Why anxiety is the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2023
I was thrilled to join the Mental Health Foundation earlier this year, having worked in health policy all my life. Many of us have struggled with our mental health in recent years, and it feels like there’s never been a more important time to support and protect our mental well-being.
The Mental Health Foundation’s approach – preventing mental health problems before they happen and supporting everyone to thrive – really resonates with me. And the icing on the cake is being part of Mental Health Awareness Week! I have joined in with Mental Health Awareness Week for many years and am delighted to now be part of making it happen.
This year for Mental Health Awareness Week we are focusing on anxiety. We all feel anxious from time to time. Anxiety is a natural response to the uncertain world around us. For example, in the current cost-of-living crisis, more than a third of adults feel anxious about their financial situation. But it’s important that we recognise and respond when we feel anxious, so that our anxiety doesn’t become overwhelming.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety can affect us physically and mentally. If you are feeling anxious, you might notice your heart rate increasing, headaches, loss of appetite, breathlessness or chest pain. (If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should see a healthcare professional to rule out another physical cause). Anxiety might make you feel tense or nervous, find it hard to relax, feel tearful or have problems sleeping and concentrating. Friends or family might notice you are more irritable than usual, or more withdrawn. Or perhaps you seem fine on the outside but feel panicky inside.
Help is at hand. There are things that we can all do to protect our mental health and manage anxiety.
What works will be different from person to person. Things that might be helpful include being active, getting out in nature, practising breathing techniques, getting support to tackle money worries or eating well. Talking to a friend, or spending time with loved ones, is often a good first step.
How you can cope with anxiety
We’ve looked at the evidence for what works to manage anxiety and brought together our top recommendations.
Taking action to address specific causes of anxiety can also help – for example, contacting a money advisor, discussing workplace stress with your employer, or seeking support if you are experiencing bullying, harassment or discrimination.
If anxiety is severely affecting your everyday life, you should contact your GP who can offer additional support and help. No one should struggle alone.
What can be done to limit the causes of anxiety?
Anxiety isn’t just something we can overcome on our own. So much of what may trigger anxiety is not within our control. This is why, during Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ll also be talking to politicians and decision-makers about what can be done as a nation to support good mental health.
While causes of anxiety are complex, financial worries, social isolation, social pressures and discrimination can all play a part. And because of this, local and national politicians should be looking at measures such as income support to reduce financial stress, provision of good quality housing, strong legislation to prevent bullying, harassment and discrimination, and ensuring communities are equipped with the services and facilities we need to live well and help protect everyone’s mental health.
Get involved with Mental Health Awareness Week 2023
I encourage everyone to get involved in Mental Health Awareness Week this year. Visit our website to find our resources, including a social media guide to help you join in the conversation #ToHelpMyAnxiety.
Look out for our blogs, films, and other content during the week and please do join in with our awareness-raising event, Wear it Green Day. We’re looking forward to hearing your stories and what’s worked for you in managing anxiety.
Thank you to all our sponsors who are generously supporting this year’s campaign. If your organisation is interested in getting involved, please get in touch. Together we will drive change so that all of us can live mentally healthier lives.
Source: Mental Health Foundation
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