Category Archives: Press Release
THE SELSEY ACADEMY FIRE – Moving forward.
The 21st August 2016 was a sad day for Selsey. The Selsey Academy fire will go down in the history of the town.
It will be remembered in a similar way to the tornado that ripped through roofs in January 1998. After the tornado the stoical folks of Selsey pulled together. Yesterday, some 18 years later, the ‘Selsey Spirit’ rose again. Social media helped mobilise the ‘troops’ who organised themselves efficiently to supply food and drink to the firefighters. The smoke has cleared. The reality has begun to bite. Selsey has lost a focal point of the community.
Similar to Bereavement
The feelings that arise are similar to those of bereavement. Nobody has died yet a sense of loss hangs in the air.
There is initial shock. Statements are heard like ‘This can’t be true’, (Denial). Quite quickly awareness widens to acknowledgement. The Academy was destroyed by fire. It will leave a gap in the community. As the reality sets in, some people will express anger. Already and without concrete evidence there have been claims that the fire must have been started by an arson attack. When people feel helpless, the blame game is played. To play the blame game a ‘scapegoat’ is needed. You will hear questions like – Were the firefighters quick enough? and Were there sprinklers fitted in the building?
Each of these comments are normal when individuals feel powerless. The objective of the blame game is to feel less powerless. Try not to buy into it. It divides us and delays the process of moving forward. After this comes a sense of sadness for what was lost. Finally, acceptance will be reached and we will be able to move forward as a community.
The town is going through a process of disbelief, anger, blaming and sadness. All of this is normal and takes time until we reach acceptance
Possible effects on pupils
For students the process is more difficult. They need to adapt to the loss of their school. There is likely to be a period of anxiety about the future and about where they will go to school. They will also worry about their friendships.
Parents may notice a quietness in their children or an increase in teenage moodiness. They need time to adjust. This is big news to them. Their cognitive systems need time to process this knowledge. Children who have experienced a change in family situation in the last 12 months may feel the uncertainty more. Take time to listen to your child’s concerns and respond with the actual knowledge you have.
At present the precise arrangements for the children’s schooling is not clear, it can’t be as yet. It’s crucial that the children are supported at this time.
Parents can help by reassuring their child that clear plans are being made for their education. It may take a while to fine tune the details but what is certain is that a practical solution is being developed.
It is an unpleasant situation but if handled sensitively, your child will have developed important coping strategies and an ability to manage unexpected change. This lesson will be as important as any formal teaching of emotional intelligence.
Witten by Christine Tizzard Psychology
Mindfulness and its role in reducing inflammation in auto immune disease.
A recent research study carried out at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found a link between the practice of mindfulness and reduced inflammation in auto immune disease.
Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sarcoidosis and asthma all feature increased inflammation causing pain and distress. In some cases disease activity results in disability, organ malfunction and a marked deterioration in quality of life.
At an intuitive level people who practice mindfulness report that it reduces their stress and pain levels.
Less stress in the system is believed to result in a decrease in the production of the stress hormone, Cortisol. Less Cortisol production, it seems may contribute to reduced inflammation. Less inflammation in chronic disease is very welcome news.
As an example, perhaps you have noticed that after a few days on vacation your pain level seems lower. You may have also recognised that soon after you return home you start to feel worse again. It is well known that pain and anxiety levels seem to increase during stressful periods.
The practice of mindfulness can help you accomplish what is important and necessary to you without increasing your stress levels. Living fully in the present moment has a positive effect on general wellbeing.
Increasingly, it is also believed that meditation has a positive effect on disease activity. This is particularly so when mindfulness is combined with a diet rich in antioxidants and appropriate exercise is taken. It is crucial to state that before starting an exercise routine you must seek medical advice. More research is needed to fully understand the positive effects of mindfulness on inflammation
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), originally designed for patients with chronic pain, consists of continuously focusing attention on the breath, bodily sensations and mental content while seated, walking or practicing yoga.
Sheehan Brooke Psychology is undertaking a research pilot study which will attempt to investigate the effects of Mindfulness on wellbeing in patients having a diagnosis of auto immune disease.
To achieve their objective the organisation is running the 8 week MBCT/MBSR programme specifically for people who have a diagnosis of auto immune illness. It will commence at the beginning of March 2014.
The only requirement is that participants agree to have their inflammatory markers tested by their GP. This involves a simple blood test at the beginning of the study and again six months later. Full information is available from Sheehan Brooke Psychology.
The MBSR programme will take place at the Sheehan Brooke Clinic Nr Chichester, West Sussex. The eight week programme is completely free to participants who agree to take part in the pilot study.
Sheehan Brooke also welcome enquiries from chartered psychologists having a research background and training in mindfulness who are interested in conducting the research in other locations in the UK and US
If you are interested in learning the practice of mindfulness and have been diagnosed with an auto immune illness please do get in touch.
The research study will be led by consultant chartered psychologist Chrissie Tizzard.
Chrissie is also chartered scientist who has undergone training in mindfulness and has completed a research doctorate using quantative and qualitative methods at Roehampton University.
Sheehan Brooke provide a range of Mindfulness courses and longer retreats in the UK and Cyprus.
Sheehan Brooke Psychology 9, The Courtyard, Trident Business Park, Selsey, Chichester, West Sussex PO20 9TY. Telephone 01243 775055
Teachers who practice Mindfulness are better able to reduce their personal stress levels and susceptibility to burnout.
This is the finding of new research undertaken by Lisa Flook, an Assistant Scientist at the Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds (CIMH) at University of Wisconsin.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It happens when an individual feels overwhelmed and unable to meet the constant demands on them. While similar to, it is different from compassion fatigue and vicarious traumatisation.
Burnout reduces an individual’s productivity and saps their energy, leaving them feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical and resentful. Eventually, individuals experiencing burn out may feel like they have nothing more to give.
Most of us have days when we feel stressed overloaded, or unappreciated, when this becomes a pattern, we become candidates for burnout. This has serious consequences on both professional and personal functioning.
Objective of Study
The purpose of the CIMH study designed by Flook who has advanced degrees in education and psychology was to help teachers manage escalating levels of stress. The demands of the curriculum coupled with the behaviour of a small percentage of pupils are a known recipe for feeling overwhelmed.
It is well known that burnout causes many problems including extended sick leave.
The practice of Mindfulness arises from centuries old meditative traditions that are now being taught in a secular way.
An increasing number of studies are emerging that focus on empirical research which is open to rigorous scientific scrutiny.
Mindfulness is a technique that when learnt can heighten an individual’s core sense of awareness. This includes an awareness of self; a noticing of external stimuli and body sensations. Importantly the practice develops an ability to register stressors but not respond to them.
Practiced well, Mindfulness produces a sense of calm and wellbeing. Let’s be clear, it does not remove the stressors per se, rather being able to practice Mindfulness effectively, changes reactions to stress. Used effectively, it can be a powerful tool to reduce burnout in teachers.
The cohort of teachers who took part in the study learned specific strategies for both preventing and dealing with stressors in the classroom. They learnt techniques such as ‘dropping in,’ a term to describe the process of bringing attention to the sensations of breath and other physical sensations, thoughts and emotions for short periods. They reported a significant stress reduction.
Mindfulness and stress reduction
Research is drawing clear links between Mindfulness and cortisol reduction. Cortisol is a stress hormone. It is an integral part of the fight or flight response. When we are stressed or scared cortisol production is ramped up. Excessive cortisol is known to increase inflammation in the body that over a period of time can contribute to physical health problems.
A previous study carried out in 2013 and published in the Journal of Health Psychology found an association between increased Mindfulness practice and decreased cortisol production.
The level of the hormone present in the saliva of participants was measured before and after taking part in a Mindfulness retreat.
Tonya Jacobs a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California said in a statement that ‘A direct relationship between resting cortisol and the scores obtained on any Mindfulness scale was identified’.
Bringing Mindfulness to Teachers
Teaching Mindfulness to teachers is an exciting new project that offers potential gains, in particular, retaining talented teachers in education. A large amount of interest has been expressed by teachers who have already observed how Mindfulness has helped their pupils. Now they are beginning to understand the wider application of Mindfulness in education.
Running Mindfulness training for teachers is a specially tailored programme based on the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Programme.
For further information on Mindfulness techniques for teachers, please contact Sheehan Brooke Psychology 01243 775055. The organisation provide a range of Mindfulness workshops at their s rural offices near Chichester West Sussex and at venues throughout UK and Southern Ireland
Further reading: Mindfulness for Teachers: A Pilot Study to Assess Effects on Stress, Burnout and teaching Efficacy (Pages 183-185) , published in Journal of Mind, Brain and Education September 2013, Lisa Flook, Simon B. Goldberg, Laura Pinger, Katherine Bonus and Richard J Davidson
Is my child experiencing depression?
One of the questions that parents frequently ask is “Is my child depressed’? Children, just like their parents have ‘down’ days. It might be that they have had a hard day at school, fallen out with a best friend or are simply trying to adjust to a new situation. Parents often panic when their child appears low and often wonder if he or she is beginning to display symptoms of depression.
Younger children do not always present as being depressed. Often they internalise their distress and act it out in a behavioural or physical manner. It is often difficult for parents, carers and teachers to spot the signs of depression in a child.
Below are the most frequent symptoms seen in younger children.
Older children and adolescents are more likely to present in a similar way to adults.
1. Depressed children do not always look depressed
2. Sleep changes
3. Appetite changes
4. Irregularity of bowel habits
5. School problems
6. Prolonged negative reaction to crisis
7. Loss of interest in usual activities
8. Change of friends and social behaviour
9. Expressing helplessness
10. Physical symptoms
If your child is displaying these symptoms for longer than two weeks or if there is more than one symptom it is time to consult your GP or child psychologist. Sheehan Brooke Psychology hold a free parenting clinic each Monday where advice is readily available. 01243 775055.
ALLOWING YOUR CHILD TO BECOME OBESE IS A FORM OF ABUSE
Response from Leading Independent Family Psychologists
A news article in Isle of Man Today newspaper dated 20th August bore this stop in your tracks headline.
‘Allowing your child to become obese is a form of child abuse’.
The article proceeded to quote Chief Minister of the Isle of Man, Alan Bell as stating,
‘We need to wake up to the fact that this (obesity in children) is a very serious problem. Individuals must accept responsibility for safeguarding their own well-being’.
The article continued, ‘In the case of families it is the parents who should be held responsible for ensuring that their children eat properly and take enough exercise. Failure to do so could be described as a form of child neglect.
When you think that a parent caught slapping their child could be in court for child abuse. I don’t see why this should not equally be considered abusing their child’.
Strong words but is the rhetoric correct?
Clearly, if your child is overweight there are considerable risks to his or her health. Existing weighty research evidence concludes that there is no escaping this depressing fact. The truth is that eating the wrong food over time has a negative consequence on health.
These risks to health are relevant during childhood and continue to be pertinent as the child develops into adulthood. Physical illness and indeed psychological dysfunction are more likely to come banging at your children’s door if they are obese.
That said the majority of parents from Dundee to Dungeness would be absolutely horrified to learn that which they feed their children may be signposting them to an earlier demise. They would also be shocked to learn that they may also be guilty of abuse.
Simplistic statements linking ‘obesity with abuse’ do not improve children’s diets, in fact they continue to increase the schism within an already divided society.
In reality, the problem is far more deep rooted and is entrenched with socio-economic and cultural influences.
Children become obese for a variety of reasons. In truth the deliberate and therefore abusive force feeding of the wrong food is very rare. Although it is infrequently seen in Munchausen syndrome.
Accessible public education is the key to improving the diets of our children coupled with reasonable priced healthy food.
It is of little surprise that the poorest in our community have the most nutrient dilute diet. Simply, junk food is relatively cheap, is usually available as pound stretching BOGOF deals and ultimately fills a hole in even the hungriest child’s ever rumbling stomach.
Of course parents who have limited resources will choose quantity over quality unless they are really clued up regarding the potential long term damage to their children that is caused by a poor diet.
Just yesterday in a Twitter post, a well-known supermarket chain launched a survey for Tweeters to take part in, ‘Tell us your favourite product’ and proceeded to give examples of pancakes and several other forms of nutritionally dilute food……
Could a survey not have been designed along the theme of ‘Tell us your favourite groovy fruit……and how do you eat it?
In these times of austerity, where many parents are genuinely challenged to make ends meet, there needs to be more visible, yet simultaneous low key promotion of healthier food. These health promoting basics need to be available and available at a cheaper price.
Linking obesity with the words ‘child abuse’ is extremely short-sighted and damaging. It insults the average parent and conversely dilutes the word from its everyday meaning, i.e., the horrendous cruelty that child protection professionals work with on a daily basis.
It does not elucidate the complex interplay that exists between food, culture, education and finance. It is also has the potential of increasing the stigmatisation of the less financially and educationally affluent.
Of course parents do have to take responsibility to provide healthy food for children but they must be helped to do this.
Unless, sustained ‘punchy’ public education delivered via slick advertising and access to cheaper healthy food is possible, then it is policy makers who may have to re consider where accountability for obesity truly resides.
Written by Chrissie Tizzard
Consultant Adult and Child Psychologist
Sheehan Brooke Psychology www.sheehanbrooke.org