This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and, as a psychology graduate as well as someone with a visual impairment, issues relating to mental health have always been of interest to me. #mentalhealthawarenessweek

According to recent statistic, when compared to the rest of the population, blind and partially sighted people have a lower feeling of well-being and satisfaction. More than four in 10 people attending low vision clinics are suffering from symptoms of clinical depression. Furthermore, 31 per cent of blind and partially sighted people were rarely or never optimistic about the future.

As the conversation generally about mental health has been more accepted – with more awareness surrounding this issue – so to has the popularity of mindfulness.

There are varying different and accepted definitions of mindfulness but on the whole it can help to relax, focus and find perspective in your life. Mindfulness often focuses on breathing techniques which can help calm, relax and encourage positive feelings of well-being.

Personally I was introduced to mindfulness when studying my degree in psychology and counselling. For most people, University can sometimes be stressful but, as a visually impaired student, I experienced a few more frustrating situations. That’s where mindfulness really helped me! Just taking some time out of your day to think about the present, gain perspective and to try and feel more relaxed, helped clarify in my mind what is really important. Mindfulness is now a part of my lifestyle which I feel has benefited me positively. 

As mindfulness is becoming more popular, so too is the way in which people can access different mindfulness routines, from 12 week courses, to Apps such as ‘Headspace’ or ‘Calm’, to YouTube video sessions. Of course mindfulness is not a one hit wonder. To feel the potential benefits of mindfulness it is recommended that you practice these techniques for at least 10 minutes a day or as often as you can manage.

I also feel that mindfulness is a beneficial way to help children and young people stay calm and focused in the face of difficult situations. As part of my University degree, we studied the potential benefits of teaching mindfulness to children and produced this video to help explain it in a way that hopefully connects with younger people:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vtev2OHF7yE&feature=youtu.be