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Mental Health Awareness Week: Review

Between 8th and 12 May, Psicon ran a series of public talks as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.


The first talk, by Dr Chrissie Loft, Clinical Psychologist, focussed on the role of clinical psychology in mental health. It introduced a range of therapeutic techniques, and discussed their application in treating various psychological problems. It also included an introductory mindfulness training session.


The second talk, by Dr Max Zöttl, Consultant Psychiatrist, discussed the prevalence and implications of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in adults. Reports indicate that fewer than one in five adults affected by ADHD get formally diagnosed, a discrepancy that can result not only in academic and occupational underachievement, when employers and educational institutions fail to make appropriate adjustments for people’s difficulties, but also in issues with social adjustment and attendant mental health problems. Dr Zöttl emphasised that diagnosing and treating underlying ADHD can help resolve many difficulties that affected people face in life.      


Dean Watkins and Amy Peach, High Intensity Cognitive-Behavioural Therapists, delivered the third talk of the week, on “Approaches to overcoming problems with low mood, procrastination, and self-doubt”. The talk emphasised the importance of engaging in more behaviours that lead towards desired outcomes (for instance doing well in college or being more sociable), while learning to identify and overcome negative thoughts that can impede productive activity (“I’m not good enough”; “What if people don’t like me?”).



The first of two talks given by LJ Conradie, Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist, was on the interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors in the genesis and management of stress. Mr Conradie introduced stress as the product of an imbalance between perceived demands and our perceived capacity to cope, and emphasised the importance of sleep, diet and exercise in the development of a balanced and less stressful lifestyle, in which we self-appraise realistically, feel empowered to say “No” to excessive demands, and allow ourselves time to engage in non-wanting, affiliative-focussed behaviour


Mr Conradie’s second talk focussed on brain injury and mental health, and particularly on the emotional implications of a forced or semi-enforced withdrawal from social, academic and occupational pursuits. He said that, following brain injury, people’s emotional difficulties often revolve around depression or grief for what they have lost, and fear or anxiety about how they will cope. Apart from emphasising the importance of prevention (appropriate headwear when cycling, for instance), Mr Conradie said that rehabilitation programmes should include family members to promote an understanding of realistic expectations post-injury, and also encourage the development of new, recalibrated life goals.


The week’s final talk was delivered by Amy Holloway and Amy Russell, Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners. This talk focussed on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as a method for overcoming low mood and anxiety. Importantly, referral processes to Psicon’s IAPT service were signposted, and the group discussed possible signs and symptoms of psychological problems.


Psicon would like to thank all who contributed to Mental Health Awareness Week – both speakers and attendees. Over the course of the week, more than 175 people registered for the talks, and we look forward to hosting further, similar events in the near future.