Far be it from me –

Guest Post by Lynn C Tolson – On Growing Up Catholic

On Growing Up Catholic

Adapted from Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor’s Story © by Lynn C. Tolson
Like many Americans of Italian descent, my family was of the Roman Catholic religion. My grandmother had statues of saints on her dresser, and a picture of the Pope over her bed. My mother prayed with me, on our knees, before bed: If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Our family activities were based on the religious calendar.
In parochial school, Mass was mandatory on Holy Days of Obligation. Each class marched single file to the church; nuns in habits led children in plaid uniforms. I learned words such as hypocrite and contradict and excommunication, and the language of the Catholic congregation: catechism, confession, contrition, communion, confirmation, and the rituals of the Catholic church: The stations of the Cross, the Cross on the Rosary, and the Sign of the Cross: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. That included all the important people, but what category did little girls fall into? There seemed to be no place for me, so whenever I was in church, I never felt right or good. I always felt guilty, because, I’d been taught, we were born with Original Sin.
Confession was a real dilemma. What sins could an eight-year-old commit? Often I did not sin at all, but since Confession was mandatory, I invented sins, such as fibbing. To perform the rites of a good Catholic, I lied to the priest about how I had fibbed to my mother. How could premeditated lies be righteous?
When I could decide for myself, I realized that a religious rituals were not for me. Some people feel stifled by institutions and some use church just to gain status. Religion may be a source of strength to others. The principles of religion, such as The Golden Rule or The Ten Commandments, serve to instill love. What if traditional religion had no significance to me? Would I live without love?
I learned that there is a difference between religion and spirituality. The main premise of spirituality is the belief in a Higher Power. With spirituality, humans attain an awareness that acknowledges the soul because we are intrinsically spiritual beings in human form. I once thought the soul hovered above or around the body, but not quite in it. Then, I learned that the body is a vessel for the soul to inhabit. The soul is the essence of love as it manifests in the world.
God’s love (your personal vision) is alive and present in your soul. Our spiritual connection is our unity with God, and the love of God in the universe. Every soul finds redemption as a child in God’s family because love is perfect and pure within all of us.
Spirituality took on a new meaning, not as a means to get to Heaven, but as a way to get through each day on earth. It was a relief to learn that I’m not a heretic without hope of redemption. The love of God is not reserved for special people who perform certain acts. Love is not a matter of deserving. No list of accomplishments is needed to earn love. There is a purpose to life, which is as simple as experiencing love and extending that love to others.

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Do check out and download the FREE E books available from Chipmunkapublishing, the mental health  publisher.    Go to http://www.chipmunkapublishing.co.uk and click on Specials


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Guest Post by Edward Davie, NSUN – Government is not delivering on mental health

Government is not delivering on mental health

The government’s mental health strategy set out five key issues affecting mental health, but current policy across departments is failing to address them.

depressed male

The government has outlined five key issues affecting mental health but has failed to protect them from cuts. Photograph: Matty/Alamy

A year ago the government’s mental health strategy, No Health Without Mental Health, was published, with the aim of ensuring all departments and agencies worked together to reduce the annual £105bn cost to the UK of psychological ill health.

When the National Mental Health Development Unit was scrapped the month after the strategy was published, that work was given to mental health charities including Mind, Rethink and the NSUN network for mental health.

As part of attempting to design a practical implementation plan for the strategy, NSUN has assessed what progress has been made so far on delivering No Health Without Mental Health’s objectives across government.

The strategy clearly identifies five main predeterminants of mental health that must be improved in order to deliver the practical objectives of the strategy: employment, housing, education, community cohesion and physical health. An assessment of the state of each of these factors reveals that ministers appear to be wrecking their own strategy.

Unemployment is now at an 18-year high and forecast to rise further while the latest Department for Work and Pensions’ impact assessment on their own benefit changes found that 310,000 people are at risk of losing their homes. Investment in social housing has halved with less than 500 new social homes built last year.

Ofsted has recently been instructed to drop ‘wellbeing’ from the school inspection regime with schools minister Nick Gibb describing emotional and social education as “ghastly” and “peripheral”, leading to entire school counseling and health programs being scrapped. Likewise schools are no longer required to encourage ‘community cohesion’, another prerequisite for good mental health according to the strategy.

On physical health, the first action Andrew Lansley took on taking office was to scrap the traffic light food labeling scheme and attack Jamie Oliver’s attempts to improve nutrition in schools. Public health bodies are united in rejecting the government’s ‘responsibility agenda‘ involving McDonalds, Tesco, Pepsi and the Portman Group of brewers and distillers in ministerial food and drink policy commissions.

An email from health minister Earl Howe, recently published by the Guardian, revealed that he had asked the advice of tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris on how to resist imposing plain packets for cigarettes, despite the fact that people with mental health conditions smoke 40% of the tobacco in the UK.

The strategy also calls for new local public health bodies to prioritise mental health but the first and largest, the London Health Improvement Board chaired by mayor Boris Johnson, has instead opted to concentrate on childhood obesity and problem drinking.

While the DH would argue that it has invested £18m in continuing the anti-mental health stigma time to change campaign and sought to increase access to psychological therapies, these measures pale into insignificance in the wider context of worsening health and wider services.

If we in the third sector are to have a hope of delivering a practical implementation plan for No Health Without Mental Health then we need a genuine cross-government commitment to its aims particularly from the Department for Education, the DWP and the new public health bodies, to promote good mental health in schools, create good quality homes and jobs and clamp down on junk food, alcohol and cigarettes.

Edward Davie is communications and engagement office for the NSUN network for mental health

This article orginally appeared on the Guardian Public Leaders Network .

NSUN is always looking for new members – it’s free and confidential to join and in return for emailing your name, address, email and phone number to info@nsun.org.uk  you get a weekly ebulletin, regular members’ magazine and invites to conferences, training and events.

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Far be it from me -

Judith has very kindly asked me to write a guest post for her blog about the use of survey and marketing research and how it can help improve healthcare.
Firstly as an act of full disclosure I should say I am a market researcher who works in healthcare research. So yes I do have an interest in persuading people to work with us to co-create better healthcare options.
Over the last few years people like you have had a greater say in the kinds of medical treatment you or the people you love receive. The types of treatment options have increased especially with the growth of non-prescription medication and alternative medicine. Equally, many patients and their caregivers are far better informed than they once were about their conditions.
This is one of the reasons that the government, pharmaceutical companies and physicians are more aware that they need to improve how…

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Guest Post by Mike Skinner – Abuse, Trauma, Music and Mental Health

Hi Folks,

Greetings to all and a very special Thank You!!! to Judith for asking me to do some “guest- blogging”…both honored and quite excited to be doing this.

FYI….I am a musician and an advocate in the areas of trauma, abuse and mental health concerns. There is a lot more to this, but I want to be brief and let you spend some time visiting some of the websites I will be sharing – these can then give you a lot more information and resources to help you understand better some of the many things I do in trying to share Hope, Healing & Help for the above mentioned heath concerns.

Please do visit the Surviving Spirit website – http://www.survivingspirit.com – to learn how we use the Creative Arts, Education & Advocacy to help those impacted by trauma, abuse and mental health concerns. We have a really nice website that has a lot of great resources and we also send out a monthly newsletter that you can sign up for from the website itself – the newsletter also shares a lot of helpful information that is inspirational and motivational. [& Judith can vouch for this!!!]

And please do visit my own website to hear some music, read some articles and so much more – http://www.mskinnermusic.com – by visiting these websites you will have a better understanding as to why I do what I do in trying to help others – I have also been greatly affected by trauma, abuse and mental health concerns and try each day to help be a part of change for the better. You can also see and hear me performing live via this link – http://www.youtube.com/mcstrain – “Brush Away Your Tears” is a song I wrote for those who have been hurt as children.

Well….next week I’m off to Florida to perform, speak & present at the Alternatives Conference [“the oldest national mental health conference organized by and for mental health consumers/survivors”], upon my return I will share some insight and news of what happened there. This year’s theme is, “Coming Home: Creating Our Own Communities of Wellness and Recovery.”  – http://www.alternatives2011.org/

Till then, take care, Mike Skinner

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Guest Post by Neiley68 – Autism – Hidden but Always There

Guest Post by Neiley68 – Autism – Hidden but Always There.

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Surviving Spirit


Here are links to The Surviving Spirit










There are several objectives we hope to address

and achieve through The Surviving Spirit:


To promote Hope, Healing and Help for those

impacted by trauma, abuse or mental health

concerns through the use of the creative arts,

a speakers’ bureau, newsletter, website,brochure,

 retail gallery, coffeehouse,media center and more.


Please note that we refer to trauma, abuse and

 mental health concerns throughout our website,

 literature & events, etc. These three major health 

problems cover a wide variety of issues and we want

 to reach out to those who have known that pain

and suffering.


We want to extend our invite to their loved ones,

friends,co-workers and to the greater public  to help create 

awareness on how those health issues affect all of us.


To help promote, market and sell the creative works of those affected

by trauma, abuse and mental health concerns at fair market prices.

It is hard enough to make a living as a professional artist, musician,

author, etc, but when someone has to deal with the above mentioned

health issues, that creates even more problems to contend with in

trying to pursue your muse.


By offering workshops, events and mentoring, we hope to help 

creative individuals learn the necessary business skills that are 

needed for promoting their creative works. For those professionals

already in the marketplace, we want to be able to help you reach

a larger audience.


To offer healing arts workshops, training, classes and events that

teach creative crafts and skills to others just for the joy and the fun of

learning something new. This will encompass music, art, writing,

poetry, crafts, yoga, reiki and so much more.



Studies show that one in four females will be sexually assaulted 

before the age of eighteen and for males it is one in six; though

many think that number may be higher, but most males will not 

report or talk about their abuse.


Studies also show that one in five people have dealt with a mental

health concern… yet two thirds of them will not seek treatment or

help due to the stigma and discrimination

associated with mental illness, trauma and abuse.


The Surviving Spirit wants to help be a part of the change in

eliminating the fears, myths, and false beliefs that surround trauma,

abuse, & mental health concerns.



 The media will always cover the story of someone labeled mentally

ill who commits a violent crime and yet they only represent a tiny

percentage of the population, unfortunately they receive the most



The Surviving Spirit will show the other side of that equation with

stories of hope, courage and perseverance from the gifted and

talented people we work with, who by their example break down

those old fears, false beliefs and myths that surround mental illness.


Trauma & Abuse comes in many forms — military veterans grapple

with this, victims of crime, those who have struggled with a life-

threatening illness or injury such as cancer, diabetes, brain injury,

car accident, physical impairment and so much more are just a

partial listing of serious health concerns that people struggle with. 

And yet, they show by their example, Hope, Healing, & Help.



 The Surviving Spirit wants to display and share their stories, music,

art, crafts and more that shows their great courage and



Further information that outlines our purpose, goals and mission

can be found throughout our website and literature in more detail by

visiting the rest of the website.








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Don’t Mind Me by Judith Haire

Don’t Mind Me by Judith Haire is the story of my dysfunctional childhood and teenage depression, my abusive first marriage and experience of rape and domestic violence, my terrifying descent into psychosis, my experience of electro convulsive therapy (ECT) and my recovery. I wrote this book to help others as well as myself

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The Life of Ryan"

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