Recognising Mental Health Awareness Week

Recognising Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place in the UK from 15-21 May 2023.

It’s a national event organised by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) and has been running since 2001.

Designed to tackle the stigma associated with mental health, MHF wants to help people understand and prioritise their own mental health, while providing information, care, and support to those who need it.

The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is anxiety – encouraging people’s awareness and understanding of anxiety as well as its causes. The Mental Health Foundation is also working on initiatives to ensure that the government prioritises mental health services across the UK.

Understanding anxiety

It is completely normal to feel anxious. In fact, in 2022/23, an average of 37% of women and 29% of men reported high levels of anxiety. 1 in 3 adults are also expected to have an anxiety attack at least once in their life.

Anxiety can arise for a number of reasons. It can be a result of job pressure, relationships, or big life events. A recent study found that one of the most common reasons individuals experience feelings of anxiety is due to personal finances. Currently, the cost of living crisis is having a huge impact on anxiety levels in the UK.

What to look out for

It’s important to remember that anxiety can present several symptoms, and the cause of anxiety can vary from person to person. Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Feeling sick and lightheaded
  • Being unable to sit still
  • Pins and needles
  • Racing heart and faster breathing
  • Sweating and hot flushes
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Having a sense of fear or dread

While a common emotion, anxiety can occasionally spiral and lead to more serious mental health concerns. Latest figures reveal that a quarter of UK adults say they have felt so anxious that it stopped them from doing things they wanted to do some or all of the time.

Using drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism for anxiety

Whatever the cause, anxiety has an intense effect on people’s mental and physical health.

One serious consequence is that some people may turn to using drugs and/or alcohol as a coping mechanism.

If this develops into substance misuse, it can soon take a toll on various aspects of the individual’s life, including their relationships, finances, and career.

By spotting early signs of anxiety, and checking in on friends, family members and employees, we as a society can help reduce the risks associated with anxiety.

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