Anxiety and Depression are the Most Common Mental Disorders in Britain
We all know what it is like to feel anxious or down about something. It’s human to experience a spectrum of emotions and moods. You might feel low for a few days following an illness, or for a number of months because you hate how things are going on at your work.
These sorts of feelings are natural and normal.There is:
- grief when you are bereaved
- loss when you have become redundant
- loneliness when you are first divorced
- anxiety before exams
But you need to address the issue if you’re waking up every day feeling anxious, depressed and unhappy. The feelings won’t shift and you can’t see your way ahead. Your mental health negatively impacts you in your daily life.
Our ‘mental health’ is an objective description of what is a very personal, individual experience. We go about our lives within our own world – the mental space inside our minds is utterly unique to each of us.
We don’t necessarily have any way of knowing if we are really thinking like other people. Maybe someone says something that we identify with, or we laugh at something a comedian has pointed out on TV because we recognise it in our own lives. Perhaps a piece of music or poetry seems to express exactly how we feel.
It’s incredible that we go through our days using language to communicate and yet we say so little about how we’re really feeling. We portray ourselves as we think the world wants to see us. Sometimes we might have several guises – a different persona at home to the one we have at work.
Perhaps this is why communication can be so tricky. We second-guess what’s expected of us, we don’t always want to stand out from the crowd too much, we want to be accepted.
I looked up ‘Mental Health Act’ on the internet and it very quickly began looking scary. There were words like ‘mental disorder’, ‘assessment orders’, ‘holding powers’, ‘consent to treatment’ and ‘electro-convulsive therapy’. In the early 1800s words like ‘madhouses’ and ‘lunatics’ were deemed normal.
It’s no wonder that there is so much stigma about the term ‘mental health awareness’. ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ is a brilliant film, yet still seems to represent what many of us fear the mental health system is like. Organisations like The Mental Health Foundation and Mind for better mental health are making the issues around mental health feel more normal, ordinary and accessible. And this year, 2017, members of the Royal Family have become involved in highlighting this issue with Heads Together.
The Mental Health Foundation is involved in Mental Health Awareness Week each May
They highlight many areas of mental health, including:
- Combatting isolation in sheltered/care housing
- Young people dealing with long-term physical conditions
- Dementia – a variety of projects
- Quality of life for carers
- Positive mental health at work
- Young parents
Mental Health Awareness is Relevant to Us All!
There are a huge array of mental health problems, including Seasonal Affective Disorder, Sleep problems, Suicidal feelings, Phobias, Schizophrenia, OCD, Eating problems, Bipolar disorder, Dementia, Drugs, Anxiety & Panic Attacks and Depression.
More people are now seeking help when they realise that anxiety or depression have become too big for them to handle alone. In past years the Mental Health Foundation has highlighted the benefits of mindfulness for mental health. This year, 2017, their theme is ‘Are you Surviving or Thriving?’
It’s so important when public figures speak out about their experiences. When you share what you have gone through, and how you have managed to cope, you open up the whole thing. This encourages others to identify and seek help. Whether it’s through going for some counselling or learning about mindfulness, there are ways of getting yourself back on track.
For me, mindfulness is a daily life-skill. In addition to dealing with something like depression – it gives you the tools to look within and develop your self-awareness. Through this, you can learn to live life more fully and meaningfully. No-one can fail to benefit from that!
Mental Health Awareness at Work
So many people are now experiencing increasing levels of stress to an uncomfortable level. There is a mix involved here of the expectations we all have on ourselves and the ever-increasing demands of the workplace. You may be familiar with this yourself. Then there are all the demands of family life, finances and personal responsibilities.
In 2014 I attended an international conference for Mindfulness in the Workplace. The tools and approaches which you learn through mindfulness help increase positive mental health and emotional resilience, all relevant in whatever work you do. We’re not really taught these life-skills at school, so where do we learn to manage our mental health and wellbeing? Life itself is a teacher, but for more support, strategies and even a way of life, I firmly believe that mindfulness is worth learning and implementing in your life!
How do you manage your mental wellbeing? You may not want to share your thoughts below, but do pass on these details if you know someone who’d find it helpful to learn mindfulness. It’s a great way to add to skills you might already implement – like healthy eating, exercise and enjoying family life and friendships.
Blog post updated for Mental Health Awareness Week 8-14 May 2017
Mental Health Links:
Heads Together – Initiative for mental wellbeing supported by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry
The NHS, Mindfulness and mental wellbeing
The Mental Health Foundation – Mental Health Awareness Week
Mind for better mental health