Mental Health Awareness Week

The 13th-19th May saw Mental Health Awareness Week, an event which has been running since 2001 to raise the importance of seeking help to achieve good mental health.

The week is supported and promoted by various mental health organisations, such as Mind and The Mental Health Foundation.

The idea is to raise funds to ensure good mental health care when it’s needed.

It’s thought that every year, while 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem, not everyone is getting the support they need.

The NHS are finding it difficult to cope with the demand for mental health services, with over 2 million people on a waiting list. And more and more young people are having issues, the number nearly doubling in the last 5 years or so.

Left unchecked, people can feel increasingly helpless and overwhelmed by any number of reasons that are causing them anxiety in their lives.

Delays in seeking and receiving help makes the situation worse and can spiral to make the sufferer feel they are in a hopeless situation.

There are several coping mechanisms you can try to improve your mental health, such as exercise, or finding an activity that makes you happy, but most importantly just talk to someone about the way you’re feeling. Whether it’s a family member, trusted friend or work colleague, or your GP, talking about it can be a relief in itself.

Try contacting Mind or The Mental Health Foundation, they have excellent advice on their websites and can point you in the right direction for help.

The Mental Health Foundation promote movement as a way of helping. Regular exercise can help improve your mood and mental alertness, give you more energy and makes you feel better about yourself. Self-esteem is very important and if you can improve this by even a few minutes walking on a regular basis then it’s worth doing. It’s easy to do, you don’t need any special equipment and you’ll find that you’ll sleep better. Sleep deprivation can add to the worry you may already have so a bit of exercise is a win-win situation.

If you decide to take part in an exercise class of any sort, there’s a good chance you’ll make friends with others in the class.

Meeting new people can really help with your mood and overall well-being and if you’re enjoying your activity and the new relationships you’re making, you’re spending less time worrying and ultimately your mental health will improve.

It may take an effort on your part to actually get started on an activity but you will reap the benefits.

If you feel you’ve achieved something, give yourself a pat on the back. Allow yourself to be pleased with your achievement, however small, maybe even reward yourself for it.

Group activities are great for you, you’ll be in good company with others who may be going through the same things as you and you can support and encourage each other if needed.

There are many ways to improve your mental health, or prevent it becoming a problem in the first place.

Many people take their health for granted, both physical and mental. That’s while everything’s going well in your life.

But if you think of your body like a car, you need to look after it – keep it topped up with petrol, oil and air in the tyres. You need to have the brakes checked regularly and keep all the lights clean. If you didn’t, you’d grind to a halt, you wouldn’t be able to steer or stop properly, and you wouldn’t be able to see where you’re going.

So, eat a well-balanced diet, incorporating the things you love, drink plenty of water and exercise regularly. You’ll probably sleep better and this makes you feel more ready to take on the day ahead. Speak to your GP if you feel low, lethargic or think that you might be depressed and importantly, make sure you have some joy in your life!

Eating well makes you feel better, as does exercise, but finding a hobby or pastime that you really enjoy can make a huge difference. Seeing your friends, having a laugh and enjoying each other’s company can boost your mood.

Try to find the positives in a situation rather than focus on the negatives. Mix with positive people and you should develop a better outlook. It can be depressing being around negative people, they can bring you down even if you were feeling OK in yourself that day.

By looking after yourself you are less likely to need help from a mental health professional.

If you are already in that place, seek the help you need and try to make some changes to your lifestyle to aid your recovery.

Remember you don’t need to be alone in this, many people are feeling the same so don’t be afraid to reach out to someone.

Have a look at these two websites for advice and help and contact them if you need to.

And obviously, although Mental Health Awareness Week has been and gone, it’s a 52 weeks a year problem, so you can contact any help organisation you like at any time.