10th October is World Mental Health Day – a global recognition day aimed at raising awareness of mental health issues, offering education and support, and encouraging us to talk more openly about our mental health. Although mental health issues can present themselves on any day of the year, this is a day when you can show your support to others and remind yourself to take care of your own mental wellbeing too.
Mental health statistics
Mental health conditions come in all shapes and sizes and they can affect anyone, including men and women, young and old, rich and poor. They are impartial and unbiased, affecting 1 in 4 people in the UK each year according to MIND. None of us are immune from mental health issues, which means that it is highly likely that you, one of your friends, or one of your family members could be affected by a mental health condition that you may or may not be aware of. Therefore, understanding mental wellbeing is more important than ever before.
There’s a wide variety of mental health issues ranging from anxiety, phobias, addiction and depression, to OCD, eating disorders, post-natal depression and schizophrenia. These issues are determined by numerous biological, psychological, socio-economic and environmental factors, and they can strike at any time. We can be affected at any stage of life; however, it is apparent that most issues develop during childhood or our early adult years. In fact, an estimated 20% of the world’s adolescents and children have mental health disorders (WHO) and up to three-quarters of problems are established by the age of 24 (BBC).
For this reason, education is crucial in helping to break down any stigma that still exists around mental health conditions. We can start by normalising mental health, talking about our experiences on World Mental Health Day and sharing our coping strategies to promote positive mental wellbeing. Read on to hear our top tips for maintaining good mental wellbeing…
Advice for looking after your mental wellbeing
There are many tips and tricks available for maintaining and promoting good mental wellbeing. With 1 in 6 people reporting that they have experienced a common mental health problem (like anxiety or depression) in any given week (MIND), finding everyday ways to manage stressors and take care of your mental wellbeing is paramount.
It is important to remember that as individuals, what works for one of us may not be helpful for another, so you need to find the best methods for your unique circumstances. Here are a few of our favourite tips to get you started:
- Exercise regularly – did you know that exercise releases endorphins which are also known as happy hormones? This means that even just a short brisk walk on your lunch break can clear your mind, refocus your thoughts and make you feel more positive if you’re having a bad day
- Spend time outdoors – enjoying some fresh air and sunlight every day can be a great mood-booster. Not only do you obtain vital vitamin D from the sun, but spending time in nature has also been shown to have a positive impact on our health and mental wellbeing
- Socialise with friends – spending time with family and friends prevents loneliness and gives you a chance to share your thoughts and feelings. If you’re feeling low, it often helps to talk to someone you trust, and your loved ones can give you a great confidence boost too
- Practice mindfulness – mindfulness is the technique of focusing on the here and now by concentrating on the present moment. It is a relaxing and helpful way of gaining perspective by looking at the outside world, while also recognising and accepting your internal feelings
- Get plenty of sleep – being tired can have a negative impact on your mental wellbeing, making you feel short-tempered and sensitive. Many mental health issues also make us feel more tired than usual, so it’s important to rest and get at least 6-8 hours’ sleep each night
- Try breathing techniques – if you find yourself in a situation where you feel anxious, emotional or stressed, breathing techniques can be an effective way of helping you to relax and dispel negative feelings by simply focusing on the act of inhaling and exhaling deeply
- Take a yoga class – yoga and Pilates are both forms of exercise that take a mindful approach and incorporate beneficial breathing techniques with stretching core muscles… so there’s no wonder they are both highly recommended for maintaining good mental wellbeing!
- Do something creative – many people find that colouring, drawing, painting, dancing, baking and music can help to express emotions. Doing something creative also engages different parts of your brain and helps you focus your attention on something productive and positive
Support is available
Nobody is immune to mental health issues and everyone’s experience is different and unique, but you are never alone in dealing with it. Read some real-life personal stories and experiences of mental health at Time to Change, to hear how others are affected by mental health issues and how they have learnt to cope.
Even if you’re doing everything you can to promote and maintain good mental health, sometimes we still need a little support along the way. So, don’t forget, if you or someone you know is struggling with mental wellbeing, there are lots of places you can turn to for support, advice, information or a friendly ear:
- Talk to someone you trust
- Speak to your GP
- Contact to the Samaritans
- Text the crisis helpline
- Check out the MIND website
- Visit the Mental Health Foundation website