but it may work better for some people to do it right before bedtime, so you can drift off with a pleasant thought in your mind…

We’re off to OffGrid…

For the third year in a row, my partner and I are off to OffGrid to spend time with people doing great stuff, dance to some great bands, and run some workshops.

We are running two workshops that we did last year, plus a new one about loss, grief, trauma and building resilience.

Here’s a link to our flyer:OG18_3workshops

Here’s a link to the support organisations leaflet we distribute at OffGrid: support_organisations_offgrid2018

Here are the workshop details:
People Care: Three Workshops Building Resilience
(in the struggle for another, better, world)

It’s good to talk! These are faciltated, participatory discussion workshops, not lectures. We live in a crazy & fast changing world, and the often toxic and harmful nature of much social media interaction only serves to heighten our sense of alienation & isolation.
At Off-Grid 2018 we’ll all find a range of activities, experiences & approaches that together offer us a holistic approach to ‘people care’. A key part of that is collective discussion & debate, in a respectful, open & supportive way – tackling issues & life experiences that can derail both our lives and dreams…and finding solutions!
Whilst these three workshops are connected, each one is a stand alone event.
So come along to one, two or all three of the workshops…you choose!

Off-Grid venue – The Nourish Tent
Fri 10th at 2:30 – 4:00pm:
Activist Burnout – what is it & what can we do about it?
We’ll collectively define burnout; sharing our experiences, we’ll identify the signs it’s approaching, and work out ways together to avoid it, or at least lessen its impact!

Sat 11th at 11:30 – 1:00pm:
Activism and Alcohol – a Recipe for Fun, or Disaster?
We’ll look at the pros & cons of alcohol in the activist context; consider who gains most from the relationship between social movements & the alcohol industry; and ask what alternatives there may be? Drinkers, non-drinkers & occassional tiplers all welcome.

Sun 12th at 11:30 – 1:00pm:
Loss, grief, trauma, change and resilience – a discussion
We’ll collectively identify the varied experiences of loss, grief, trauma & change; and consider how we can best cope with and respond to them, to sustain our dreams and struggles for a better life & world.

Please arrive on time!
Because of the potentially personal nature of these discussions, and the flow of the workshop, it can be difficult to integrate latecomers into the workshops.

How we talk about suicide on social media…

Content note: references to suicide

With the recent death of Anthony Bourdain, many people took to social media to express their grief. A high profile death can bring people together on social media, expressing support for each other while talking about individual and personal struggles with suicidal thoughts.

It’s also a good reminder to check in on our friends and family, offering to listen to any distress they are experiencing and ask how we can help, while also telling them how much we love them.

However, we need to be careful how we talk about suicide. Whether or not we consider social media to be ‘publishing’ platforms, it can be helpful to keep in mind the Samaritans guidelines on suicide reporting.

In particular, it is useful to be mindful of these points:
“Don’t brush over the complex realities of suicide and its impact on those left behind. Remember that people bereaved by suicide are often vulnerable and are more likely to take their own lives than the general population.”
“Speculation about the ‘trigger’ for a suicide, even if provided by a close family member, should be avoided.”

Although the standards of behaviour on social media can leave a lot to be desired, at times of loss and distress, maybe we can all be a bit kinder to each other…

For further support, please have a look at these websites:



Money and our mental health

I want to highlight this website resource:

Many of the people I work with are experiencing challenges around money.

Sometimes this is because of the increasing difficulties in accessing benefits, or because of a lack of paid work and/or being underpaid at work, or due to pre-existing debt. The people I meet through my work with problem-gambling often tell me that they started gambling in the hope of getting extra money to pay off debts and/or to meet a new financial challenge, liking needing to replace their car. The financial debt that problem-gambling can often create then becomes a trigger in itself to gamble more, in the hope of winning enough money to pay off the gambling debt.

All these situations can be extremely stressful and can feel shaming, so I want to draw people’s attention that there is help and advice out there and encourage people to ask for help. Please have a look at the Money and Mental Health website or Money Saving Expert guide to mental health and debt:
or ring the National Gambling Helpline: 0808 8020 133 if you are concerned about problem-gambling (yours or that of someone close to you).