To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Module Leader Child & Adolescent Mental Health Hereward Proops shares his story.

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Hereward Proops is a LCC UHI lecturer who teaches on a variety of courses including our CPD Award in Child & Adolescent Mental Health 

We all know about the benefits of healthy living. From an early age, we are taught about the importance of exercise, a balanced diet and good hygiene. We know that if we look after our bodies, we reduce the risk of illness and we feel better in ourselves. People are not threatened by the word “health” and most people are willing to talk about it. However, place the word “mental” in front of it, and people may be much less willing to open up and share their experiences. 

Perhaps the word “mental” has negative connotations. As a child, I recall myself and my contemporaries using it as an adjective to describe something that was unreasoning, unreasonable, out-of-control or just plain crazy. Nobody wants to be seen as “mental” and this stigma is perhaps what is making it so difficult to engage in sensible, open discussion about “mental health”.

The reality is, mental health affects every single one of us. The word “mental” simply refers to aspects or functions of the mind. Very few people would claim that they don’t have a mind, so why should we feel unable to discuss it? 

Inverness Science Festival returns this month – entirely on-line – with a range of activities for people of all ages.

The Festival is organised by the University of the Highlands and Islands science technology engineering and maths (STEM) team.

Running from Thursday 29 April to Saturday 15 May, the event aims to inspire people to learn more about science and to develop a passion for subjects including biology, chemistry, astronomy and physics.

This year's event will include a virtual lab tour, a biology-themed knitting event and an online lecture about the crossover between art and archaeology.

There will also be a range of family resources and try at home activities developed with support from Aberdeen Science Centre and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. Children can learn how to build a Lego catapult, make a battery from an orange or create a mini satellite.

A virtual science, technology, engineering and maths fayre will be held on Monday 3 May to celebrate the University of the Highlands and Islands' tenth birthday, with hands-on activities linked to a variety of university courses.

The festival will draw to a close on Saturday 15 May with an online pub quiz where participants will be encouraged to test their knowledge on a range of scientific topics.

Evelyn Gray, the university's STEM Administrator, said: "The Inverness Science Festival team have worked hard to create an exciting virtual programme to inspire people of all ages about science.

"The online format means that people don't have to be in the Inverness to enjoy the events and activities, the festival can now be accessed from anyone across the globe!

"It's fantastic to be part of such a fun event, particularly in the year our university partnership celebrates its tenth birthday. We hope you can join us!"

To see the full programme of online events and activities, visit the Inverness Science Festival website at www.uhi.ac.uk/isf or follow Inverness Science Festival on Facebook and the #InvSciFest hashtag on Twitter.

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been far reaching and impacted communities across the world.

Now Lews Castle College UHI is launching a new project to assess how the pandemic has particularly impacted on how people in rural and remote areas in Scotland seek help for physical symptoms.

It is already well established that seeking help for health reasons can take longer and be more complicated in remote areas such as the Outer Hebrides.

There is now growing concern that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be an increase in the number of deaths that can be avoided from things like cancer or heart disease, and that this could impact on those living in remote in rural communities.

Researchers from LCC UHI want to understand what influences help-seeking for new physical health symptoms, and to understand what people feel are barriers to seeking help. Knowing this will help to inform public health messages and help design better access to healthcare services.

Project leader Dr Gareth Davies said: “At LCC UHI our research and innovation activity is centered in our communities and we use our expertise to collaborate and engage with national and international projects and initiatives. It is essential that our work reflects the needs of our local communities.

This project seeks to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the way people seek helps for physical symptoms. This can affect peoples’ health and their ability work and contribute to the local and regional economy.”

NHS Western Isles Research & Development Lead, Martin Malcolm, said: “The Western Isles in common with areas across the country have seen reductions in people accessing services during the pandemic for variety of reasons.  It's important to understand these as we seek to encourage people to continue to come forward with concerning health complaints.

“This study is greatly welcome and will complement our NHS data to help us understand the factors involved, particularly in our remote and rural communities. 

"NHS Western Isles is committed to collaborating with local research that addresses the particular challenges around health among our remote island communities.”

We are currently looking for people to take part in our research. Find out more on the research project and how you can take part here -

https://www.lews.uhi.ac.uk/research/harp-cov-help-seeking-among-rural-populations/