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It is Mental Health Awareness Week and we reached out to our readers to have a frank and honest chat about mental health and the workplace.

If you’re suffering with mental health issues like depression or an anxiety disorder, then you know all too well that there are days when going into the office feels completely and utterly impossible.

You may be too anxious to get on your train or maybe your depression is so severe you can’t even manage to get yourself out of bed.

They are real and valid issues, but why are we so afraid to talk about them?

52 percent of SHEmazing readers said they have taken a ‘mental health’ day from work, but more often than not we give our boss a different reason for our absence.

There are so many incredible people working hard to break the stigma surrounding mental health disorders, but we still live in fear of telling someone that ‘I can’t go to work this morning because I’ve had a massive panic attack.’

We can often feel ashamed or embarrassed when opening up about our mental health issues, but why is this?

A fear of not being taken seriously is one of the biggest reasons. When asked if they felt comfortable talking to their boss about their mental health issues, a striking 83 percent of our readers said no.

So, what can workplaces do to help their employees when it comes to their mental health because saying ‘it is okay not to be okay’ simply isn’t enough anymore.

With suicide rates increasing, we need to provide proper services and support for those suffering.

Our readers had some incredible recommendations about what can be done to support mental health in the workplace.

One reader said: “There should be a liaison officer in your workplace that you can speak to that will keep your anonymity and help you.”

“Allow employees to take a mental health day,” was one of the biggest recommendations.

Others said meditation classes, yoga, flexi-time and regular reminders about self-care would also help.

However, the recommendation that stood out the most was to simply treat it like any other illness. You wouldn’t expect an employee with a flu or broken leg to trek into the office so why should those with crippling depression or a panic disorder feel pressured to show up on days when they feel as low as can be?

Support the See Change campaign this week by wearing a green ribbon and showing those who are suffering that they are never alone.

It is time to put an end to mental health stigma.

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Women's Aid have launched a new guide on safety orders for young women who are experiencing abuse in their relationships, due to new laws being introduced.

The legislation brought in at the beginning of this year allows women who are going through dating abuse to apply for Safety and Protection orders.

Women's Aid are instigating the guide on Valentine's Day as part of the #TooIntoYou campaign to emphasise the darker side of love.

RTÉ's Can't Stop Dancing presenter Bláthnaid Treacy is also urging young women and men to "know the signs of dating abuse", especially because 60 percent of abuse in relationships begins before the age of 25.

Women's Aid are a national organisation which provides vital information and support to women experiencing dating abuse and domestic violence. Their #TooIntoYou campaign aims to spread much-needed awareness on the topic.

#TooIntoYou uses social media and poster advertising to strive for the spread of information from February 14 until March 8 (International Women's Day).

New laws brought in at the start of 2019 under the Domestic Violence Act 2018 allow women to apply for important Safety and Protection laws.

However, the organisation believes that many young women are still in the dark about the change and how to get the necessary protection, which is why Women's Aid ae bringing in the 'Guide to Safety Orders in Dating Relationships' online today.

Spotting the 10 key danger signs of dating abuse and providing information to combat online stalking and digital abuse is of imperative importance for women in Ireland today.

Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid says:

"1 in 5 women in Ireland experience abuse in relationships and in a national survey on domestic abuse in Ireland, almost 60 percent of those who had experienced severe abuse in intimate relationships first experienced it when they were under the age of 25."

"A stark reminder of this risk is that 1 in every 2 women, aged between 18-25, killed in Ireland since 1996 were murdered by their boyfriends or exes," Martin concluded.

The campaign is being launched on Valentine's Day to highlight the hidden reality of many young women's relationships, despite the fact that today is traditionally associated with love and romance.

Martin's goal for today, is to ask the hard questions; "We are clearly asking – what part of love is abuse?" She spoke directly to victims and survivors; “You are not alone in feeling something isn't right with your relationship."

Visit the #TooIntoYou website here for more information, or call the Women's Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline at 1800 341 900.

Feature image: Instagram'/@womens.aid

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Ever sit down to your morning fry and think "God, I wish there was Viagra in my sausages?"

Well, now there can be!

Save Our Sausages (or SOS) is a new campaign by the founder of Fathers4Justice, Matt O’Connor, and – in a bid to improve the state of male mental health – Matt has helped develop a brand of totally edible pork sausages which contain natural Viagra.

According to The Metro, these culinary delights are infused with L’Arginine, Horny Goat Week, Red Chinese and Siberian Ginseng, all of which assist those with erectile dysfunction.

Matt – who worked on the sausages with The Butchery – believes the product will help get British men talking about the hugely prevalent issues of depression, suicide and low testosterone.    

He says the new series of Cold Feet made him realise that humour is a great way to prompt discussions among men about difficult topics and so he thought the sausages would “help break the wall of silence”.

Fair play!

Feat image: Getty

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As anyone who's ever shared a makeup free selfie will know, going into our image obsessed world barefaced can be a terrifying experience.  So can you imagine how must courage it must take for someone with a noticeable skin condition to expose themselves online?

This is the challenge former model Breanne Rice faced when she decided to make public a picture of her natural face after spending 12 years covering up her skin with thick makeup.

At 19 Breanne was diagnosed with vitiligo – an autoimmune disorder which causes skin colour to be lost in blotches – after she woke up one morning with a new white mark on her normally sallow face.  Over time that mark developed into numerous pale patches which left Breanne feeling self-conscious about her appearance.

 

 

At 19, I was diagnosed with vitiligo, and it spread rapidly causing me to lose over half of the pigment on my face. Yeah. Not the bottom of my foot or my arm..but ONLY on my face. I got really good at doing my makeup, and I didn't want anyone to know about it. I couldn't look in the mirror without crying, and feeling unattractive. When I am exposed to the sun, it tans my healthy skin and leaves my vitiligo even more noticeable. It's taken me a very long time to be able to go public with this, and to walk around publicly without any makeup. Why? Because it's my face. Although I would like to say I am super confident and it never gets to me, sometimes it does. Some days people make comments saying "what happened to your face?!" Sometimes if I have a crush on someone I am worried about them seeing me without makeup and worry that they won't think I'm cute. It's like ohh hey by the way..this is the real me underneath all this. You know what though, I own it. There's not much I can do about it. I can only love myself, and not let my circumstances define my value or self-worth. What is the definition of beautiful anyway? Is it being perfect? What do you see when you look in the mirror? Perhaps you have a circumstance or something about yourself that you are insecure about. Don't let it define you. You deserve love, and you are beautiful  #vitiligo #beauty #perfect #seattle #health #holistic #nutrition #inspire #encourage #love #selfworth #loveyourself #digestion #autoimmune #vitiligoselfie #vitiligolove #vitiligobeauties #healing #healthyskin #skin #pigment #inspiring #inspirational #vitiligo #love #selflove #beauty

A photo posted by BreanneRice (@breannerice) on

 

But in March this year the nutritional therapist decided she had had enough of covering up and, in a bid to help others regain their confidence, Breanne took to Instagram to share her story.

In a barefaced post which has since gone viral, Breanne wrote: “At 19, I was diagnosed with vitiligo, and it spread rapidly causing me to lose over half of the pigment on my face.”

“I got really good at doing my makeup, and I didn't want anyone to know about it. I couldn't look in the mirror without crying, and feeling unattractive.”

 

 

“It's taken me a very long time to be able to go public with this, and to walk around publicly without any makeup. Why? Because it's my face. Although I would like to say I am super confident and it never gets to me, sometimes it does.”

“Some days people make comments saying ‘what happened to your face?!’ Sometimes if I have a crush on someone I am worried about them seeing me without makeup and worry that they won't think I'm cute.”

“You know what though, I own it. There's not much I can do about it. I can only love myself, and not let my circumstances define my value or self-worth. What is the definition of beautiful anyway?” 

 

 

@highsnobiety #sneakpeak

A photo posted by Winnie (@winnieharlow) on

In 2014 model Winnie Harlow rose to fame when she competed in American’s Next Top Model.  The 21-year-old has since used her position in the public eye to speak about her own experience with vitiligo.

We love how these women are using their own stories to expand the definition of beauty for everyone.

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Prince Harry is well recognised for his charitable efforts, but today the 31-year-old Royal broke new ground when he was streamed taking a HIV test live from Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital in central London.

The Prince's test was broadcast live via Facebook in order to show the public just how easy being checked for HIV actually is and to help reduce the stigma which often surrounds the process.

Before the test began, Harry noted that despite his background just doing the test did make him feel nervous.

He said: “Even being the person I am and knowing the type of people I’m around, I’m still nervous.”

All the test involved was a simple finger prick and the results were almost immediate, but Harry was keen to stress that the hardest part of the HIV screening process is still getting people to take the first step.

He said to the medic: “Once you’ve got people through the door, that’s the hardest bit out of the way.”

After just a minute’s wait, the Prince was shown the result – it was negative.

Despite his good news, Harry eagerly explained to the camera what would happen if someone did receive a positive result.

He said: “If it was [positive] then we would be having a conversation…it is a life-changing moment but it is a series of events that ends up with me having potentially to take one pill a day for the rest of my life.  [And I] can continue to have a partner.”

Harry showed his fun-loving attitude by joking: "So whether you're a man, woman, gay, straight, black, white, whatever – even ginger – why wouldn't you come and have a test?"

He added that in order to normalise HIV testing everyone should get checked, whether they believe they are at risk of having HIV or not.

Well done to Harry for using his status to highlight such an important issue.

Centre images: Getty

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and so we are going to give you the lowdown on how and when you need to check your breasts.

Firstly, it’s important to check your breasts regularly – as in every time you shower.

About once a month you should do a thorough check of your breasts.

Changes to look out for when checking your breasts include:

  • A lump or thickening in the breast or under the armpit
  • Pain in one of the breasts or armpit
  • Puckering or dimpling of the breast skin
  • Pulling in of the nipple
  • Reddness of the breast skin
  • Nipple rash
  • Discharge or bleeding from the nipple
  • Changes in the shape or size of the breasts or nipple
  • A change in the position of the nipple

Cancer.ie notes that 9 out of 10 breast lumps are harmless but if anything is bothering you about your breasts please visit a GP so they can put your mind and ease and do any further investigating that may need to be done. 

Checking regularly for changes in your breasts can catch anything that may be worrying early and is therefore really important in the fight against breast cancer – which is one we all want to win. 

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