Sunday, September 9, 2018

Let's talk about Mental Health - Part two.

I have facilitated many workshops, given lectures and had any number of public speaking engagements.  I’ve always delivered these on my own - Up until this week. On Thursday
I co-delivered a workshop for the first time. It was the first of my “Let’s Talk About Mental Health” workshops and my co presenter was an amazing young woman by the name of Ruth Fox. 

Ruth is a 19-year-old mental health advocate, footballer, author and public speaker. She is a rising star on Social Media (over 6,000 Twitter followers already) as well as appearing on traditional media including, Sky Sports, ITV, BBC and local radio. 
As those of you who follow my blog know, I am an inclusion coach with over twenty-five years’ experience working with hard to reach groups, including people experiencing mental health challenges. I ran a local authority program called “Invigorate” for nine years. This program utilised sports and physical activity to support mental health service users. So, I like to think that my experience in this field gives value to all my workshops. However, to have the inspiring story and life experience that Ruth brought added powerful context to the narrative and made for a wonderful first joint workshop. Having come through her own difficult experiences with depression, Ruth aspires to raise awareness of mental health across all sectors and particularly wants to focus on the Education system, the Mental Health system and raising awareness of mental health in sports coaches. 

So, she is an ideal partner to work with.
The combination of my experience
“working”  with the challenges and Ruth’s experience “living” with the challenges made for, I believe, a powerful workshop.  
We began the workshop by looking at how people view physical health compared to their attitudes towards mental health. Why do we take a person’s physical health for granted, yet talking about their mental health is a big taboo?
We covered many of the common and well-known mental health conditions and discussed the shocking statistics around the subject of mental health.
I person every 40 seconds in the world takes their own life.
800 million people face the challenges of depression worldwide.
84 men in the UK take their own life a week, that's 12 every day, 1 every 2 hours
Suicide is the biggest killer of men U50
1 person takes their own life every 90 mins in the UK.

We also spent a lot of the workshop discussing attitudes to mental health, particularly in the mainstream media.  It’s frightening that over a third of the public think people with a mental health problem are likely to be violent and headlines like these don’t help. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are more likely to be victims, rather than perpetrators, of violent crime.
An interesting part of the workshop was where we explored the use of language. We asked the question, Does the language we use influence our attitude towards people with mental health conditions? Can it lead to Stigma?
It’s so, so important to be having these discussions. Only by talking about mental health openly can we ever hope to end the Stigma. 
Ruth and I plan to deliver more of these workshops and dates, times and venues will be announced soon.  

In the meantime, feel free to contact me for information on the workshops and thank you for checking out this week’s blog post.
See you all again next week.
Stay safe.
Steve Morley
Inclusion Coach

Monday, August 27, 2018

Lets talk about Mental Health.

Over the next few months, myself and some great mental health advocates, will be delivering a series of Mental Health workshops.
These events will be evolving (I love getting feedback from an audience and amending the workshops accordingly), bespoke events exploring topics like Mental Health and young people, Mental Health in the workplace and Nurturing and building resilience.

We will be sharing personal stories and experiences and the workshops will also be examining techniques and strategies, like utilising sport and physical activity that may have a positive impact of a person’s mental health.

Whenever I prepare for a new series of workshops, I devote a lot of time to research. I obviously want to ensure that the information contained in the workshop is accurate but I also want to include any new and updated
Lecture, theatre, talking, presentation
A number of my recent workshops have been dedicated to disability, so it was interesting to return to the area of mental health. However, I have been struck by the differences in terminology and perception between how we view disability and how we view mental health. 
We all have a view of what’s considered normal behaviour. We sometimes use the term eccentric to describe someone whose behaviour is slightly odd or pellicular. If this behaviour is non threatening, we might find the behaviour amusing or even endearing. We smile and dismiss the person as harmless, meaning that the person is not a danger to others or to themselves.
The term “Eccentric” is often seen as a polite, non-judgemental term rather than emotive negative words like “Crazy” or “Loony”
In the areas of physical and neurological disability, we talk about, the Medical Model versus the Social Model of Disability. We
speak about the use of appropriate language and are encouraged to avoid terms such as, “suffers from” or frames of reference that define the person by their disability. 
Lecture, theatre, talking, presentation
We appreciate that Language is important since it colours how we view the World.
Yet, it seems to me that where Mental Health is concerned, many of us are firmly rooted in the Medical Model view. 
I’m sure that people these days would feel that words like Lunatic are wholly inappropriate and yet we still
use phrases like “suffering from paranoid schizophrenia” or worse, referring to someone as a “schizophrenic” or a “Manic Depressive.” The fact that these are “normalised” medical descriptions does nothing to end the stigma attached to poor mental health. 
Perhaps we should even reflect on words that we take for granted like disorder and illness, used when referring to mental health conditions.
The following definition is from the website.
A mental disorder, also called a mental illness or psychiatric disorder, is a behavioural or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning.  Mental disorders are usually defined by a combination of how a person behaves, feels, perceives, or thinks.”

women, talking, listening
Ok, that’s fine, but here is my suggestion. Just off the top of my head. I’m sure that it could be improved but it does avoid those negative words. How about we focus on describing the person’s state of being. For example, how about.....
A person’s mental health refers to their behavioural or mental pattern. A person can experience periods of poor mental health sometimes due to certain recognised mental health conditions. These can cause significant distress or impairment of personal functioning. A persons Mental Health is usually defined by a combination of how a person behaves, feels, perceives, or thinks.”

One of the great pleasures of delivering workshops is the wonderful conversation that you can engage in with your audience. I certainly feel that I learn as much as I am able to teach. And only by engaging in the conversation about mental health can we begin to end the stigma.
So, Let’s talk about mental health.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Running with a Wounded Heart- Revised Edition (a sample)

A Little sample from my book, Running with a Wounded Heart - Revised edition 2018.

Well I finally did it. The long awaited updated version of my book, Running with a Wounded Heart is now "Live" on Amazon. I published the first edition in 2011, so sorry about the wait. Life rather got in the way. Anyway, for those who buy, I hope that you enjoy. Photo showing book cover of man running and book title.

For those of you who follow my Blogs, you will know that there are a few "Running" related posts. I get good feedback from those and so, this week, I've decided to feature a sample chapter from the book. The chapter I have selected is called, Coming back down to earth. It tells the story of the first "Serious" race that I competed in. 

Chapter 7. Coming back down to earth

The Sandringham race, I think, was around the September, October time and I immediately started searching for my next outing. At that time,
I had no idea where to look to find races and the next month’s copy of Runners World magazine didn’t have any races in my area. Looking back at local races held earlier in the year gave me a few names of local running clubs and I was able to go on to their websites and have a look at their race calendars. It was in this way that I found Wymondham AC, a running club about 20 miles from my home and proudly sent off my entry form for the Wymondham New Year’s Day 10k. Now you will get an idea of how badly I’d got the running bug if I was contemplating getting up early on New Year’s Day to run in a race. Encouraged by my Sandringham 10k race I duly presented myself at 9.00 sharp on a freezing New Year’s morning at the race HQ, ready to do battle.

Looking around at my fellow athletes I was struck by three things. The first thing I noticed was that there were not hundreds of runners. Unlike Sandringham which had several thousand runners, the Wymondham 10k probably had a couple of hundred. Secondly everyone looked pretty fit. 

Photo of runners dressed as fruit - fun runners
They all looked like they were serious runners. Thirdly, there were no runners dressed as Ducks, Penguins or Bananas. There were only well toned, lean men and women in full running kit sporting names on their running vests like, Stowmarket Striders, Gt.Yarmouth Runners, Cambridge & Coleridge Athletic Club and Felixstowe Flyers. It was at that point that the realization dawned on me, who else but serious runners would turn out on New Year’s Day to race.

Of course, by then it was too late to pull out. I went off too quickly which was a common fault of mine early on and puffed and wheezed my way around. The course was hilly, and parts were covered in snow. I had to walk up some of the hills, but I finished. I came home third from last in a time of 1 hour and twenty minutes. As sobering as the experience was I actually did enjoy it. Well I enjoyed it when it was over at least. It was fantastic to get my finishing medal at the end and it only served to fuel my enthusiasm to do more races. In fact, began to get obsessed with racing. Over the next couple of years I entered as many 10k races as I could find. Most I enjoyed some not so much. I got to discover what kind of courses I liked to run on. I discovered early on that I didn’t like hills very much. I still don’t. I am very wary of course descriptions that feature the word “undulating” In my experience this can mean anything from a few gentle inclines to a route akin to a walking holiday in the Alps.

I also got a bit smarter and started looking at the results from previous years when I was choosing a race. If my estimated finishing time was around the one-hour mark, I would look to see how many people finished in around that time or slower. If there were a lot of people slower than one hour I’d feel a lot better about entering. If, on the other hand, most of the field finished quicker than an hour then I’d know it was a higher calibre club race and probably not suitable for me at the time.
Photo of man running cross country

Having decided to enter a race I would make sure that I knew where I was going, and I’d prepare my journey in advance. I’d make a checklist and lay out all my running kit the night before the race. I really enjoyed this aspect of racing. I guess I really am a Reflective Pragmatist you see.

I hope that you enjoyed that short taster from my book. It is available now on Amazon. 

Well, they do say, that when you are on a roll, just roll with it.. No sooner is the revised edition of my book Running with a Wounded Heart "Live" on Amazon.
Than I am cracking on with my next book, "Too Old to Ultra" Sneak peek at cover here. Meanwhile enjoy #RWWH

Available to Pre-order from March 2019


Monday, June 18, 2018


I am privileged to be a Trustee with a wonderful charity called STEEL BONES. Our Charity supports people with Limb loss and particularly, the families of those who have experienced the trauma of amputation following accident or ill health.

Amputees, Group, Steel Bones
Just a few of the many STEEL BONES family and friends team.

I am not an amputee myself but through my work with STEEL BONES I have been fortunate to meet many people with missing limbs and am constantly impressed with their attitude and outlook on life.

People who know me well, know that I am a runner. I have been running for many years. 

So, I had this idea of running x3 Ultra Marathons.

Runner, runners, pack of runners, running race
A young Steve Morley on a rare occasion leading the pack

So, the name of this Challenge is: Steve's 3-Ultra Challenge. #Steve's3UltraChallenge

People who know me well, know that I am a runner. I have been running for many years. I run marathons and in recent years I have taken on the challenge of running Ultra Marathons.

So, over the coming months I will be taking on a 3 Ultra Challenge. I plan to run three Ultra Marathons over increasingly longer distances. 

My first Ultra Challenge would be the
Kings Forest Ultra which is 50k, approximately 31 miles. Ultra number two is the Peddars Way Ultra, from mid Suffolk to the North Norfolk coast, 74k or approximately 46 miles and the third and hardest Ultra is the Norfolk Coastal Ultra, 100k or 62 miles.

This challenge originally had a working title of "The Old Guy has finally lost it this time" Perhaps a bit of a mouthful. So I will just stick with the 3-Ultra Challenge

My challenge starts in October 2019 with Ultra Number 1. Ultra Number two is January 2020 and the final Ultra is June 2020. So the challenge will be spread over approx. 6 months with roughly the same amount of time for me to train and get into shape for the first Ultra in October..  

I will also be running a few traditional Marathons as part of my training, with the first being the  Mablethorpe Marathon on in early October as a little warm up for Kings Forest.

Each race will bring its own unique challenges. Peddars Way is run in January and is often run in blizzard conditions with several runners getting hyperthermia. Ultra number three takes place in June at the height of the summer. So, lovely warm weather for a stroll in the countryside but maybe not ideal conditions for a 100k race. The easiest, on paper, is Kings Forest since it's the shortest. However, it's through a forest and the terrain is undulating and can be difficult. 

So, wish me luck,

Ideally, I would like to raise some money for our Charity, STEEL BONES which is dedicated to supporting amputees and their families. Any money raised will be spent promoting our work in schools and in the community.

I will shortly be setting up a “Just Giving” page. So, watch this space and Please make a small donation if you can.  

Catch you next time.