Living with mental illness is not easy. It’s a consistent problem without a clear solution. While medication and therapies are incredibly helpful, some people who experience mental health conditions need to do more day-in and day-out to feel good or even just okay.

Finding the right coping mechanism takes time and patience but it can make a huge impact on how you might feel.

Self-help suggestions such as exercise and meditation are useful and work for many people. Finding the right coping mechanism can work too. One such example is deep breathing as a way to calm anxiety :  breathe in for 5 seconds – hold for 3 seconds – breathe out for 7 seconds; the gentle repetition sends a message to the brain that everything is ok, your heart will slow and you will begin to relax.

If you live in denial of your emotions it will take far longer to take care of them, and be in touch with them. Accepting you are feeling a certain way, letting yourself feel that way and then taking action to diminish unhealthy feelings. You can’t control that you have a mental illness but you can control how you respond to your symptoms. This is not simple or easy but learning, practising and perfecting coping techniques can help you feel better emotionally, spiritually and physically.

Fortunately there is growing recognition of the importance of helping people build mental resilience from the earliest age in order to cope with today’s challenges. Promoting and protecting health brings benefits not just to people’s health, both in the short and long-term but to making greater contributions to adolescent health, the workforce, families and communities and society as a whole.

Prevention begins with being aware of and understanding the early warning signs and symptoms of mental illness to build life skills to help cope with everyday challenges

Community Connections in Surrey ( is one way to find support to cope with daily challenges. Provided by Catalyst in North West Surrey, Guildford and Waverley and Surrey Heath and Farnham, Mary Frances Trust for Mole Valley and Richmond Fellowship for the East of the County, Catalyst funds 10 partners to support delivery of the service. The team supports mental health and emotional wellbeing from one-to-one support, support groups, drop-in services, walking groups, art groups, mindfulness, social events, confidence building, signposting to local agencies and peer support.

Delivery supports people who may feel lonely and isolated to interact with other local citizens in enjoying a group or activity to build confidence, remain physically active to keep fighting symptoms in the hope of feeling better; offering an alternative to receiving a medical prescription.

The following poem encapsulates daily thoughts of how we believe people around us are coping without realising that if people say they are okay they may just not be okay. We should celebrate our differences and not focus on them as negative but positive characteristics. It should be remembered that there is always someone we can talk to, from a trusted friend to a stranger you may sit next to on the bus; it is okay not to be okay.

For anyone seeking out of hours help and support and who are experiencing a mental health crisis or emotional distress in Surrey, there are 5 Safe Havens; Aldershot, Guildford, Woking, Epsom and Redhill.

Open evenings, weekends and bank holidays, they are designed to give adults a safe alternative to A&E when in crisis; each Safe Haven is staffed by a mental health practitioner and wellbeing workers.


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