Your mental health

Everyone is unique so will respond differently to life’s ups & downs, stress & strain of modern life. There’s perception and reality differences too eg. what someone sees as difficulties, others see opportunities; stress for one, is pressure for another.

Even if we believe we’re not ‘the type’ to have poor mental health, illness or condition, the unexpected can happen. Experiences, situations, circumstances, life events, loss, injury, illness, family / friends and many more can affect our mental health. Performing arts, fitness and beauty industries have factors to contend with too.

Example 1. A performing arts learner misses out on a dream Peak part.  They feel disheartened and frustrated, and start to think negatively about themselves. – negatively affecting mental health. 

OR they put things into perspective via having constructive conversations with tutors. – maintaining mental health. 

Example 2. A fitness learner has a challenging home life. They keep quiet and try to maintain their college/life boundary.  Their college work starts deteriorating and course enjoyment decreases. – negatively affecting mental health.

OR they speak to their tutor who makes adjustments to accommodate their needs, and also refers them to RTA’s Learner Specialist Support. They start managing home and college life better, and college work improves –  recovering mental health.

Example 3 A beauty learner lives with a long-term mental health condition. A certain situation can trigger a negative state of mindnegatively affecting mental health and recovery strategies take time.

Another works out situation-specific strategies to manage, even avoid, those situations – maintaining, even boosting, mental health.

Thinking about the definition, it’s your emotional, psychological, physiological, and social well-being. It helps determine how you handle stress, relate to others, make choices and decisions.

It impacts:

  • How you function on a daily basis; how you think, feel, behave and act.
  • Your performance, whatever your industry.
  • Your problem-solving and decision making.
  • Your confidence, resilience – your bounceback, and forward, -ability.
  • Your potential to achieve and succeed.
  • Your ability to learn…. from your mistakes, experiences, cope with and manage change and uncertainty.

It affects:

  • How you communicate and interact with others.
  • Your ability to form, and maintain, relationships with others.

So in effect:

  • How you turn up: whether that’s at college, your job, to a party, to a client.
  • All those around you; family, friends, tutors, learners, clients

Mental ill health, illness, conditions, disorders; depression, anxiety, stress, PTSD, bipolar, self-harm, suicide, anorexia, bulimia, or any of the hundreds of clinically  diagnosable disorders.

Since the terms mental health and mental ill health have become interchangeable,  many people consciously, sub-consciously or unconsciously think of mental health issues, problems or illnesses when mental health is mentioned.

Poor mental health conditions or illnesses are diagnosed under the global standard of International Classification of Diseases 11 currently known as ICD.11, or under American Psychiatric Association’s fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as DSM-5.

We need to brake and break the connection – mental health is not mental ill health. Mental health is one thing, mental ill health is another.

“The correct view is that we all have mental health, & we fluctuate between thriving, struggling and being ill and possibly off work, college, school etc ”

This fluctuation can be monthly, daily, seasonally, or even hourly. Slipping into the amber zone doesn’t mean mental illness either. We may simply be having a tough time. That’s why self-awareness and being able to ‘spot’ our changes, enables us to act and recover sooner, often preventing further deterioration into crisis.

Many with long term mental health conditions live full lives, managing them with medication and/or support strategies etc, just as they would other long-term conditions.

Mental health is a continuum

Also known as neurodivergence or neurodivergent.  It is not a disability.  It is not a mental health condition, illness etc.

Definition: “Neurodivergence refers to differences in mental or neurological function from what is considered ‘typical’. This results from a difference in the way the brain develops before birth and during childhood, and affects how someone communicates, behaves and responds to the world around them.”

Those with neurodivergent conditions are more at risk of having mental illnesses or poor wellbeing, due to for example, a lack of support, understanding, the stress of ‘masking’ — acting to avoid negativity.  However, having poor mental health isn’t necessarily a given.

Neurodivergences are diagnosed under the global standard of International Classification of Diseases currently no. 11 known as ICD11 or under American Psychiatric Association’s fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as DSM-5.

… often confused with mental health issues E.g. Mencap describes dyslexia as a “learning difficulty” because, unlike learning disability, it does not affect intellect.

Definition: “A reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities – for example household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life.

People with a learning disability tend to take longer to learn and may need support to develop new skills, understand complicated information and interact with other people.”

These too will be diagnosed under the global standard of International Classification of Diseases currently no. 11 known as ICD11 or under American Psychiatric Association’s fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as DSM-5.

Resilience isn’t about endurance. Just because the word silence is in resilience, and silent isn in resilient, does not mean struggling in silence either.

Resilience is our capacity and ability to recover, refresh, to bounce-back, and forward, from disappointments, difficulties, challenges, adversity and setbacks.

It’s a skill we might have already, but we can learn and develop it too to manage everyday living. Simply put, it’s ‘R’ words, which speak for themselves:

Recover, recharge, refresh, rest, re-think, recuperate, repair, re-energise, resolve, restore, renew, re-group, reinvigorate, relax, respite, retreat, re-establish, revive, rejuvenate, revitalise, reframe.

Resilience matters because there are links between resilience and our ‘state’ [of mind] – our mood, attitude and our ability to manage/perform – personally and professionally.  So, it:

  • facilitates self-accountability. You’re in charge of your behaviour, thoughts, reactions, emotions.
  • enhances your ability to make things happen rather than them happening to you.

enables you to stay, or get back on top of things, manage them as they occur, meaning you’re less stressed, anxious, apprehensive which helps improve/gain confidence and professionalism.



Bethany auditioned for a dream role. Preparations were great and expectations high. Things didn’t go to plan. Bethany’s absolutely gutted and experiences a range of emotions.

Without resilience, Bethany remains gutted, disappointed and frustrated, with mood, attitude and behaviour changes. People avoid Bethany. Over time, relationships with others suffer. Bethany wants to give up.


after the immediate disappointment, Bethany:

  • sits down with tutors and gets feedback and pointers for future auditions.
  • shares frustrations with other learners and finds out they’re empathic and supportive. checks out Reynolds Training Academy wellbeing site for self-help ideas.
  • reflects on areas for improvement, what changes to make.
  • focuses on the present and looks forward to the next audition.



Whilst Matty is Ok with the practical fitness training, theory is very challenging. Matty’s concerned about what others might think, so keeps quiet. Matty tried very hard but failed an exam.

Without resilience, Matty gets very stressed, up tight and snappy. Other learners start avoiding Matty and Matty starts feeling very isolated, creating an increasingly negative cycle.


Matty talks to the tutor about theory being a struggle.  With tutor’s additional help, Matty re-thinks their learning process, and although that takes time, Matty starts to  better understand theory and feel more comfortable.



Sam gets some bad news the day before an important beauty assessment.

Without resilience, Sam’s stressed out and panicking about what to do, but also conflicted as this assessment is so important.


Sam takes a deep breath, assesses the situation…..what can I do? What’s within my control, what’s not. What’s important right now? Can I ‘park the personal’, and do the assessment? With a clear head, Sam does the assessment….. and passes

Losing someone important to you is one of the hardest things to experience in life. If you’re young, bereavement can be even more difficult. But support and advice are always available to help you get through these times.

Your teenage years can be a lot of fun, but they are also often an emotional time. If someone close to you dies, it can be incredibly hard. It can make you feel very alone, especially as a young person, because you might find that none of your friends have gone through anything similar and won’t understand or know what to say.

Your emotions after a bereavement

Grieving is a natural part of recovering from a bereavement, and everyone’s experience of grief is different. There are no rules about what we should feel, and for how long. But many people find they feel a mixture of the following:

  • sadness
  • shock, particularly if the death was unexpected.
  • relief, if the death followed a long period of illness.
  • guilt and regret
  • anger
  • anxiety
  • despair and helplessness
  • depression

These feelings may be very intense, particularly in the early days and weeks. Time eventually helps these intense emotions subside, and there’s no need to feel guilty about starting to feel better. It doesn’t mean you’re not respecting the person’s memory or forgetting about them.

Your family may all react differently to a bereavement. You may find it difficult to see your parents or other adults grieving and not know what to say to them. You could try just letting them know you’re there for them too while you get support yourself. Talking about your grief is an important part of getting through a bereavement. Choosing who to talk to about your feelings is a very personal decision. Sometimes the most unlikely person can offer the most support.

If you’ve lost a family member, someone else in your family may also be good to open up to because they’re likely to understand how you’re feeling.

A close friend can be a good listener and a source of comfort and support, even if they haven’t gone through this themselves.

Check out the Self Help Zone and Further Support for more ideas

Links between mental and physical health

It’s important to note that poor mental health is not ‘just in the mind’.  Mental health conditions can affect physical health, with mental illness associated with a range of very real, physical symptoms such as:

Palpitations, lethargy, digestion problems, high blood pressure, fatigue, shortness of breath, links to some cancers, headaches, skin conditions, upset tummies, muscle tension, pins and needles and so on.

These are some of the symptoms linked to mental health issues, not indicators of mental health issues on their own. Each person will react differently, and may experience very different, and a cluster of,  symptoms, and some may occur without our knowing.

It’s often far easier to deal with a physical injury, disability or illness.

For example, regardless of cohort, you could get injured or become ill. Whether you’re learning or you’ve progressed to working in your industry, you’ll need to manage absences; perhaps arrange cover and/or manage your clients. However, being unable to work as usual, potential financial worries, stress, could affect your mental health.

Some physical conditions, disabilities or long-term injuries can take a huge toll on our mental health too, especially when we’re trying to continue learning and working. That’s why knowing our personal signs when to take a break, pause or stop for a while are important.

Simply not being able to do what we want, for any physical reason, can have an impact. Depending on situation and incapacity, feelings such as isolated, frustration, distressed, overwhelmed, helpless may creep in and, unaddressed, affect our mental health.

Medication for a physical illness can sometimes affect mental health and/or mood too. Careful medication management is needed.

That’s why it’s important when we’re physically ill or injured, to be aware of our mental health when thinking about what’s the best course of action to take, including whether some extra support is needed, and accepting offers of support.

De-bunking myths about mental health

Wrong. As we all have physical health and all have mental health, how can mental health only affect a few people?! Again the misconnection that mental health = mental ill health.

Yes, 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health ‘issue’ or ‘problem’ in any given year, now many predict 1 in 3 since the Covid pandemic. Yet, this figure is misleading too as it implies that there is a distinct group of people who are affected by mental illness/ill-health. The unexpected can happen which can have an unknown impact.  Plus, mental illness can hugely impact on the friends and family of the person affected too, and sometimes on our horses too.

We all have mental health that needs care and attention. The mental health/ill-health of others can impact us too. Therefore, this should be….mental health affects us all.

Incorrect. The Mental Health Foundation cites 70% people make a full recovery. Recovery doesn’t always mean being free of all symptoms though.

Many people living with long term conditions manage it and live full, satisfying and successful lives. No different to living with, for example, diabetes, heart conditions, disabilities.

Yes, they can. Full time work might be unrealistic for some people with severe and enduring conditions. Appropriate workplace adjustments, and long-term medication can enable these people to work, whether part or full time, regardless of industry.

For the vast majority of people with a mental health condition, work is not only possible but beneficial. Work can be central to staying well and can play an important role in ensuring people feel connected to other people, are valued by society and have a purpose.

Being in performing arts, beauty and fitness industries in whatever capacity, is renowned for being particularly beneficial and indeed, therapeutic for both episodic and long-term conditions, and for mental health and well-being in general.

Oh, if it was that easy! A mental health condition is no different from a physical condition. It needs treatment just the same. ‘Snap out of it, pull yourself together, just get on with it’ – the list of clichés is endless.

People often say these however, when they don’t know what else to say, or lack mental health/ill-health knowledge or information.

Yet, such clichés can further hurt, and anger, those that are suffering, coming across as dismissive and/or indicating they’re not being heard, listened to, believed.

Telling someone with a mental health condition to ‘snap out of it’ is like telling someone with a broken leg to ‘just walk it off!’.

Taking medication for a mental health condition is no more ‘running away from your problems’ than taking painkillers for migraines, insulin for diabetes or medication for irritable bowel. It’s not running away, it’s management.

For many people, prescribed medication is a necessary and even lifesaving whether physical or mental health related. eg. heart disease, epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis, anxiety, depression, bipolar, and neuro-divergencies.

Far from ‘giving up’ and ‘running away’, medication represents a step towards and/or  dealing with the issue. For some conditions, medication often creates space for talking therapies to work.