The latest Phil Evans column from the South Wales Evening Post
The latest Phil Evans column from the South Wales Evening Post.
Comedian Phil Evans is from Ammanford. He is known as the man who puts the ‘cwtsh’ into comedy.
Mental health in the open!
This year’s Mental Health Day on October 10 coincided with National Chocolate Week.
There’s a connection, which I’ll explain later.
If you haven’t experienced mental health issues personally or through someone you know, you’re lucky, because statistics reveal that one in four of us in Wales will at some point have a mental health problem.
That means, out of a population of approximately three million, around 750,000 of us have had, will have, or currently have mental health problems.
That’s an astonishingly high proportion for a country our size.
Some mental health problems, like becoming stressed during a challenging time in our lives, only last until the matter is resolved.
More serious problems can last years or even a lifetime.
They all have a debilitating effect on sufferers and the people closest to them.
Our bodies are designed to withstand short periods of stress, but not constant stress, ‘the silent killer’ which can develop into physical symptoms like high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks - or into mental problems like severe depression.
Post-natal depression is something we often hear about, but until the wife of a friend developed it a few weeks after giving birth, I had no idea how devastating its effect could be.
It can last up to a year, even if the new mother takes prescribed medication, and as long as three years if she doesn’t.
During the first important weeks when a mother needs to bond with her child, the young woman I know was deeply depressed and completely disinterested in her baby.
Such was her bleak state of mind that, even after being prescribed strong medication, she attempted suicide.
Thankfully, she survived, was given expert, sympathetic counselling, eventually accepted her baby and now lives a normal life.
I mentioned National Chocolate Week because it’s been proven that chocolate (the dark variety, in particular) is beneficial to people’s mental well-being.
So, we should eat some dark chocolate occasionally, but not too much.
Otherwise we’ll gain weight. Not good for anyone prone to depression.
If you ever become severely depressed, the first thing to do is to tell someone exactly how you feel.
Whether that initial talk is with a counsellor, friend or relative it doesn’t matter.
It’s a major step towards your recovery.
A problem shared really is a problem halved – because it’s been brought out into the open.
Well, to coin a phrase, you either love it or you hate it.
The UK is seeing an official Marmite shortage due to Unilever requesting that Tesco increase their prices.
Now, we all have our shopping staples, the brands that we buy every time we shop, but why do we do it?
Is it because that's what our parents or grandparents bought?
Is it time to make a change?
With so much wonderful local produce to choose from, I think I might just start shopping a lot closer to home.
This begs the question, “how much more expensive will it be?”
But here's a question for you: how much of your shopping do you throw out each week?
We throw away seven million tonnes of food and drink every year in the UK, and more than half of this is food and drink we could have eaten.
Wasting this food costs the average household £470 a year, rising to £700 for a family with children, the equivalent of around £60 a month.
How about we start shopping a bit smarter and more local?
I'm up for it. Are you?
Something to look forward to!
This time of year can leave so many of us feeling tired, depressed and lacking the motivation to do things.
It's a curse that so many face and a growing concern.
Part of the problem is the lack of things to look forward to.
Have you ever noticed how much more you manage to get done if you have a deadline?
It's a well-known fact that the majority of people find the energy and enthusiasm to complete a task or get more done before a special event or a holiday.
We all need things to look forward to and our diaries should have enough interesting things booked in over the short and medium term to keep us focused.
This is so important on so many levels.
Life is about experiences, adventure, lasting memories, family and friends.
This lifestyle change needn't be an expensive process, as with careful planning, some creative thinking and collaboration with friends there can be loads of wonderful adventures awaiting us, thereby lifting our spirits in the weeks and months to come.
Go on, get planning, give it a go.
You can thank me later.
You can follow Phil Evans on Twitter @philevanswales and www.philevans.co.uk