10th October 2021
On World Mental Health day we reflect on 'Mental health in an Unequal World'. There is still a great deal of stigma surrounding mental illness and often healthcare funding is reduced at the expense of mental health treatment and support. This has never been more apparent than during the pandemic where crisis services have been unable to cope with increased demand.
Having good mental health is equally important as physical health. It is not uncommon to have times when we feel down, stressed or anxious. Usually these feelings will pass and we are able to bounce back from a setback. However, for some people this isn't as easy and they can be left feeling weighed down for a prolonged period of time. We can all be vulnerable to having mental health problems; through changes in circumstances or at different stages in our lives.
Due to the stigma surrounding mental health people can shy away from talking about their feelings, hiding them from friends and family. It is important to know that speaking about how we feel and acknowledging these emotions is healthy. This is where counselling can be very helpful. Counsellors are able to listen to how you are feeling and help to explore triggers for anxiety and build new strategies for coping. It can help you start conversations with those around you so that you can increase your support network.
Covid 19 pandemic has shown that inequality in health outcomes is still a significant issue. It has affected people in different ways with fears around infection, which might result in death, right through to the economic impact from job insecurity. Families have faced bereavement in isolation, unable to say goodbye to their loved ones and access to the support from their family or community whilst grieving restricted. With an ever changing set of rules and continuing uncertainty it is taking its toll on the mental health of many.
A few questions you might to ask yourself on World Mental Health Day:
How am I doing?
Do I feel overwhelmed more days in the week than not?
Am I distracting myself or keeping busy to avoid thinking?
Am I struggling with motivation to get up and start the day?
Can I concentrate?
Have I felt panic or terror in the last week?
Do I feel sad and unhappy?
If you answer yes to any of these questions it might be time to start your conversation with friends, family or a health professional. It does not mean that you have a mental health problem but you maybe vulnerable to developing one. You may not answer yes to the above questions for yourself, but can you recognise any of them in someone you love. If so open a conversation with them gently and give them space to express how they are feeling. Try to avoid telling them what they need to do and just acknowledge how difficult it must be for them right now. It could be that just getting out of bed each day is exhausting, being given targets they cannot reach could add to their sense of being overwhelmed.
World Mental Health Day website:
NHS self-assessment tool for depression and anxiety:
NHS every mind matters: