healthy heads & hearts - Belfast - Colin

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HEALTHY HEADS & HEARTS Updated practical advice for taking care of yourself and your family 1



Good mental health


Take 5: A plan to improve well-being


Make time for you


Young people


Food for thought


Alcohol: what’s all the fuss made about drinking?


Early Intervention


Early Warning Signs


Talking to someone who is distressed


Building our resilience


A thought to leave you with: a good laugh goes a long way


Useful contacts


It is well documented that where you live has an effect on your health. Your environment affects your stress levels, blood pressure, risk of certain diseases, and overall well-being. And, while Colin has its challenges, like all areas, it is a place with a long history, strong sense of community, and the facilities and resources that make it a positive place to live. Just take a look around. Colin Neighbourhood Partnership secured funding to build the Celebration of Life Garden (pictured above) in the grounds of St. Luke’s Church in Twinbrook in 2006 in order to remember and celebrate the lives of the many young people from the Colin area who lost their lives in tragic circumstances. Colin Neighbourhood Partnership thought it appropriate to provide the family members of these young people with a place of solace where lives can be celebrated, despite the tragic circumstances. 3

WHO IS THIS BOOKLET FOR? The Leap of Faith sculpture on the Stewartstown Road depicts a group of 22 young people jumping over an obstacle, representing the leap of faith that all young people must take as they mature and enter adulthood. This journey starts with their immediate family, classmates, and community, before taking them into the wider world and the rest of their lives. And it’s this message that drives the reason for the revision of this booklet. That leap of faith may start when we are young, yet the need to strengthen our mental health and well-being lasts a lifetime. It is our hope this booklet helps you with that. So this booklet is for everyone, young and old.


HOW TO USE THIS BOOKLET One a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being poor and 10 being excellent) how would you describe your well-being and mental health? If you are happy with what you chose, how important is it for you to maintain it? If you think you want to improve your mental health, how important is it for you to work on it? Have a read through this booklet and decide what would be useful for you. How you use this information is up to you. We do hope you find it helpful. 5

GOOD MENTAL HEALTH Good mental health is just as important as good physical health. Looking after it should be a priority for everyone. Mental health is not the same as mental illness. ‘Mental Health is the emotional and spiritual resilience which enables us to enjoy life and to survive pain, disappointment and sadness. It is a positive sense of well-being and an underlying belief in our own, and others, dignity and worth.’ (NI Promoting Mental Health Strategy) While we can look after our positive mental health, the World Health Organisation reports that mental health problems are set to increase, largely due to the pace of modern living. This booklet has been designed to help you identify local opportunities where you can find activities or resources that can help strengthen your own or others mental health and resilience.


TAKE 5: A PLAN TO IMPROVE WELL-BEING Looking after our mental health and emotional well-being is central to everything. So how do we do it? Take 5 is a set of practical, evidence-based ways developed by the New Economics Foundation for improving everyone’s mental health and wellbeing. Evidence-based means it’s been proven to work. Connect - With the people around you: with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours, at home, work, school or in your local community. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them.


TAKE 5: A PLAN TO IMPROVE WELL-BEING Be Active - Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Play a game. Dance. Being physical active makes you feel good. Discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness. Take Notice - Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you. Keep Learning - Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun. Give - Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community creates connections with the people around you. Sounds pretty practical doesn’t it. So how do we do it?





Call someone you have not seen in a while.

What are you already doing?

What could you do more of?

Do fun things with your children. Get involved in a group in your community. Be active

Walk to the shop instead of driving. Dance.

Take notice

Look up at what is around you. Enjoy a baby’s smile. Enjoy nature.

Keep learning

Choose something on TV that will teach you something. Read something new.


Smile at someone. Give to charity. Volunteer.


CONNECT: A GOOD PLACE TO START IS THE FAMILY A lot of work in the Colin area is concerned with Early Intervention projects involving children and families. When children were asked, ‘What do you think makes a happy family?’ they answered: • Doing things together • Showing an interest • Talking together (1) Giving time to our children is an important way of showing you care. Eating meals together, talking about the events of the day, doing household chores together, spending a night watching films or playing games are things we do and maybe should do more.

You decide what works best for you. • Families with young children usually spend the most time together because young children need a great deal of physical care and supervision. • Families with teenagers may spend less time together because teens will naturally want to be with their friends. • Single parents need a break from their children and may need opportunity to enjoy the company of other adults. • Couples need time together too.

What if parents have to work or have other demands that make spending time difficult? It’s recognising that our children do need us and making the best use of the time we have. Being there for our children at crucial times of the day has been shown to be a powerful protective factor. These include: • Morning, before they go off to school. • When they come home from school. • Meal times. • When they come home from being out. (2)


Good communication helps make time spent together more positive. • The most important communication skill we have is listening. • Really listening to our kids boosts their self-esteem. It says you value what they have to say. • It helps kids feel understood: a powerful protective factor. (3) (1.) Defrain, J. & Stinnett, N. (1985). Secrets of strong families. Boston: Little, Brown & Company. (2.) Resnick, M. D., Bearman, P., Blum, R. W., Bauman, K. E., Harris, K. M., Jones, J., et al. (1997). Protecting Adolescents from Harm: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. JAMA, 278(10), 823-832. (3.) A protective factor are things we build in our family that reduce the risk of our children getting into bother with issues that worry us, such as drinking or taking drugs. The important word here is reduce the risk. There is no guarantee.


CONNECTING IN OUR COMMUNITY There are a range of opportunities to get involved and connect in the Colin area.

Here are just a few: • Sure Start for both mums and dads with children under 4. • Youth activities at the local youth clubs. • Women’s activities at Footprints Women’s Centre. • Men’s sheds: Different activities 5 days a week at various venues in the Colin area. For men aged 18+. Contact Scap at Colin Neighbourhood Partnership for info. • Care in the Community: volunteers and befrienders for older people. • Good Morning Colin: A way to break isolation for older people. 12

Hobbies are also a great way to meet people, make new friends, and express yourself. There are lots of opportunities to learn painting, creative writing, dance, music and singing. The Colin Community Allotments on the Colin Glen Road on the outskirts of Poleglass opened in 2011 and transformed an underused 8 acre site into one of the very best allotment sites in Ireland. The main purposes of the allotments are to provide greater opportunities for you to engage in community activities, to create a welcoming, shared space in which all age groups can prosper, and to build relationships within our community. Community events are held throughout the year, visit for information.


BE ACTIVE Physical activity is often referred to as a ‘wonder drug’. Being physically active on a regular basis can help you feel good and even prevent and manage some health conditions. Most of us don’t get enough physical activity. Even though people can be busy and on their feet a lot, most don’t do enough activity to benefit their health. There are a range of organised activities. Where are there they? Sally Gardens Community Centre in Poleglass runs activities including spin classes, boxercise, circuit training, hip hop dance sessions and a 60+ group. Tel: 028 9062 7250. Colin Valley Football Club has senior and junior team practice at Colin Valley pitches. Tel: 075 9364 5364. Glendowan Football Club has weekly team practice at the Brook Activity Centre. Visit their facebook page for details. Brook Activity Centre, Twinbrook has a hi-tech fitness suite, a 16-station facility includes a range of cardiovascular equipment with qualified staff on hand to ensure the maximum enjoyment and benefit to all users. Tel: 028 9560 9988 Saints Youth Centre, Twinbrook, offers personal development, sport, boxing, art & crafts, dance & drama. Tel: 028 9030 1037 The great outdoors - There are a range of lovely safe, places to walk and the good news is they are free. Walks include: - Colin Glen Forest Park, Stewartstown Road, Belfast - Highway to Health 1K walking route from Brooke Activity Centre, Twinbrook - Belfast Hills Summit Walk and Ridge Trail Walk - Local walking groups – contact Scap at Colin Neighbourhood Partnership for details


TAKE NOTICE How many nice things pass our gaze every day? Do we notice or are we too busy? Notice positive things: pay attention to those little things that make you smile or feel good. Note when they happen; a good TV show that made you laugh, seeing something pretty, something nice to eat or drink, warm sunshine on your face. Find some way to express what you did or saw that was positive. Telling someone or writing it down makes the positive effect even stronger. But do more than just give it a passing glance. To make the most of it; • Take in the good: Notice it. Having a good experience in the first place • Enrich it: helping it last 10 or more seconds while you experience it • Absorb it: sensing that it’s sinking into you. The challenge of making a list of possible nice things to notice is we are all different. What puts a smile on one person’s face may not work the same way for other people. You choose what you enjoy. That’s the only way this will work for you.


KEEP LEARNING New hobbies allow us to learn a new skill or take on a challenge. You could take on something different at work or learn to cook a new recipe. Learning improves your mental fitness, while striving to meet your own goals builds skills and confidence and gives you a sense of progress and achievement. The Colin Glen Library in the Dairy Farm is a great place to develop a fresh interest or to begin learning something new. The Colin Area Men’s Shed offers educational and heritage craft workshops to its members. Ionad Na Fuiseoige, in Twinbrook, runs a traditional and contemporary music school each week. Call 028 9062 0373 for details. Colin Neighbourhood Partnership runs a calendar of training throughout the year, download it from A variety of horticultural and cookery lessons are on offer throughout the year at the Colin Allotments. Call 028 90612317 for details. Many local organisations offer training and opportunities for learning, contact each centre directly for more information.

Enjoy yourself Set aside time for activities, hobbies and projects you enjoy. Let yourself be spontaneous and creative when the urge takes you. Do a crossword; take a walk in the park; read a book; sew a quilt; draw pictures with your kids; play with your pets – whatever takes your fancy. These days, we seem to value our lives and ourselves more based on how busy we are, rather than what we are busy with; we work longer hours, we eat on the go, and we sleep less... It is very easy to pay less and less attention to the things that give us the most pleasure and to neglect the hobbies and interests that make us who we are. 16

GIVE Being kind to others, whether friends or strangers, triggers loads of positive effects. It makes you feel generous and capable. It gives you a greater sense of connection with others. It wins you smiles, approval, and reciprocated kindness. Giving or acts of kindness can be both random (let that harried mum go ahead of you in the checkout line) and planned (bring Sunday tea to an elderly neighbour). Volunteering is a very structured way to give. There are over 200 volunteers in the Colin area who provide support to many of the local voluntary groups and provide a range of services in the fields of youth, sport, disability, health, community safety and those supporting the elderly and vulnerable adults in our community. If you are interested in volunteering with Colin Neighbourhood Partnership or would like to find out more about the volunteer opportunities within the Colin area, contact the Volunteer Development Worker on 028 9062 3813 or email [email protected]


MAKE TIME FOR YOU Relaxation is an important part of looking after your mental health. Why is it important? • It helps to develop stress relieving techniques • Aids restful sleep • Decreases anxiety • Eases aches and pains of mental worry/tension – i.e. headaches, backache, and tight chest. Relaxation can mean different things to different people and what one person sees as relaxing could be the opposite for another. It is also a skill, so it takes practice.

Nick Baylis writes in his ‘Rough Guide to Happiness’: “All aspects of our lives can benefit from learning how to relax – our work, play and loving; our eating, thinking and talking; our singing, dancing, passions, and falling asleep: our connection with life is seriously improved by relaxing, and thank goodness, these skills can be learned.” What do you do that you find relaxing?


YOUNG PEOPLE Youth Services in Colin play an important role in promoting positive mental health and well-being in children and young people, especially outside school hours, through centre-based work, youth clubs, detached youth work, project work, area-based work and group work. Through involvement in youth work programmes young people can: • Build resilience skills which enables them to move through the various transitions/stages of life • Meet in a safe place where they can be supported or signposted to other services • Develop skills: confidence, teamwork, motivation, leadership • Gain accredited qualifications in a range of areas: peer mentoring, leadership in youth work, citizenships • Meet new people and build friendships across a variety of situations • Experience travel both locally and internationally • Be part of the local community through community based initiatives • Take part in developmental group work programmes: Young Women’s programmes, Young Men’s groups, sport and recreations activities, creative arts, drug and alcohol programmes, building healthy relationships. Young people who need additional support to deal with issues can access professional counselling services at Colin Community Counselling and New Life Counselling at the Colin Youth Development Centre.

There’s so much to19live for

FOOD FOR THOUGHT Food & Mood It’s generally accepted that how we feel can influence what we choose to eat or drink (mood to food). What is less well known is how what we eat can affect our mental functioning (food to mood). Many people have found they can link eating (or not eating) certain foods with how they feel and significant improvement to a wide range of mental health problems can result from making changes with what we eat.

Which foods do I need to eat in order to feel well? The most vital substance for a healthy mind and body is water. It’s easy to overlook drinking the recommended six to eight glasses, per day, which is a low-cost, convenient, self-help measure that can quickly change how we feel, mentally as well as physically. Having a minimum of five portions, daily, of fresh fruit and vegetables provides the nutrients needed to nourish mind and body. (One portion equals about a handful.) Keep an eye on your sugar intake as it’s the culprit of a range of problems. Also keep regular meal times and choose foods that release energy slowly, such as oats and unrefined wholegrains. It’s also important to eat some protein foods, such as meat, fish, beans, eggs, cheese, nuts or seeds, every day.


ALCOHOL: WHAT IS ALL THE FUSS ABOUT DRINKING? Alcohol is popular in Northern Ireland. For adults it’s legal and socially acceptable to drink alcohol. Yet there is another side...alcohol misuse costs Northern Ireland almost £900m a year. In 2013 there were 236 alcohol related deaths and almost 12,000 admissions to hospital due to alcohol. These figures are sadly rising. Alcohol is a causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions. In 2010, alcohol use was the third leading risk factor contributing to the global burden of disease after high blood pressure and smoking. Alcohol in moderation can be low risk; however it can easily be misused. The Department of Health recommends that people follow sensible drinking guidelines to control and monitor the amount of alcohol they drink and to lessen risk. These guidelines were updated in January 2016.

If you think your drinking is getting out of hand or becoming a problem visit where you can find information and self-help. To find out where to get help for family members have a look at


EARLY INTERVENTION There is a unique social project underway here in Colin: the area has been designated as an ‘Early Intervention Community’. This means putting a special focus on the needs of children, parents, and guardians, from prior to a child’s birth, through childhood, and adolescence, leading to either work or further education. In effect, children will be aided from the moment they are born until they are 18 years old and are ready to find their own way in the world. Being an Early Intervention Community offers new ways of dealing with issues in the area that have long proved extremely difficult to change, despite considerable resources from the statutory, community, and voluntary sector. The main difference through this project, will be local public investment: in health, education, and employment. This community will see a collaboration of all these agencies. The early intervention programme will see children, parents, and families receive intensive services for the first two years of a child’s life. This will include education on being a parent; encouraging the father or guardian to be more involved in the child’s life; family support and advice, as well as speech and language services. As the child grows, the provision and subjects will change to reflect its development, but the emphasis on the child’s needs will remain a constant. The expectation is that the adult that emerges from this concentrated attention will be a more rounded individual and more able to make a positive contribution to their community. For more information contact David Simpson at Colin Neighbourhood Partnership on 028 9062 3813 or email [email protected]


EARLY WARNING SIGNS As we conclude this booklet we wanted to finish with some early warning signs that may indicate someone may need extra support and that their mental health may be affected. The idea behind this: get support early rather than later. What to look for? • mood swings or a consistently lower mood • lack of looking after appearance or personal responsibilities • increased use of alcohol or other drugs • talking about not wanting to live • a loss of interest in doing things you previously enjoyed • withdrawing from social activities or spending less time with family and friends • disturbed sleep, perhaps not getting enough sleep or sleeping too much • eating less than normal or overeating, perhaps losing or gaining weight • being more irritable, over-sensitive or aggressive • having difficulty following a conversation, remembering things or concentrating • experiencing recurrent physical symptoms such as aches and pains or unexplained illnesses • hearing or seeing things that no-one else can hear or see.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these then help is available.


HOW DO YOU TALK TO SOMEONE WHO IS DISTRESSED? There are times when people close to us will get distressed. The biggest strength we have to give someone in distress is to listen. The Chinese symbol for listening includes the symbols for ears, eyes, undivided attention, and heart. When we listen effectively we use all four. Active listening is a skill we can all be better at. There is training available; contact the Health Development Department in the South Eastern Trust on 028 9151 0275. Mental Health First Aid – 2 full days training course covers the symptoms of mental health problems, an awareness of how to provide initial help and how to guide people to appropriate help. Safe Talk (three hour course) prepares anyone over the age of 15 to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to help. Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) - This training increases the confidence to ask someone you are concerned about regarding suicide and covers tools to help prevent the immediate risk of suicide. The courses above regularly take place in the Colin area. Visit for newly added dates.

“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger - but recognize the opportunity.” John F. Kennedy.


IF YOU ARE WORRIED THAT SOMEONE YOU KNOW MAY BE FEELING SUICIDAL • Do something. Take warning signs seriously. Reaching out could save a life. Seek urgent help if it is needed by calling 999, take the person to your nearest emergency department or call Lifeline 0808 808 8000. • Ask if they are thinking of suicide. Talking about suicide will not put the idea into their head but will encourage them to talk about their feelings. Don’t agree to keep it a secret since the person’s safety is your main concern. • Acknowledge your reaction. You might panic or want to ignore the situation. If you are struggling, get the help of a trusted friend. • Be there for them. Spend time with the person, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling, identify who they can call on for support and encourage the person to agree to get further support. • Check out their safety. Ask how much thought the person has put into taking their own life. If you are really worried don’t leave the person alone. Remove any means of suicide available including weapons, medications, alcohol and other drugs, even access to car. • Decide what to do. Discuss together what action to take. You may need the help of others (partners, parents, close friends or someone else) to persuade the person to get professional help. Only by sharing this information can you make sure the person gets the help and support they need. • Take action. Encourage the person to get help from a local health professional such as a GP, telephone helpline service. • Ask for a promise. Ask the person to promise they will tell someone if suicidal thoughts return. This will make it more likely they will seek help. • Look after yourself. It is difficult and emotionally draining to support someone who is suicidal, don’t do it on your own. Find someone to talk to, friends, family or a health professional. • Stay involved. Thoughts of suicide do not disappear easily. The continuing involvement of family and friends is important to recovery. 25

BUILDING OUR RESILIENCE Resilience is having the strengths that help us with the pressures of life. These strengths are like a set of tools in us all. We all begin building these strengths early in life. Some people continue to build these strengths throughout their lives. For some people, however, these strengths get weakened and get lost from view. The good news is we can build these strengths at any age. To do this we have to know how, and put the effort into building them. There are many ways to do this and very often it can start with very simple things. If you want to build your own resilience, or those you look after, have a look at these booklets. They can be downloaded free at www.setrust.hscni. net under the Healthy Living Tab (Building Resilience).


A THOUGHT TO LEAVE YOU WITH: A GOOD LAUGH GOES A LONG WAY Researchers have found that laughter activates areas of the brain in a similar way to meditation. Humour reduces detrimental stress hormones like cortisol, lowers your blood pressure, and increases blood flow which can improve your mood. “That act of laughter — or simply enjoying some humour — increases the release of endorphins and dopamine in the brain, which provides a sense of pleasure and reward.” In turn, higher levels of these hormones, responsible for feeling uplifted, increase brain wave activity. Both meditation and laughter do this. So it is important to have a good laugh on a regular basis.


USEFUL CONTACTS Alcoholics Anonymous 028 9043 4848 Alcohol and You 0800 2545 123 ASCERT 028 9260 4422 Caring Communities Safe & Well 028 9756 6934 Citizens Advice 0300 1233 233 Colin Area Men’s Shed 028 9062 3813 Colin Community Counselling 028 9060 4347 Colin Neighbourhood Partnership 028 9062 3813 Colin Sure Start 028 9060 1417 DAISY Project 0800 254 5123 Emergency services 999 Falls Community Council 028 9020 2030 Footprints Women’s Centre 028 9092 3444 Gamblers Anonymous 028 9024 9185 Good Morning Colin 028 9062 7863 Life Line (24hr service) 0808 808 8000 (free number) MACS Supporting Young People 028 9031 3163 Narcotics Anonymous 078 1017 2991 Parents Advice Centre 0808 801 0722 (free number) Saints Youth Centre 028 9030 1037


Sally Gardens 028 9062 7250 SEELB Colin Youth Development Centre Hub 028 9062 9799 SEHSCT Health Development Specialist for Suicide Prevention 028 9250 1373 Suicide Awareness Support Group 028 9023 9967 Samaritans 08457 909090 Well-being Hub at Stewartstown Rd Health Centre 028 9060 2705 Women’s Aid 028 9066 6049 Women’s Aid 24-hour service 0808 802 1414 Youth Initiatives 028 9030 1174

Christ the Redeemer Parish 028 9030 9011 Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish 028 9061 6300 Parish of the Nativity 028 9062 5739 St. Luke’s Parish 028 9061 9459

Woodbrook Medical Centre 028 9060 2931 Out of Hours GP - Belfast 028 9074 4447 Out of Hours GP - Lisburn 028 9260 2204


IN THE CASE OF MORE URGENT SUPPORT AND ADVICE CONTACT Your GP or the out of hours GP service. The Emergency Department of your local hospital. Lifeline: 0808 808 8000. Domestic Violence Helpline 0800 917 1414 (Your number will not appear dialling 1471).


USEFUL WEBSITES For a range of helpful information and resources have a look at the South Eastern Trust’s website under the Health Living Tab: Minding your head - Alcohol and You - Lifeline - Samaritans - Helplines NI - Online directory of services -


This booklet was produced by Colin Neighbourhood Partnership’s Suicide Prevention Task Group, September 2016. Colin Neighbourhood Partnership Cloona House, 31 Colin Road, Belfast BT17 0LG Tel: 028 9062 3813