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Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 13th to 19th May each year and aims to tackle the stigma of mental health by helping people understand and prioritise their own mental health, as well as other peoples. For those living with a stoma, it can present unique challenges to a person’s mental well-being. Adjusting to life after stoma surgery involves not only physical changes but also emotional and psychological adjustments. It’s crucial to recognise the impact of these changes and find ways to maintain positive mental health.

Don’t let your stoma define you, remember you are resilient! Whilst it’s not easy at first, with the right help and support, most people manage their stoma as part of their daily hygiene routine. It may take time and practice, but stoma care nurses can help with the adjustments.

Read on for some tips on how to support your mental health:


  • The old proverb “knowledge is power” is so true and can create a sense of personal growth. For an ostomate to understand the reasons behind your stoma surgery, what is involved in the procedure itself and the benefits it brings, can alleviate fears and uncertainties. Your surgeon, or stoma care nurse, support groups and online resources can provide valuable information and support.


  • Talk openly about your feelings with trusted friends, family members, or a mental health professional. Expressing emotions, whether it’s fear, frustration, or sadness, can prevent these feelings from building up and causing distress.


  • Prioritise self-care activities that promote relaxation and reduce stress. This could include meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or engaging in hobbies and activities you enjoy. Or simply by walking, taking the time to think things through whilst looking at nature around you can be grounding.


  • Try to embrace your body and its new form. Coming to terms with how your body has changed now you have a stoma can feel overwhelming. Remember that your worth isn’t defined by physical appearance. Treat yourself with kindness and practice positive affirmations. Be body positive.


  • Change the way you feel about your stoma. Sometimes by remembering your stoma is potentially a life saving piece of equipment which has significantly improved your quality of life, can really help in accepting the new you.


  • Keep lines of communication with your partner open. By talking about your concerns and exploring new ways of intimacy, can really strengthen your relationship. It can also help your partner or loved one in understanding how you feel and what you need.


  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle, with good nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate sleep which are essential for both physical and mental well-being.


  • Have a go at setting realistic goals. Make each step achievable. Celebrate each milestone, no matter how small, to boost your confidence and sense of accomplishment.


  • Connecting with another ostomate who has undergone similar experiences can really help. Support groups, both online and offline, offer a platform to share stories, advice, and emotional support. Knowing you’re not alone in your journey can be immensely comforting.


  • If feelings of anxiety or depression become overwhelming, seek professional help. Speak to your Stoma Care Nurse about your feelings or pay a visit to your GP to talk things through. Counselling or talking therapies are readily available. For many therapies you can actually self-refer online.

Remember that healing, both physically and emotionally, takes time. Be patient with yourself and practice self-compassion. Setbacks are a natural part of the process, and each day is an opportunity for growth.


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