The mission of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is to let everyone living in loneliness know that their mental health matters, while raising awareness of the impact of loneliness and the practical steps we can take to address it…
One in four adults feel lonely some or all of the time. There is no single cause and there’s no one solution. But, the longer we feel lonely, the more we are at risk of mental health problems. Some people are also at higher risk of feeling lonely than others. After all, no two people are quite the same.
X-Forces Enterprise has supported entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes, from diverse backgrounds, some of whom have faced daunting challenges during and post-service.
As committed supporters, we cannot possibly comprehend the struggles and the torment of those who have battled PTSD, but we consider ourselves enormously privileged to be close enough to admire and be inspired by their achievements.
Many psychologists emphasise the importance of celebrating successes, both large and small, explaining that this builds resilience by teaching us to learn and adapt, as well as informing our brains of what solutions to seek. They argue that this inspires us to replicate these actions over and over again. Here, we have chosen to share the successes of members of our extraordinary community.
Soldiering On Awards winner John Geden, a veteran of both the British Army and Hampshire Police, was diagnosed with PTSD caused by traumatic experiences during his service. He took an unconventional yet fulfilling route to recovery, initially through a resettlement course in beekeeping. John was captivated by the bees, and this soon evolved into a business, as well as a way to give back to the community and a locus where he could find peace.
As John says:
"I feel safe next to an open beehive, after all, who is going to come and bother me!"
In addition to selling honey at food fairs, farmers markets, and through retailers, John's company Sinah Common Honey also produces beeswax candles, wedding favours, and runs beekeeping courses for beginners and more seasoned apiarists:
"I am humbled by the people I work with; their stories are quite remarkable and it is an honour for me to run courses that may just help relax troubled minds and focus them on something natural and amazing.”
When Nigel Seaman's military service came to a close, he became a prison officer, but this second career ended in medical retirement when Nigel began suffering from depression, anxiety and flashbacks from an incident experienced during his time on operations with the Armed Forces. A private counsellor referred him to Combat Stress and he was accepted onto a 6-week trauma related course that kickstarted his recovery process. It was during this challenging programme that Nigel was inspired to create a vehicle for fellow veterans who may be struggling with life outside of service. Now, Nigel runs the award-winning not-for-profit Combat2Coffee, a mobile coffee shop and barista training course provider:
"With coffee comes conversation," Nigel explains. "The mobile unit is a friendly, safe zone; somewhere veterans can talk openly, and I can help signpost them to the help they need. Furthermore, I want to give veterans the opportunity to learn a new skill and find work placements, including those who may be in custody or under a rehabilitation order.”
The Mental Health Foundation (MHA) has published help and advice on how to cope with loneliness and improve mental health.
There are things we can all do to cope and help prevent some of the negative feelings and problems that can occur. The MHA coping strategies, which you might find useful, can be found here.