World Mental Health Day

Take action this World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day takes place on 10th October 2023. Founded by the World Federation for Mental Health, this year will be the 75th anniversary of the campaign.

The theme for 2023 is ‘Mental health is a universal human right’ and event supporters including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Mental Health Foundation want to bring people and communities together to improve knowledge, raise awareness and drive actions that promote and protect mental health.

Organisers want to highlight that everyone has the right to the highest attainable standard of mental health. This includes being protected from mental health risks and having access to quality mental health care.

In the UK, mental health charity Mind also wants to highlight the importance of getting the right support if you need it by inspiring individuals to act. This year, Mind are encouraging individuals to check in on their friends and family, seek support for themselves, donate, fundraise and pledge their support for a variety of petitions that aim to reform the Mental Health Act.

Mental health in the UK

In England alone, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in a given year, and 1 in 6 say they experience a common mental health problem such as depression or anxiety in any given week.

Mind has also revealed that only 1 in 3 adults with a common mental health problem are currently getting treatment, despite the increasing number of people reporting mental health problems. Since 2018, suicide numbers in the UK have also been increasing.

Unfortunately, global statistics show that many people living with mental health conditions are isolated and discriminated against, and do not have access to the care they need.

Mental health and substance misuse

Whatever the cause, mental health conditions can be hugely challenging. One serious consequence is that many people turn to using drugs and/or alcohol as a coping mechanism.

According to a report by the Office for Health Improvement & Disparities, nearly two-thirds (63%) of people in treatment for substance misuse also reported having a mental health treatment need, demonstrating a clear correlation between the two issues.

Although drinking alcohol or taking recreational drugs might feel like the right decision when you’re struggling with mental health, many substances can make the situation worse. Furthermore, certain substances can actually contribute to a person developing a mental health problem when they may not have had one before.

Every person responds to drugs differently, and there are many factors that contribute to your experience of using drugs (including alcohol), such as where you are when you take them, how much you consume, and your mental state at the time.

Whatever a person’s reasons for taking drugs or drinking alcohol to excess, the fact remains that a dependence on drugs or alcohol can negatively impact a person’s day-to-day life in many ways. This includes everything from creating financial issues and debt to the impact on personal relationships, all of which can make a mental health condition even worse.

What are the signs that someone is abusing alcohol or drugs?

It’s important to remember that just because you suspect a person is abusing alcohol or drugs, it does not necessarily mean that they are.

Some of the signs and symptoms of drug or alcohol abuse can also indicate that they may be struggling with their mental health or an underlying medical condition.

Whatever the real cause, if you have suspicions that a family member, friend, or colleague may be struggling with substance abuse, it’s important to approach the conversation from a position of concern, and not to be accusatory or judgemental.

Here are some of the signs you can look out for if you suspect that someone you know may be abusing drugs:

  • Slurred speech
  • Persistent itching in one area of the body
  • Weight changes
  • Lack of interest in appearance or personal grooming
  • Mood swings
  • Reclusive behaviour
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or social events
  • Erratic or impulsive behaviour

And here are some of the signs to watch out for if you are worried that someone you know is struggling with alcohol dependency:

  • Prioritising drinking above all else, even when it is having a detrimental impact on their daily life
  • Lack of concentration
  • Reduced productivity, including at work
  • Drinking at all times of the day such as the morning or lunchtime
  • Behavioural changes such as irritability, mood swings or uncharacteristically aggressive behaviour
  • Memory loss because of drinking
  • Risk taking, such as driving a car while over the limit
  • Weight changes

Drug and alcohol testing you can trust

Whether you suspect a friend or loved one of drug or alcohol misuse, or simply need a test for other personal reasons, AlphaBiolabs can help.

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