Mental Health Awareness Week: Coping with Anxiety

by Savannah Westeinde

15 May 2023

Mental health is an important thing to check in on. We all know someone who struggles with their mental health (whether you know they do or not). Many of us have our own mental health struggles as well. Especially with the last few years living in a pandemic, many people are experiencing anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. So this week is to raise awareness, remind people they are not alone in their struggles, and make them aware of the resources available. 

Mental Health in the UK 

   According to a study done by Mind, 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems each year in the UK. Their study done in 2017 found that people are having a harder time coping with mental health. This was shown through the prevalence of self harm and suicide. This study was done before the pandemic, so it would be interesting to see how those figures may have changed with the added stress. 

The most common mental health disorders are anxiety and depression. Approximately 6 in every 100 people have a generalised anxiety disorder. 3.3 in every 100 people struggle with depression, and 4.4 in every 100 people struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  There are many other kinds of mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. Also, It is important to educate ourselves on the different kinds of mental health problems that people struggle with. Reducing the stigma surrounding mental health makes it easier for people to ask for help. 

According to that same survey, 20.6 in 100 people have had suicidal thoughts in their lifetime. Furthermore 7.3 in 100 have self harmed. 

This year’s mental health week theme is focused on Anxiety. So let’s learn a little bit about what anxiety is and how to cope with it. While the rest of this article will focus on anxiety, remember that mental health struggles of all kinds are normal.

Anxiety: 

Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in the UK. There is a difference between feeling anxious in stressful situations, and having an anxiety disorder. Having an anxiety disorder means feeling anxious the majority or all of the time. It looks different in every person, but some symptoms include: restlessness, fatigue, trouble sleeping, sweating, hyperventilating etc. Some examples of anxiety disorders are: social anxiety, separation anxiety, and general anxiety. If you feel like you are anxious most of the time or that it is affecting your life, reach out to your doctor. 

Why mental health awareness week? 

The Mental Health Foundation initiated Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK 22 years ago. Last year’s theme was loneliness, fitting for the isolation that came along with the pandemic. This year from the 15th-24th of may, the focus is on raising awareness about anxiety. This means drawing attention to how it can be managed. Moreover, it means advocating for change, from the government and society. Alleviating the pressures of mental health is a collective movement of normalising mental health struggles, making treatment accessible, and reducing stressors. 

So if you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, here are some tools to help cope. Keep in mind, everybody’s minds and bodies are different so what works for someone may not work for you. Also, there is a big range in the severity of anxiety, make sure to talk to your doctor and/or therapist to get advice on what is best for you. These tools are in no way a cure, but I find that they often help me calm down when things start to get too much. 

Tools to cope with anxiety: 

  • Talk to someone:

Sometimes venting to a friend or family member  about whatever it is that’s stressing you out is a great way to lift some weight from your chest. When I get in my head about things I find that saying my thoughts out loud helps me contextualize whether they are useful, or even true. It can also help you feel less alone as chances are your friends and family may have similar thoughts. Talking to a therapist is also a great way to help make sense of what is going on in your head.  

  • Make time for yourself:

It’s easy to get stressed about work, school, family, friends, and forget to take some time to focus on yourself. This can look a little different for everyone, but choosing one thing to do for yourself everyday, or even once a week if every day is unrealistic, it can help you feel more relaxed. If you’re one of those people that just goes down the rabbit hole thinking “it’s me I’m the problem it’s me” take some time to clear your head. This could be taking a walk, stretching, going for a drive, doing some breathing exercises, or taking a bath. Just something that makes your body feel good and that allows you to be present with yourself. 

  • Write:

Putting your thoughts to paper is a great way to contextualize your feelings, or even just keep track of how they change over time. 

  • Medication:

Depending on the severity of anxiety, you might need to go on medication to help take the edge off. You can talk to your doctor about whether you need medication and what kind is best for you. Moreover, taking medication alongside some of the other tools mentioned above can be a good way to cope with anxiety. 

  •  Don’t beat yourself up:

Lastly, whatever it is you are feeling, you are not alone. If you tell yourself that you are not normal or criticize yourself for being unable to complete tasks, it will only exacerbate the situation. Take it easy on yourself and remember you are trying your best. Mental health awareness week is all about normalizing mental health struggles. 

How to get involved 

Donate: We have a lot of charities at Givey that focus on raising awareness for mental health struggles, and making treatment more accessible. Here are a few that you can donate to: 

The Ollie Foundation: https://www.givey.com/theolliefound

Youth Concern: https://www.givey.com/youthconcern

You can also do some research on charities and organizations that work to support people with mental health struggles in your community.

Furthermore, check out the Mental Health Foundation awareness week page. They have plenty of ways to get involved throughout the week. There is a wear it green day an even an opportunity to go skydiving to raise money for mental health week!

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