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We all have needs of one kind or another – I wonder what need is uppermost in your mind currently?

Our most basic needs are physiological, which means we need food, drink and shelter to carry on living. One look at a homeless person often tells us their most basic needs are not being met – physically, they may not look in good shape. I’m thinking about the possibility that you may be concerned about lack of food or warmth, being able to pay rent or other similar issues, particularly as economic times are hard at the moment. This concern may relate to your own needs or someone else. These most basic needs are fundamental to us being able to live well, and are shown at the bottom of the pyramid of ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ – these needs must be met in order for us to exist and survive. There is some information about places that can help with physical needs at the end of this blog.

The other needs are:
* Self-actualisation
* Esteem
* Love and Belonging
* Safety
With ‘Safety’ being the next most basic, above physical needs like food and drink, and Self-actualisation at the top of the pyramid.

I like to think that safety is about feeling secure, as well as having physical shelter around us. Love and belonging clearly relate to feeling good about ourselves and that we ‘fit in’ around other people – if you have ever felt lonely, you will know how important that can be. Esteem has to do with liking ourselves, and self-acceptance of who we are. Self-actualisation sounds quite technical, but it simply means feeling fulfilled in life, a sense that we are expressing ourselves and fulfilling our potential; using our gifts. For example, if you are creative, using your creative skills in art, crafts or writing, or, if you are primarily a ‘people-person’ reaching out to be with other people; if you are ‘sporty’ engaging in physical activities and so on. We all have different gifts and abilities.

So, then, arguably, the top 4, but definitely the top 3 parts of the pyramid relate to our mental well-being. This shows what an important part of life psychological ‘feeling good’ is, being a crucial part of human existence.

It’s interesting that historically people have often downplayed its importance and focused on physical needs. The reasons for this are complex. However, in society today perception has shifted; we ‘shout out’ the value of mental health awareness, and how important it is to focus on aspects of emotional well-being. That’s why it’s so good that society raises awareness with events like ‘World Mental Health Awareness Day’ – 10th October 2023.

Sources of Help and Further Information: Mental well-being
* World Mental Health Day 2023 – Mental Health UK
* Get help with loneliness – NHS
* Raising low self-esteem – NHS
* Information and support – Mind

Sources of Help and Further Information: Physical needs
* Free Expert Debt Advice – StepChange Debt Charity
* Debt help – CAP UK
* Helping Local People in Crisis – Bedfordshire Foodbank
* Your Local Sharing App – Olio
* Homelessness support – Crisis UK

Rachel Honeyford

I work by providing a safe, confidential space where people can bring their feelings and thoughts and work at their own pace. My aim is to be supportive and compassionate while helping people see aspects of their situation they haven't already considered. I aim to adapt my approach to every unique individual's particular wishes, needs and circumstances. For example, I offer the opportunity to work creatively and/or look at past experiences or how someone thinks and feels in 'the here and now'.

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