It sounds like a flippant concept - offering young people surfing lessons to help combat their depression and low self-esteem - but it's encouraging news that the NHS is backing methods and programmes that aren't just about talking therapies and medication.
It's a £10,000 pilot not-for-profit scheme funded by the Dorset Healthcare University Foundation Trust and run by the Wave Project, and is open to people between the ages of 8 to 21. To qualify, you need to be referred by school, social services, mental health services or bereavement charities.
The Telegraph, which reported on the scheme that takes place in Dorset, said it is likely to face criticism due to the NHS being in "financial crisis" but mentioned the story of Brandon, an ADHD sufferer who had taken part in it.
His feedback was that it had given him more confidence. "Now I am more happy to make friends and I am not shy to let myself out there in the middle of the group instead of just standing back there in the shadows," he said.
Every volunteer has a mentor, and the fact that it doesn't feel like 'therapy' is what makes it successful, the BBC reported.
Joe Taylor, who runs the scheme, says: "What is great is it doesn't feel like therapy for the young people but there are therapeutic principles behind it such as reducing anxiety, promoting confidence and well-being.
"It's the sense they have gone into a challenge that they did not necessarily believe they could do, discovered they could do it and that people were supporting them, making them feel more able to do all sorts of different things in their lives."
FAST FACTS ABOUT CHILDREN AND MENTAL ILLNESS
- 1 in 10 children have a mental illness
- 80,000 children and young people have severe depression
- 6% of children have a conduct disorder
- 2% have a hyperkinetic disorder such as ADHD
- Emotional disorders are biggest cause of absence in school among mentally ill children
One of the biggest challenges the scheme faces is whether people take it seriously. But a lot of work has gone into seeing whether it actually works. The Telegraph added that two local doctors, Laura Bond and Sarah Colpus, who volunteer at the Wave Projecty presented research about it at the British Association of Sports and Exercise Medicine Conference.
Their findings were based on over 100 questionnaires filled in by young people before and after the surfing course, feedback from carers and parents and found the majority felt their confidence, self-esteem and wellbeing had improved afterwards, as well as their performance in school.
Dr Bond said: "Having volunteered with the Wave Project this year, we have seen first hand the really positive impact that the project has on young people who are referred to it.
"But now we have evidence to support the incredible feedback we have seen from clients and parents, so we hope that surfing will be taken more seriously as an intervention by medical professionals."
A big question will also be around whether this can be widened to include other types of activity and pin-pointing what it is that makes this scheme a success.
Whatever the future of the Wave Project, it is evident that it has helped at least one boy. Brandon added: "Starting new challenges like this helps me look forward to other challenges. I feel more focused and I'm not afraid to do something different."
<br>One way to sabotage yourself is to take a single event and treat it as an ongoing source of negativity. "People who are unemployed do this a lot," says Rego. "They've lost their job because of the economy and they personalize it." <br><br> It's also unhealthy to catastrophize--focus on the worst imagined outcome, even if it's irrational. For example, don't let concerns about money escalate into the conviction you'll soon be homeless.<br><br> Instead of thinking, "I'll never get another job," try to say to yourself: "I will get another job. It just may take some time."<br><br> <strong>More From Health:</strong> <br> <br><a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20515167,00.html" target="_hplink">12 Surprising Causes of Depression</a><br> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20581256,00.html" target="_hplink">Dos and Don'ts for Dealing with Anger</a><br> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20526304,00.html" target="_hplink">20 Celebrities Who Battled Depression</a><br>
Ever clash with a colleague or fight with a friend and then keep obsessively thinking about it, amplifying the anger, stress, and anxiety associated with the memory? Known as rumination, this type of thinking is linked to a greater risk of becoming or staying depressed. <br><br> While reflection is a good thing, and may help you solve problems, rumination does the opposite. <br><br> If you catch yourself ruminating, studies suggest it may help if you try to distract yourself, meditate, or redirect your thoughts. Cognitive behavioral therapy often targets rumination because it can be so damaging to mental health.
Retire Your Crystal Ball
Very few (if any) of us are blessed with the ability to predict the future. But depressed people will often convince themselves they know what will happen a day, a month, or a year down the line. And it's usually bad, if not downright catastrophic. <br><br> Fortunately, our dire predictions rarely come true. <br><br> Try to stay in the present. It's much more manageable and you're less likely to blow things out of proportion.
Don't Dwell On The Past
It's pretty pointless to tell yourself you<em> should</em> have done this or <em>shouldn't</em> have done that. You can't change the past, but you can live in the present. <br><br> Just accept that you made the best decisions you could have made with the information or resources you had at the time. Hindsight is always 20/20, so best to try to just let it go and don't beat yourself up for perceived missteps. <br><br> And do a rumination check; ruminating about the past can generate anxiety, just as worry about the future.
Reach Out To Others
A hallmark of depression is isolation. It can happen easily if you're not working, or you're avoiding people because you're depressed. But reinvigorating or expanding a social network provides an opportunity to get support, perhaps even from people in the same or a similar situation, says Rego. <br><br> "Once you start reconnecting with people, you get a sense they understand," he says. "You get positive advice and encouragement and it's often done in activities that end up being fun." <br><br> Staying home alone will perpetuate the depression. Getting out with other people--even a little bit--will lift your spirits.
Stick To A Structured Routine
Even if you don't feel like it, make sure you get up at a set time, eat meals at the same hour every day (even if you're not hungry), and avoid lounging on the couch during the day lest it prevent you from sleeping well at night. <br><br> "People who are depressed tend to eat or sleep inconsistently," says Rego. "Even if you're unemployed or feeling down, it's really important to set and establish a daily routine as best you can. This gives you a sense of regularity that can help with a depressed mood." <br><br> If you can incorporate socializing into your routine, all the better.
Avoid Black And White Thinking
Black and white is great for zebras, but not thoughts. Depressed people tend to think in extremes: I'm a loser. No one loves me. I'll never get a job. <br><br> But your thought patterns could put you in a rut or keep you there. "Being depressed or sad is going to color the way you think about yourself in a negative direction," says Rego. <br><br> These thoughts can paralyze you and stop you from doing the very things that will get you out of a lousy situation. Try to think in shades of gray, says David R. Blackburn, PhD,a psychologist with Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Texas. Instead of "no one loves me," try "lots of people (if not everybody) love me."
Reality Check Your Thoughts
If you're depressed, negative thoughts go with the territory. However, they are rarely grounded in reality. <br><br> Once you've identified a negative thought, ask yourself, "Where is the evidence that I'm the most despicable human being on the entire earth?" There probably isn't any. <br><br> "You can't just be rattling these thoughts back and forth and saying they're true," says Blackburn. "You have to come up with some solid evidence." <br><br> And if you're worried about what people are thinking about you, go ahead and ask them.
Choose Smart Goals
Select a few simple, straightforward goals you can easily set and follow, suggests Rego. Those goals should be <em>SMART</em>, which stands for "specific, measurable, attainable, rewarding, and time-limited." <br><br> So for example, deciding you will have a job by the end of the week is unrealistic. <br><br> But deciding to post two resumes online by the end of the week, on the other hand, is <em>SMART</em>. "It's specific. It's attainable. It's not that much effort to do and it could be rewarding," says Rego.
Fake It A Bit
Write down all the things you used to like doing that you've stopped doing because you're sad and depressed, suggests Rego, who is also assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. <br><br> That could be going to the movies, socializing with friends, or simply going to the corner coffee shop with a newspaper. <br><br> Then, one by one, start reincorporating these activities into your life even if you're feeling unenthusiastic about it. Also, focus on tasks that can give you a sense of mastery or accomplishment, whether it's tidying up the apartment or paying the bills. That can help ease the depression as well. <br> <br><strong>More From Health:</strong> <br> <br><a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20515167,00.html" target="_hplink">12 Surprising Causes of Depression</a><br> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20581256,00.html" target="_hplink">Dos and Don'ts for Dealing with Anger</a><br> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20526304,00.html" target="_hplink">20 Celebrities Who Battled Depression</a><br>
Don't Deny Depression
If your present situation, well, sucks, denying it will only make things worse. "Some people don't accept they're depressed and instead beat themselves up or think they're crazy or weak," says Rego. <br><br> This may only drive you deeper down, while acceptance can relieve the suffering, he says. <br><br> In general, knowing and accepting that you're depressed can allow you to take steps to make it better or get treatment, rather than pretend that everything's just fine.
Treat Yourself Well
Take a look at the language you use when you think about or talk to yourself and compare it to the way you talk to everyone else. If there's a disconnect, try to treat yourself in a kinder, gentler way. <br><br> "We're often kind to everybody else but we beat ourselves up. That's a double standard," says Blackburn. "It would be preferable to use a single standard: Don't beat everyone else up, but get off your own back, too." <br> <br><strong>More From Health:</strong> <br> <br><a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20515167,00.html" target="_hplink">12 Surprising Causes of Depression</a><br> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20581256,00.html" target="_hplink">Dos and Don'ts for Dealing with Anger</a><br> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20526304,00.html" target="_hplink">20 Celebrities Who Battled Depression</a><br>