ACM Safeguarding Lead, Chris East – “The Battle of the Mind”

10 Feb 2021

This post was written more than two years ago. The content or information below may no longer be accurate.

Many people struggle on a daily basis with poor mental health, their condition could be linked to a number of influences and triggered as a result of various daily activities.

Chris East – Designated Safeguarding Lead

It’s not known the exact cause, however, mental health can develop as a direct result of, but not limited to:

  • Family history
  • Life event
  • Serious medical illness or injury
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Changes in brain development
  • Negative relationships

I know from personal experience that anxiety can hit you for no reason, one second you’re fine, the next you feel like you’re freefalling with a broken parachute. Poor mental health isn’t a decision someone makes, no-one thinks:

I know what, I want to feel absolutely rubbish today.

In fact, what actually happens is that our first thought in the morning and the last at night is: 

Will I make it through the next hour / meeting / activity / night without struggling with whatever my mind throws at me.

This fear-based thought process is not only painful but also extremely damaging and is what leads people to completely shut down and act out of character. Our inner Fight or Flight mechanism completely collapses and so all we have left is Flight.

But what can we do?

Linkin Park – One More Light:

Just ’cause you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it, isn’t there.

What are your coping mechanisms?

“Coping Mechanism – noun Psychology:
An adaptation to environmental stress that is based on conscious or unconscious choice and that enhances control over behavior or gives psychological comfort.

You don’t need to have a mental illness to need a coping mechanism, in fact we all have coping mechanisms to handle specific situations. As the definition above states this can sometimes manifest itself as an “unconscious choice”

However, not all coping mechanisms are positive, including:

  • Excessive Alcohol Consumption
  • Substance Misuse
  • Overeating
  • Avoidance
  • Catastrophizing 
  • Denial of circumstance
  • Self Sabotage

A dangerous spiral of actions born out of negative emotion that lead to a perceived self-created warzone surrounding us, that is void of comfort.

This statement may seem overdramatic, if I’m honest, that was exactly what I was aiming for. Sometimes we need to realise what it is we’re battling with in order to develop a strategic plan of escape.

I have witnessed many peoples struggles with the impact of negative coping mechanisms, I know all too well how easy it is to fall into one of the above examples. 

As a Designated Safeguarding Lead, part of my job is to identify a problem, find a solution and manage the referral process. However, none of this is worth anything unless I utilise empathy and compassion. I’m not going to cure someone’s mental illness, however, I can try and make it more manageable.

My heart is not only to meet the requirements of the role I am employed to do but also to make a difference in someone’s life by imparting wisdom, showing support and to a certain extent being there during some of the tricky twists and turns of life’s journey.

Part of my role is to educate on the best ways to handle a negative situation or crisis, it’s my belief that unless you have an effective plan of action you’re not going to achieve a positive outcome.

Lauren Daigle – Rescue:

There’s never been a moment you were forgotten. You are not hopeless, Though you have been broken. I hear you whisper underneath your breath, I hear your SOS.

The Rescue Plan

Do I need to change my situation?

Do I need to find a better way to cope with the situation?

Mental health is made worse by certain influences or situations in our daily lives. You need to look at what it is you’re struggling with most:

  • Is there an unhealthy relationship that is causing you sadness and anxiety?
  • Is your work/life balance causing you sleepless nights or sleep-filled days?
  • Is your lifestyle causing you more harm than good?

Once you have identified your main issues you can start finding solutions by approaching them one at a time. This can be by addressing specific problems or emotions.


  • Negative Relationship
    • Either leaving the relationship or discussing issues with the other person
  • Too much work
    • Can you ask for help?
  • Not eating healthily
    • Plan at least two healthy meals a week
  • Drinking too much
    • Start gradually cutting back


  • Quick to anger
    • Are there unresolved issues relating to the topic matter that accelerates these feelings?
  • Over anxious
    • Do you give yourself enough time to focus on you?
  • Increased feelings of stress
    • How much time away from work or electronic devices do you give yourself?
  • Low Mood
    • Have you identified what causes this emotion the most?

Sometimes the problems and emotions are linked, it’s through this process of investigating our emotions that we truly understand ourselves. In turn, it will help to relieve the pressure on our mental health.

Don’t do this alone, find someone who can support you through the more tricky elements of this process. 

Why not reach out to ACM student services? We can liaise on your behalf with other ACM departments if this is something you find particularly difficult, remember we’re here to help and make sure you are capable of every success whilst studying with us. 

As you work through what is having a negative impact on your mental health, try replacing unhelpful coping mechanisms with these more positive options:

  • Take regular time-out
  • Eat well-balanced meals
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine
  • Get enough sleep
  • Go for a daily walk (10 Minutes around the block will suffice)
  • Pause for a moment when meeting stressful situations
  • Set manageable expectations of yourself
  • Welcome humor
  • ‘Try’ and find something positive in every situation
  • Support someone else
  • Regularly review and identify what triggers your anxiety
  • Talk to someone

If you would like more information on how to access our counselling services, please contact, alternatively, you can learn more on our Student Services Canvas page or Student Support page.

If you have a concern for your wellbeing or that of someone else associated with ACM, please contact the safeguarding team on or call us on 01483 910197.