Hana, a Gateway Health Trainer

Taking control

“Good health” can mean many things. When you hear of someone seeing a Health Trainer, you might assume they’re receiving help with diet and exercise, but that’s really only a small part of someone’s overall health.

Over the last couple of years, Gateway Health Trainers have worked with more and more people who have mental health issues. For some this is due to a diagnosed condition but for most it’s helping with anxiety, stress and just general feelings of low mood. All of which can, and do, lead to depression.

Helping someone to tackle low self-esteem, or a feeling of being overwhelmed by everyday life, can have a massive impact on their overall health. After all, making long-term changes to your activity levels or food intake are a lot more difficult when you don’t feel completely in control.

Diana’s story

Last year, Diana came to the Health Trainers service. She said:

“I want to lose weight to feel better about myself. I seem to be putting on weight each year.”

Diana was placed with Hana (pictured above), who started to get to know Diana. But Hana didn’t just want to know about Diana’s diet and activity levels. She wanted to know as much as possible about her lifestyle – all the other things that might be causing her to overeat and put on weight. As so often happens, Hana found that Diana had some other issues relating to her mental health that they needed to tackle first.

Hana said, “Diana initially said she wanted advice about comfort eating, but as we talked it through, I found that what she really wanted was to feel more organised. So that’s what we addressed first. Starting to plan her home life better would help her to feel more in control of her life, which in turn would help her eating habits.” You can hear Diana talking about this in her own words in the video, below.

We’ve written before about how looking at the “whole person” and taking into account social, economic and environmental factors saves time for GPs and saves money for the NHS. One of the wonderful things about Health Trainers is that they have the time and flexibility to do this.

Health Trainers meet people in their own home, or their local GP surgery or community centre. They have long appointments, where they get to know the person, building trust and allowing them time to talk.

Because Diana was able to work with Hana over time, unpicking some of the deeper issues, she’s been able to take control. And that means the other lifestyle changes she’s making now – like eating more healthily and becoming more active – are not just achievable, but more likely to be sustainable.

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