It’s World Mental Health Day, an annual day to highlight the importance of looking after your mental wellbeing that is recognised by the World Health Organisation.
To recognise the day, the Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed a minister for suicide prevention. Jackie Doyle-Price will add this to her role as Health Minister to help tackle the stigma surrounding suicide.
Here at MS-UK, we have been told that when it comes to living with multiple sclerosis (MS) the mind is often overlooked. That’s why this time last year we launched MS-UK Counselling, a confidential telephone counselling service for people with a diagnosis of MS.
I wanted to let you know a bit more about it, as it is World Mental Health Day. The only service of its kind, MS-UK Counselling is focused on helping people with MS explore the emotional impact of living with this condition.
It is very common for people to struggle with coming to terms with a diagnosis or dealing with the uncertainty of how their condition may progress. For some, MS-specific counselling is crucial in supporting them to come to terms with their condition, understand their feelings and live positively with MS.
So if you are thinking about your mental health today with all the media attention on World Mental Health Day, do visit our web page to find out more about MS-UK Counselling. Our team of counsellors are here to help and support you,
Head of Services
Today marks the end of Volunteers' Week 2018, and what a week it has been!
To celebrate the week we created a series of short films starring some of our fantastic supporters, like Emma...
You can watch all of the films today on our YouTube channel.
If you have been inspired by Volunteers' Week, do explore our current opportunities to get involved...whether you prefer being behind the scenes or up front cheering at a national event, we have something for you!
World MS Day proved to be a day to remember, with the grand unveiling of our New Pathways video and our special social media Q&A. We also got the chance to speak to a few of the MS community to find out how complementary therapies and research has had an impact on their lives.
I have officially had MS for 8 years, but I experienced symptoms 8 years before that.
Just over 3 years ago, I responded to a request for people to get involved with a new group in our village. The request was put in by a professional aromatherapist who volunteered at Cancer Care. She believed that all people with any chronic condition needed support and access to therapies. She also felt that it was important that therapies should be available locally because there was a lack of facilities in the village.
To cut a long story short, 3 years on I am secretary and 'meeter and greeter' for a growing group that has become really important to those who attend. People drop in for coffee and a chat, and to support each other - there’s no need to put on a brave face! In the group there are professional therapists offering therapies such as reiki, reflexology, Indian head massage and shoulder and back massage - all available for a donation if people wish or can afford to give. There is also trained counsellor available for when life is difficult and a listening therapy is needed. The counsellor is also trained in mindfulness and has run courses. I have attended one myself and found them very helpful.
I can certainly vouch for the benefit of these therapies for me - especially Indian head massage and reiki! I’m not alone - there are others with MS who agree. A friend of mine who was recently bereaved attended a meeting with me and her verdict was "a group like this should be available everywhere!"
Volunteering at the group, as well as benefitting from the therapies, makes the name of the group - Best Life - very apt! It certainly makes it possible for me to live the best life possible with MS.
World MS Day is one of our favourite dates in calendar. It's a time when people around the globe - whether they're doctors, MS nurses, students, or those living with MS - can come together and talk about multiple sclerosis (MS).
For 2018, under the banner #BringingUsCloser, the World MS Day campaign on 30 May is putting MS research underneath the spotlight.
Here's what we'll be doing on the run up to and on the day so you can get involved in the action...
For one day only, Sarah-Jane, the editor of our New Pathways magazine, will be taking over Twitter for a very special Q and A! If you have any burning questions you need to get off your chest - whether it's about recent medical developments in the world of MS, MS studies or research, or complementary therapies - then join us on Twitter on 30 May and make sure to tag us @MSUK6.
Gather around the (digital) campfire! We want to hear stories of your experiences with complementary therapies and MS research. Has cannabis helped ease your symptoms? Do you follow a diet that you'd love to recommend? Perhaps you were involved in a research trial and want to share what you've learned with the world? Let us know! Email Callum with your tales and we'll feature you in our special World MS Day blog!
We've planned a series of special blogs to coincide with World MS Day 2018! Throughout the week and on the day itself, we'll be posting about the latest developments in MS research and showing you how to get involved. Keep your eyes peeled on the MS-UK blog pages so you don't miss out!
Armed with a camera and supported by a rising actress/willing member of the MS-UK team, we've channeled our inner Spielberg to create a one-off World MS Day video! Production is currently under tight-wraps (so no spoilers) but we can't wait to show you the finished product!
On 30 May, under the banner #BringingUsCloser, the global World MS Day campaign is putting multiple sclerosis (MS) research underneath the spotlight. The aim is to unite those involved in research - whether it be scientists or doctors, students or volunteers - and get them talking.
Throughout the month we'll be celebrating by talking about complementary therapies, and what better way to get to the heart of the subject than to speak to those who've sampled these therapies first hand? Whether you've experienced a positive change due to APS therapy or you have a story to share about using mindfulness to manage MS, we want to hear from you!
For one day only, our very own Sarah-Jane will be taking a break from editing our New Pathways magazine to take over our social media. If you have any questions about complementary therapies, MS research, or even the magazine itself, then make sure to put a note in your diary.
MS Awareness Week 2018 is drawing to a close – thank you so much for all your support!
Over the past few days our supporters have been making their voices heard and spreading the word of our newest national service, MS-UK Counselling.
We at MS-UK would like to thank everyone who championed our message that it’s ‘good to talk’ by sharing our posts on Facebook and Twitter, reading our blog, and opening up about life with multiple sclerosis (MS).
With your help, counsellors like Jonathan hope to be able to reach out to as many people across the UK affected by MS.
We at MS-UK are inclined to agree. This year, inspired by the recent launch of our MS-UK Counselling service and MS Awareness Week 2018, we're praising the power of talk. We believe that the simple act of opening up to someone who'll listen can have a hugely beneficial impact on a person's wellbeing and quality of life.
We sat down with MS-UK counsellor Jonathan who told us what he finds most rewarding about being able to lend an ear to those in the MS community.
We at MS-UK believe that giving people the opportunity to open up and talk about life with MS is just as valuable as any physical support. The simple act of listening to people’s worries and concerns – no matter how big or small they might believe them to be – can have a hugely positive impact on both mental wellbeing and quality of life.
Since launching the pilot of our counselling service in October 2017, our counsellors have reached out to over 150 people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS). But our aim is to lend an ear to even more. Over this week the vital work of the counselling team will be taking centre stage. We want to raise awareness of the service for those who need it in the MS community across the UK, discuss the many benefits of counselling, and help smash the stigma that may still surround mental health.
And you can get involved too! We’ve put together a list of five different ways you can make your voice heard during MS Awareness Week and help us spread the word of MS-UK...
1. Engage with MS-UK on social media
2. Share your own counselling experiences
There’s no shame in seeking out counselling services – 1 in 4 adults in the UK are affected by mental health issues after all – but some people are still afraid to talk. Share your own counselling stories with us using the hashtag #MSAwarenessWeek and you might inspire someone else to do the same.
3. Share info about MS-UK Counselling with your MS nurse
Does your MS nurse know about the MS-UK Counselling service? Why not talk to them and see if it’s something they might consider referring to in the future. You can also request some MS-UK Counselling leaflets by emailing our team at email@example.com
4. Have a chat over a cup of tea
There’s nothing better than a bit of banter over a cup of tea and Victoria sponge! Why not celebrate MS Awareness Week by getting together with friends and talking about multiple sclerosis? After all, it’s good to talk!
5. Download our MS Awareness Week resources
You can show your support for MS Awareness Week and jazz up your Facebook and Twitter profiles at the same time by downloading our MS Awareness Week resources! Check out our blog and follow the instructions to get your hands on a brand new banner.
This time next week MS-UK will be celebrating MS Awareness Week, and you can join us!
This year we are spreading the word about our newest national service, MS-UK Counselling. I would love you to get involved by downloading our Twitter and Facebook graphics...by adding them to your profiles you will be helping us reach even more people affected by multiple sclerosis who may benefit from counselling.
Right click on these images and select 'Save image as...' to download them to your computer:
Thank you for your help!
As part of Carers Week Mark gives his account of caring for his wife, Portia with multiple sclerosis...
Portia and I met at university, where we were studying architecture and landscape architecture. We were married in 1998 – around the same time Portia was diagnosed with MS.
You can’t anticipate what a progressive condition such as MS will be like. It’s different for everyone. We have had long periods of managing fairly well – including having our three children who are now aged 15, 12 and 10 years old.
There have also been periods of relapse. Day to day you don’t really notice the changes, but you look back over the years and can see how the condition has developed. 2014 was a particularly bad year, Portia spent a lot of time in hospital and we had the shock of finding out she had also developed epilepsy. It was a steep learning curve.
I’m an architect, and while my workplace has been very good at supporting me there have been difficult, uncertain times – especially when I’ve had to have unplanned time off while Portia has been in hospital. You know you’re not the first person to go through this, but it can feel that way.
Last year I set up a Carers’ Network at work which now has 150 members – including people who are caring now or have in the past, as well as people preparing for what could happen in the future. The best thing has been the opportunity to share our experiences and pool our knowledge. There’s always someone you can ask ‘How did you find this?’, ‘What can I do in this situation?’.
Portia and I are a great team, and we’ve always found a way round any challenge we’ve been faced with. Portia loves learning and is currently part way through an Open University course in Psychology and is training as an Art Therapist. MS may make the practicalities more difficult, but it doesn’t stop you living your life.
Celebrate Carers Week
This week is Carers Week. The annual awareness campaign celebrates and recognise the vital contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million unpaid carers. The aim is to build carer friendly communities, places where carers are supported to look after their loved ones well, while being recognised as individuals with needs of their own.
Carers Week is a time of intensive local activity with thousands of events planned for carers across the UK. If you’re looking after someone, make sure you find out about the help and support available at www.carersuk.org.
For more information on providing care and getting the right support, read our 2-page feature in issue 103 of New Pathways magazine.