Mental Health Awareness Week, May 14th – 20th 2018

May 14th – 20th is Mental Health Awareness Week. The campaign aims to increase public awareness of mental health. Research by Natcen Social Research has shown that 16 million people a year experience a mental health issue and stress can be a factor in this. In this article, we will provide information regarding spotting signs of mental health issues and how you can help yourself.

Why do people experience mental health issues?

One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and in England, one in six people will report experiencing a common mental health problem such as anxiety and depression in any given week. Experiencing a mental health issue can be frightening, upsetting and confusing especially at first and this can be difficult to talk about. People can often ask ‘why me?’ or ‘why has this happened now?’ a life event such as a bereavement, worries about personal finances, or a relationship breakdown are amongst the difficult situations that can trigger symptoms. However, in reality, mental health problems are a common human experience and they can affect people from all walks of life. Many people will know someone who has experienced a mental health issue, when you find a combination of support, self-care and treatment that is right for you, you will feel better.

What are the early signs of a mental health issue?

If you, a family member, colleague or friend does not seem themselves, it can be hard to tell the difference between a bad mood or something more serious. Symptoms can be emotional, mental, physical and behavioural. It is normally not a single change but can be a combination of the following: • Feeling anxious or worried • Feeling depressed or unhappy • Emotional outbursts • Problems sleeping • Weight or appetite changes • Feeling guilty or worthless • Substance abuse • Changes in behaviour or feelings • Feeling quiet or withdrawn If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, then we would urge you to contact Health Assured’s 24/7 helpline to speak to one of our trained counsellors who can help.

How to look after your mental health

It is very important to take care of yourself and make the most out of life. There are several different ways you can look after your own mental health: Talk about your feelings – Being open with your friends and family can help you stay in good mental health and this will help if you are feeling troubled. Keep active – Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help with sleep, your concentration and it can also help you look and feel better. Eat well – Your body and brain need a varied mix of nutrients to stay health and function well. A healthy diet is good for your mental and physical health. Drink sensibly – Heavy drinking is linked to serious health problems and it can have a big impact on your mood. Knowing and staying within your limits will ensure that you do not drink to excess. Do something you are good at – Finding a hobby that you’re good at or simply enjoy will help release endorphins into the brain that will have a positive impact on your mood. Feeling good about yourself boosts your self-esteem. Ask for support – We all need help from time to time and everyone has experienced feeling overwhelmed by our feelings especially when things go wrong. If things are getting too much, ask for support from your friends or family. You can access Health Assured’s confidential helpline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You do not have to feel alone with your feelings.

The impact of stress

This year Mental Health Awareness week is focusing on stress and how to deal with this. Health Assured have written an article specifically on stress that will help you to deal with stress-related issues. You can read more about the impact of stress and how you can take steps to deal with symptoms by visiting: Health Assured - Stress awareness. During the week of the 14th – 20th May the Mental Health Foundation are encouraging people to get together with friends, family or co-workers for a Curry and Chaat. The aim is to get together with people you know and enjoy a delicious curry and raise money for the foundation, you can find out more by visiting: 'Curry and chaat' event. If you are concerned about your mental health or that of another’s, Health Assured are here to help. You can contact us through your bespoke helpline number or email us: counsellingadvice@healthassured.co.uk You can also visit our online portal, which includes 4-week programs, advice articles and webinars to help with your health and wellbeing: www.healthassuredeap.com

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