Look after your mental health in the festive season

“The festive season and New Year are one of the most wonderful but also the most stressful times of the year,” says Neville de Silva, Practice Teacher in Mental Health Nursing at London South Bank University (LSBU) in Havering, and Senior Mental Health Practitioner at North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT).

“It’s not surprising that people can feel under pressure or depressed when you take into consideration the financial implications, and the stress of long journeys and big family events.”

Neville is not only an LSBU teacher, but also a graduate - he achieved his diploma in Mental Health Nursing at LSBU in 2001, and later he completed his MSc in Mental Health Nursing for Older People. He then took a postgraduate certificate in Practice Education (PGCE) at LSBU and registered as teacher.

He hopes that he can inspire other potential Mental Health nurses into the career. Neville says: “There’s a great need for Mental Health Nursing services, and it’s a very interesting and rewarding career.

“Since I studied at LSBU in Havering I’ve been helping people in the local community through my roles at NELFT. I enjoy every element of my work, but it’s rewarding to see my service users making progress and feeling happy because of this. A high percentage of NELFT’s Mental Health nurses are LSBU graduates and I am very proud to be part of this.

“There’s only going to be an increased need for Mental Health Nursing with an aging population and social deprivation, so I hope I can inspire other people into this worthwhile profession.”

Neville has five top tips to make sure you look after your mental health and that of your family and friends this festive season and into 2012:

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1. Look after your body - keep warm, eat, drink and sleep well.

2. You don’t have to feel lonely, even if you’re not going to be with family or friends, as there are many voluntary organisations which run events and activities during the festive season. Find out more from local organisations such as the Salvation Army or your parish church.

3. If you feel you need help, then this is also close to hand. The Havering Home Treatment Team (NELFT) provides 24/7 mental health care. You will need to visit your GP to be referred to this service. If you feel you are having a mental health crisis, then you can contact NELFT Mental Health Direct, a 24-7 support line on 0844 600 1111.

4. Be sure not to miss any prescribed medication in the merriment, and be sure not to mix it up with alcohol.

5. Finally, the festive season comes just once a year, so try to enjoy this period to the best of your own ability.

Find out more about studying at London South Bank University: www.lsbu.ac.uk/hsc