ACM Safeguarding Lead, Chris East – “It’s Good to Talk”

03 Feb 2021

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

Let’s be honest, those of us who have experienced poor mental health know it sucks. You want to be happy and not be pessimistic, negative or dismissive. You want those around you to enjoy your positive characteristics, yet you can’t help but feel your presence is somewhat of a burden at times…you spend more time worrying about what others think and less about giving yourself time and space to focus on you.

Don’t be afraid to survive. You know you can talk to me, talk to me, talk to me. I will be right here waiting by your side.

Over the course of 11 years I worked in and out of various gyms as a personal trainer, 5 years of this I thought it would be a good idea to be self-employed. It was easier to train with my clients than it was to train myself. I found it hard to find the motivation or the discipline to stay focused unless I was barking out orders and focusing on someone else.

Now I work in Safeguarding, something to date I have been doing, in some form or another, for the past 12 years. Similar to the challenges I found as a personal trainer when maintaining my own fitness, I have found it much easier to look after others than I have myself as a Safeguarding Lead.

Within Safeguarding I meet many challenges on a daily basis, In these moments I tend to forget about my own feelings and mental capability, because, in my view, in that instance the student or staff member is of far higher importance than I am. 

Thinking of others before yourself can be a great characteristic to possess, however, like most things in life, there needs to be a healthy balance. 

On a daily basis many mini traumas can potentially come our way, your mind, unfortunately, won’t allow you to just dismiss them as the norm or think they’re not worth wasting time over. Instead, if you neglect the need to process what has happened during your day, your mind will use psychological and sometimes physiological side effects to draw your attention to the issue. This is not always easy to handle or manage on your own.

I’m fortunate enough to work with a great team within ACM Student Services, who all have a heart to support our students as well as our colleagues to the best of our ability. 

Please swallow your pride, if I have things you need to borrow. For no one can fill, those of your needs that you won’t let show. You just call on me brother when you need a hand, We all need somebody to lean on

Talking can be a way to cope with a problem you’ve been carrying around in your head for a while. It can be a massive relief to bring the thoughts in your head out into the open, it helps you to process what exactly is causing you harm, frustration, anger or distress. 

Choosing someone you trust is essential to making this approach work, this decision needs to be thought through very carefully. Make sure to start by thinking of a suitable person, someone who you know well or is in a professional position that is suitable for this form of support. 

Within ACM we have a student services team who will find the right professional for you, we fill in any necessary paperwork and make contact on your behalf, internally as well as externally if there is a need.

It is not a sign of weakness to feel the need to talk about your feelings. In fact, it shows strength to take charge of your well being and focus on your health. Just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone. And it works both ways. If you open up, it might encourage others to do the same.

Finding the words to describe how you’re feeling can be difficult at times. If one word isn’t enough, use lots. Try and think of what it feels like inside your head? Explore the potential root causes of why you feel the way you do.

It’s sometimes thought you need to sit down at a specific time and place in order for this to work, in fact, it is sometimes better if conversations like this develop naturally. If it feels awkward at first, give it time. 

Make talking about your feelings something that you do.

When opening up to someone:

Things to do:

  • Approach with a desire for a positive outcome
  • Be honest with yourself
  • Try and draw your attention to the root cause
  • Accept support if it is offered
  • Explain your feelings in detail to help someone understand
  • Remember you matter, you are very important and have value

Things to avoid:

  • Over dramatising things
  • Dismissing someone’s offer of support
  • Dismissing compliments
  • Telling someone they don’t understand

When supporting someone opening up:

Things to do:

  • Tell them you care
  • Ask how you can help
  • Express empathy and understanding
  • Be supportive

Things to avoid:

  • Minimise their feelings or dismiss their symptoms
  • Compare their feelings to others
  • Express apathy
  • Call them selfish

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.