Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity
Mental health musings of an autistic mind- article by Tess Eagle Swan

Mental health musings of an autistic mind- article by Tess Eagle Swan

Mental health musings of an autistic mind – an article by Tess Eagle Swan

Mental health

What does it mean to me? Autistic me.

It is a battle ship that sails on often stormy seas. Sometimes the storms are so ferocious the ship is full of water and feels like sinking. Smashed by waves of overwhelming and meltdown, drowning in misunderstandings, crashing into rocks of bad communication, hurled by winds of rejection, unacceptance and judgment.

Click here to read the full article.

Please click here for details of Tess’s book.

Mental health awareness week – Daniel Docherty

Mental health awareness week – Daniel Docherty

Mental health awareness week – an article by Daniel Docherty

Mental health, a term too often dispersed and spread around nonchalantly in 21st century society. A term utilised manipulatively by marketing companies and social media to lure the public into a false sense of sincerity. A term attributed to the functioning of an enigmatic part of human existence that experts still don’t fully understand.

This then begs the question, what is this complex concept known as mental health? Despite its popularity and elevation to the status of a ‘buzzword,’ it does have a practical application and effect in the real world. Mental health is a state of mind. Good mental health is in essence a state of mind in which balance and order are present and disturbances are kept to a minimum. It is the state in which your mind is healthy.

Just like the health of our physical bodies, good mental health and well-being is vitally important to our existence and quality of life as a whole. If this state of psychological homeostasis is not achieved, it can have detrimental effects on one’s life and potentially devastating outcomes. Almost everyone on this planet experiences adversities and disturbances to their mental state to varying degrees and for differing durations, but most overcome these difficult times in their life. For others, the adversities are chronic and can even result in a more egregious fate.

On a macro scale it has reached the level of a pandemic with nearly every country experiencing heightened numbers of suicides and people availing of social and psychological services. The phenomenon also seems to be getting younger as well. This can in part be explained by a society that breeds the notion of acceptance and awareness without substance and sufficient supports in place.

This can also be explained by environmental changes such as the rise of technology and social media, greater disparities in wealth, pollution, the modern diet, and a transition from a collective society unified by common goals and beliefs to one that has become highly globalised and hyper fixated on individualism. While this has never been perfect, societies now more than ever tend to lack a coherent bond, identity, and inherently genuine support system for those who are suffering in silence from an invisible virus.

From a Psychological perspective, this chronic level of adversity and disturbance to an individual’s mental state is pervasive throughout many neurodevelopmental and other cognitive related conditions such as Autism, Anxiety Disorder, Depression, ADHD, OCD etc. Many people like myself who have conditions like these battle on a daily basis to try and achieve some kind of balance or stability in their cognition, despite often giving off the appearance that they are in a state of mental homeostasis.

With all that said the chance of a good quality of life can seem hopeless for some. A seemingly predetermined life of despair and suffering. Contrary to this line of thinking, it does not have be that way as there are positive changes that can be implemented. For those who are fortunate enough to be in a good state of mental health and genuinely care about others well-being, you can help by raising awareness of the issues and pushing for a better healthcare system.

You can also look out for and try to help people who are close to you that may be struggling, whether it be your family, friends, or neighbours. Despite this we do ultimately live in an individualised society and often times it is only you who can truly improve your own mental health by bringing about positive changes in your own life.

While it is easier said than done here are some things you can do in your own life to instigate a positive change going forward. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Try to make small improvements to your diet, whether that is eating more, eating less, or changing the types of foods you eat to be healthier. Try to reduce time spent on social media platforms such as Instagram, where everyone’s lives can seem perfect. Try to exercise as much as possible, whether that is in the form of joining a sport, lifting weights in the gym, or even just going for a short walk every day, as it can improve your physical and mental state. Another key technique is to try and focus on only the things that are in your control.

All too often we get fixated and worried about events that we cannot do anything about which further plays into our negative thinking patterns. It is about breaking these patterns by taking a hold of things that we can control. For instance, we cannot control what others will do or say, but we can control how we choose to react. Another helpful strategy is to plan out your day as best as you can by creating a daily routine and attempting to stick to it as best as possible.

This should reinforce positive change as we are taking back control of our lives. Try also to find something that you excel at and/or are passionate about and try to set small realistic goals that are attainable in order to improve your skills and build confidence in your life.

You can also use rewards for these goals to help incentivise the process. This will help fill your time, keeping your mind occupied and focused on improving yourself going forward. As you progress you should start to gain confidence in yourself and your abilities resulting in increased self-esteem and self-worth.

In conclusion it is not easy to make these changes to improve your mental state and takes a lot of hard work to change your life for the better, but once you achieve these goals you should be well on your way to obtaining a state of good mental health. Although these methods and strategies can be effective, it is still important to talk to someone you trust or a healthcare professional such as a psychologist. And always remember never give up!

Mental health awareness week – Paul Isaacs

Mental health awareness week – Paul Isaacs

Mental health awareness week – an article by Paul Isaacs 

Mechanisms Of Mental Health

Mental health is something that can and does change over time, the world moves on regardless and so do you.

Sometimes this is not the internal feeling however this can be influenced by many different, nuanced, person centred and often inter linking factors.

  • Core beliefs (warped worldviews vs. connected authentic outlooks) 
  • Self-Reflection (the ability to manage your own selfhood) 
  • Information Processing (the way in which the brain filters information)
  • Nervous System Responses (many mental health conditions mean the nervous system is overused) 
  • Emotional Regulation (the ability to recognise, filter and mange yours and others emotional frequencies)
  • Environment (caregiving, educational & community)
  • Attachment, Friendship & Relationship Dynamics (poor boundaries, emotional incest, projection & manipulative behaviours)

Everything Is Linked 

These factors (in various guises, degrees, and presentations) will have an impact on someone’s idea of “self”, personal expectations vs. connected one’s, perception of danger and threat, how one internalises their own emotions and healthy spaces for expressing and objective reasoning, boundaries, and healthy modelling of friendships and relationships.

Paul Isaacs 2022 

The five step self-holding exercise for self-regulation

The five step self-holding exercise for self-regulation

The five step self-holding exercise for self-regulation of anxiety, PTSD, and mental health 

An article by our Well-being Ambassador Giuliana Wheater and her video!

It is Mental Health Awareness Week …. But mental health issues can be lifelong. If only they were just for a week!!

And what does the word “awareness” even mean?! It is an empty nod for 1 week to what is now the new pandemic for so many people.

It should be renamed Mental Health Education Week, and this is what I want to share this week.

Here in the UK, we have the hugest suicide rate in the world.

Pre Covid the statistics were that if you are autistic or have another type of neurodivergence, you would be 2-6x as likely to pick up a mental health illness than someone who is neurotypical. I wonder what on Earth the figures are now??

Fifty percent of mental health illness is laid down before the age of fourteen and 75% before the age of twenty-four.

So, let us literally take this in hand.

This week’s video shows a 5-step self-holding exercise that absolutely anyone can do to help self-regulate mental health illnesses such as anxiety, PTSD, and depression.

After just 20 seconds of touch, it is now neuroscientifically proven that the neurotransmitter oxytocin is released. This stimulates that feeling of love and nurture as well as opening up our emotional intelligence so we can think clearly, read and process faces and situations, improve our social cognition, have empathy and compassion.

It is also very empowering to self-regulate, to take charge and have the tools to manage the not-so-good days. For those who are touch averse, by putting them in control of the touch stimulates trust and openness. THEY are in charge of that touch and pressure.

You can also use these simple holding techniques on each other on a friends and family basis or get your classrooms of students to do it for themselves if you are a teacher.

If you are a therapist, please feel free to use these simple holding techniques as part of your sessions.

Take care everyone.

Look after and out for each other.

Look after yourselves too so that you are not pouring from an empty cup.

And most of all Be Kind to everyone you meet because we all carry journeys and stories inside us.

See you next week.

Love, Giuliana xx

The five step self-holding exercise for self-regulation
Mental Health Awareness Week – an article by Kieron Lee

Mental Health Awareness Week – an article by Kieron Lee

Mental Health Awareness Week – an article by Kieron Lee

I am writing this article for Anna Kennedy Online, to raise the much-needed awareness for Mental Health, this week, and every week. It is no secret that I have a diagnosis of Autism, ADHD as well as a Mixed Anxiety and Depressive disorder. You can imagine, that managing all of these is extremely difficult.

For years I have struggled with severe mental health issues; in 2018 I attempted suicide by taking an overdose, there have been similar events like this before. At the time I felt empty yet full of emotions that I just could not bear, I would describe autism and emotions like “Superman and Kryptonite;” emotions are my Kryptonite. I often question and have never quite understood the reasoning behind my sometimes-erratic response to events that have occurred throughout my life.

The way I feel is often overwhelming, I have strong feelings that lead to me being very emotional, almost like an empath is how I would describe it. Sometimes the world just gets too much, and I just need to come off it for a bit. 

In times when I feel so low, I have my mother, who has honestly been my biggest supporter, critique, best friend, and rock that constantly holds me to the ground when I lose a sense of gravity. I have a lot of friends and even family that weren’t/are not lucky enough to have the relationship with their mum that I do with mine, and I will forever be so lucky for that.

Weeks when I do not feel so great you best believe I am able to write the best lyrical content, the ability to do that makes me feel so much lighter. I often “meditate” with the piano and a beautiful chord progression which is so soothing for the mind. Also, getting stuck into coursework really helps! But it is honestly, the love for music and the people that I am so lucky to have around me that keeps me strong.

I met the wonderful Anna and team back in 2016 whilst we were working on our superb charity album “Building Bridges”, which was a significant and memorable time in my life. Since then, I have continued to support and work with the charity.

Anna and all the team have played a huge part in shaping the person I have become today, and I could not be more thankful for the opportunities that have been given to me through Anna Kennedy Online, and their amazing work and I feel so proud to be a part of the AKO family. I am aware of the progress and huge difference that I have made.

If I can do it, you can too! Never give up. I am now on top of the world with an amazing new friend group, in the process of finalising my EP ready for release in the Summer (Keep your eyes peeled) and I am ready to start university next year, where I will be working towards achieving my degree in Popular Music. 

I would like to encourage everyone to spread love and positivity in a world that really needs it. Especially right now. I also ask that you try to be the best advocate for mental health that you possibly can be. Be super thankful for your neighbours, thankful for your friends and family. Most importantly be thankful for yourself and know that you have huge value. Try to appreciate the little things in life as much as you can even when you feel like it is impossible. Stay strong. Reach out when you need it. You are not alone. 

For more information on mental health services, please visit:

Mental health awareness week – Mala Thapar

Mental health awareness week – Mala Thapar

Mental health awareness week – an article by Mala Thapar

It is Mental health awareness week 2022 – the theme for this year is “loneliness”. This article is to share concerns with the hope that this will comfort and encourage you to share your story as it could empower and benefit others.

I have been part of Anna Kennedy Online since 2012, recently the role of a culture campaign and communications officer for the charity. In April 2021, I attended an event about racism in SEND hosted by U21. Click here to read this. I spoke about lived-in experiences based upon racism within SEND.

For me, racism was finally on the agenda after the torrid murder of George Floyd. It was shocking witnessing comments from people whom I considered friends from inner circles when trying to have that “difficult conversation”. Subsequently, this led to a very lonely time in ways that I never imagined. Then the racist abuse aimed at the three English players who missed penalty kicks during the world cup was unforgivable.

Concurrently, I was fighting for my son’s educational rights. Thankfully, I had close and supportive friends and expressed my disappointment and shared my change of direction to avoid further offence after being made to feel like an outsider. I began networking with new people in safer spaces, and meeting like-minded people reinforced that I was not alone anymore.

Throughout many years, not much has changed. There have been countless examples of racism in the media, Seni and recently Child Q, which was despicable.

When you are a parent of a disabled child or young adult, you are already facing discriminative barriers; however, when you are from a different background, the discrimination is intolerable.

Parents regularly experience unconscious bias and are accused of being “aggressive”, with no understanding of cultural differences and no interest in learning why this exists among black and brown families. Microaggressions entwined with gaslighting are sadly part of everyday life when they should not be.

“The right support, right place, and right time”

Special Need Jungle published: The casual bias and daily discrimination faced by disabled children and their families from ethnic and marginalised communities. The content is accurate and shared with the DfE before the SEND review publication click here to read this report. The DfE published: “SEND review: right support, right place, right time”. When is the “right support, right place, right time” for families from marginalised communities? Despite factual evidence shared beforehand.

Dr Anna Kennedy OBE has consistently said: “Why should children with Autism be treated like second class citizens,” which is a fact.

My message is: “Why should the global majority of people with Autism be treated like third-class citizens”?

Anna Kennedy Online have created a survey we must hear your views.

Please click here to complete this brief survey and share it with your friends and family.

Mental Health and wellbeing Campaign