Courses help boost confidence and well-being to improve mental health

09 May 2016

As Mental Health Week (May 16th – 22nd) approaches, a leading Suffolk social enterprise says health and wellbeing courses can help people improve their mental health.


Deborah Williams, lead curriculum manager for Realise Futures Learning and Development, said: “There is a well-documented link between informal learning and improved mental health and wellbeing.


“Put simply, learning something new boosts your confidence and self-esteem, and the companionship and support which a course offers can be hugely beneficial.”


Deborah and her health and wellbeing team will be out during Mental Health Week staging free stressbusting sessions.


Realise Futures will also be offering a range of workshops on topics such as clearing the clutter, meditation and stress management.


Here are Deborah’s top stressbusting tips to improve mental health:


Sleep:  If our sleep patterns are disrupted, our wellbeing suffers.

  • One hour before you intend to sleep turn off all screens (TV, laptop, mobile phone, tablets) and spend an hour just relaxing and winding down.
  • Turn off any electrical items in the bedroom; standby lights can disrupt your sleep.
  • If you have difficulty turning your mind off, try writing down anything you are worrying about or need to remember for the next day and then leave the list outside the bedroom (this technique also works well for those who tend to bring their work home with them.) Get a notepad, write down any work concerns, issues or stuff to do the next day and then leave the notepad in your car or your work bag - don’t bring it into your living space.


Space:  We all need quiet time, time to relax and think, with the pressures of work and family life it can be hard to find time for you; how can you make a little time just to be yourself for a while?

Fresh air and exercise: No Lycra or gym fees are required. Studies show that walking for as little as five minutes has a positive effect on mood, for those of us who live in busy town centres, green space and fresh air can seem hard to find - but even in the centre of Ipswich there are parks and churchyards or quieter tree-lined streets. A gentle stroll will help melt the stresses and strains away, a faster walk will energise and calm you. If you're lucky enough to have a garden, then there are few things better for mood than a potter round or a weeding session.

Sing: Singing helps you to breathe more deeply. So sing in your car or in the shower or while you do your housework, and if you find you enjoy it then why not join a choir?

Stretch: When we're stressed our posture suffers, and it's easy to end up with a stiff neck or sore back. A gentle stretch out will do you the world of good.

Take time to do nothing: Just sit quietly with a cup of tea or coffee and relax for a few minutes; you don't need to be multi-tasking all the time. If you're at work, step away from your desk and take your cup of tea for a stroll round the car park; you'll return to your work much refreshed

Chocolate: The darker the better. A couple of squares of chocolate with a high cocoa content (77 per cent or higher) can help to lift your mood.


Get help or advice: Despite what you may hear on the news, there is help and support available.  Ask your GP, or pop into your local library or learning centre and take a look at what's on offer. You are not alone, there are helplines and support groups and people who care. Make one small change in your life and you will quickly feel the benefits.


Mental Health Week is a UK event supported by The Mental Health Foundation charity. The aim is to educate the public about mental health issues and to promote better mental health.


Deborah added: “Our health and wellbeing curriculum includes courses on stress management, confidence and wellbeing, and a range of ‘get creative’ courses to learn art and crafts, creative writing and cookery.” 


“Stress and anxiety are major issues in our society, and we are worried that many people feel that they have to just get on and try to cope.


“In fact, help and support is available through GPs, the NHS Suffolk Wellbeing Service - www.readytochange.org.uk - and through other organisations. There is also a wealth of information available at your local library or your local learning centre.”


Realise Futures Learning and Development (RFLD) delivers around 100 Ofsted-good graded courses for around 7,000 people aged 19+ every year from eight learning centres in Ipswich, Newmarket, Felixstowe, Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket.


Anyone interested in health and wellbeing courses from Realise Futures, can book by calling 0300 456 2050 or visiting www.rflearn.co.uk to download a brochure giving details of all the courses available.


Realise Futures’ learning centres are at: 

Murrayside Learning Centre in Nacton Road, Ipswich, IP3 9JL

Pemberton House Learning Centre in Curriers Lane, Ipswich, IP1 2AQ

Newmarket Learning Centre, Foley House, Wellington Street, Newmarket CB8 0HY

Felixstowe Learning Centre in Orwell Road, Felixstowe, IP11 7DB

Lowestoft Learning Centre in Regent Road, Lowestoft, NR32 1PA

Learning Centre at Bury Library, Sergeants Walk, St Andrews Street North,

Bury St Edmunds, IP33 1TZ

House at Newton, Newton Park, Newton Road, Bury St Edmunds IP29 5LU.

Community Learning Centre in Ipswich Street, Stowmarket, IP14 1AD