• Nikki

Mental health focus: Facing adversity, fear and uncertainy

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

Since the pandemic, restrictions meant that we had to stop working with our groups. As has been the case with many people, the mental health of the young people and volunteers connected to us has suffered. To try to help, we created a project called ‘Talks to Elevate and Inspire’ to engage the young people and volunteers through weekly video talks around the themes of resilience, confidence, mindset and dealing with failure (the main themes of our rock climbing programme).

We have learned a huge amount over the last months and hope that some of these takeaways are useful for you, too.

Jamie Andrew, quadruple amputee, climber

Jamie is a quadruple amputee, meaning he has no hands and no feet, but has climbed some amazing mountains around the world like the Matterhorn and Kilimanjaro. Jamie’s story about resilience and overcoming adversity is one of the most gripping you’ll hear.

Jamie’s techniques for dealing with adversity include:

  • Finding positives out of negatives: It's hard to imagine you could find positives from losing both your hands and feet, but jamie did. Jamie found that he didn’t get freezing hands and feet anymore when he was cold weather walking and ice climbing and found it gave him a positive boost! It also gives you insight into Jamie’s slightly dark sense of humour when dealing with adversity!

  • Setting a small challenge everyday: Jamie set himself a challenge everyday, however small it seemed, but it gave him something to focus on and get a sense of achievement. These challenges ranged from brushing his teeth and getting dressed on his own, to skiing and snowboarding.

  • It's okay to be not okay: Jamie described how he had to pass through negative emotions into more positive feelings, and even saw that experience as constructive - as an achievement. He also got through those difficult times with the support of family and friends, being there but giving him space, "You have to go through the dark emotions of guilt and denial", but he knew people were there to support him, without necessarily having to help him.

  • Humour: Black military humour helped Jamie immensely, with his mates suggesting things like, "they go to the pub and get legless"!