Roger Swannell

Tag: mentalhealth

Mental health awareness week: coping with stress at work

Does telling people to take time out of their day to play board games really help their mental health? Does having less time to spend doing the same amount of work make someone more stressed? Would helping people deal with being stressed be more helpful than distracting from it? Could a few simple workshop-type activities start to give people the skills for dealing with stress?

I have a few ideas about things that can help our mental wellbeing and cope with stress.

Getting perspective

Sometimes, when we’re really focused on something we can lose a sense of perspective about how important the things that are making us stressed really are.

Write down what the most important thing in your life is. It might be your family or loved ones, or achieving something meaningful to you, but whatever it is let’s give this most important thing a score of 100. Then, list the things that are causing you stress and give them a score between 0 and 100 to describe how important they are to you, not to anyone else, or to your job, but to you. Hopefully, when you add up all those scores they won’t even come close to the most important thing in your life.

Comparing the things that are causing you stress to the most important thing in your life can hopefully put those things into perspective.

Sharing achievements

If we spend our time thinking about all the things we haven’t done, how long our to do list is, and how those deadlines are looming, it’s easy to lose sight of the things we have achieved.

Share with someone (you have to say it out loud) some of the things you have achieved this week. Let them ask you questions about it if they want, but the important part is for you to recognise that you are getting things done and achieving things, even if you still have lots of other things to do.

Recognising and sharing achievements can help us feel good about ourselves as we have to admit that we have have made progress towards our goals.

Be kind

When we’re stressed we can often be quite terse with people, especially if we feel like they aren’t recognising that we’re really busy.

For every person that you speak to that day, try to say something nice, compliment them on something they’ve achieved, thank them for something they’ve done.

Taking the time to actively say something nice to someone not only makes them feel better but makes you feel better about being a nicer person.


Just breathe.

Thinking about a Bucks Mind Guide Chatbot

Buckinghamshire Mind is a local mental health charity that supports people across Buckinghamshire. Last year they created the Bucks Mind Guide, a fantastic resource with helpful links to all kinds of services that can support people with mental health problems.

Bucks Mind Guide Website

So, in my bid to make a chatbot for everything, I started thinking about how I could take the masses of information in the guide and convert it into a conversational experience and build a chatbot. My first thought was that because there was so many options for users to ask about and the bot to provide answers for, it couldn’t use button like most of my other bots and would need to recognise keywords and respond accordingly. I considered using Dialogflow (I used used it a while ago when it was API.AI) to handle picking up the keywords, and may still do so later, but to keep it simple I started with using Labels to pick up the keyword entered by the user and jump to the section of the flow that could provide an answer related to that keyword.

Bucks Mind Guide Chatbot

Now, I just need to add to the number of keywords the bot can respond to, and make the messages more friendly.

Are you crazy busy? 

Why do we use words associated with mental illness to describe how busy we are?

“It’s been a crazy day”, “His calendar is bonkers”, “I’m insanely busy next week”.

Is it because on some level we all recognise that being too busy leads to stress and poor mental health?

How many people will get help from the extra £1bn for Mental Services?

The main story in the news today is the extra £1bn a year that the NHS is to receive for Mental Health services by 2020.


A quick look at the numbers:

  • UK Population: 64,100,000
  • 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health issues: 16,025,000
  • A quarter of those receive treatment from the NHS: 4,006,250
  • The NHS spends £92bn a year on Mental Health.
  • That’s a spend £22,964,118 per person.
  • An additional £1bn spent will mean an additional 43,546 more people receive treatment (at the same spend per person).
  • That’s a total of 4,049,796 people receiving treatment each year.
  • And a total of 11,975,204 not receiving treatment each year.


This raises a few questions for me:

  • Is almost £23 million pounds per person per year the right amount to be spending on treatment? Is it really cost effective?
  • What about the almost twelve million people still not receiving an treatment?
  • If spending £92bn enables the NHS to treat 6.25% of the population, and the additional £1bn takes that up to 6.32%, then treating the entire 25% of the population that are affected by mental health issues would cost a total of £368bn a year.  Is £1bn really enough?


Bucks Recovery College


Went to a consultation on the new Buckinghamshire Recovery College which is in development and will provide a new approach to mental health and wellbeing.

Copyright © 2019 Roger Swannell

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