Mental Health Awareness Week will be taking place from the 16th - 22nd May 2016. This year, the theme is relationships and their impact on our wellbeing.
Experts and commentators strongly believe that relationships with loved ones are closely linked to mental health. It is because of this Mental Health Awareness Week wants to encourage people to place a greater emphasis on the quality of their relationships.
It is difficult to flourish as an individual or community without forming bonds with friends, families and colleagues. Relationships have been found to be as vital to our wellbeing as other lifestyle factors including a good diet, exercising and quitting smoking. Good relationships help us to live longer and happier lives with fewer mental health problems. The aim of Mental Health Awareness Week 2016 is to get people to put some time aside to nurture important relationships, but with school or work commitments finding that extra time can be daunting.
The Mental Health Foundation believes that relationships are so important to our mental health that they’re working hard to lobby national governments, public bodies and employers to promote good relationships and tackle the barriers which can prevent people from forming them. From having an unhealthy work-life balance, falling victim to bullying or being in an unhealthy relationship, these all have a derogatory effect on a person’s ability to form close bonds with others.
So the Mental Health Foundation is setting the public a challenge: make the effort to prioritise their relationships with their loved ones. Think about how much time can be actively dedicated to building and maintaining good relationships and invest more in being there for friends, family and colleagues.
As well as being more mindful of this, there are a number of other ways to show support for Mental Health Awareness Week.
Hold an event – bringing people together is a great way to get people talking about mental health. From hosting a wellbeing talk to setting up a stand in a local hospital or community centre, there are lots of great ways to raise awareness.
Attend an event – for those who would prefer to attend an event rather than host one, use this map to find all the events taking place in your area throughout the week.
Social media – social media is a fantastic way of spreading the word and this year there will be a number of campaigns taking place across the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Use the hashtag #MHAW16 to join in the debate.
How you can look after your mental health
Awareness of mental health is the first step toward looking after it. There are also a number of simple things that can be practiced every day to help:
• Talk about feelings – when feeling stressed, anxious or depressed, it can really help to talk to someone about it, regardless of whether it’s a friend or a professional
• Keep active – exercise has been proven to be very beneficial to mental health, so try to do something active at least three times a week
• Eat well – a good diet is linked to better mental health
• Drink sensibly – as tempting as it can be to drink more alcohol when feeling stressed or down in the dumps, try to avoid doing so. Alcohol is a depressant and will make a person feel worse in the long-run, and could lead to unhealthy habits
• Keep in touch with friends and family regularly
• Ask for help when it’s needed
• Take a break – don’t be afraid to take some time out. Maybe book a holiday, enrol in a class, go to the gym or meet friends for dinner
• Care for others – helping others can make a person feel good and fulfilled. Consider doing some volunteer work or visiting an elderly relative; help a friend who has just had a baby with some things around the house, or offer to help a colleague with their heavy workload
• Do something you’re good at – focusing on what you’re good at means you will achieve something which can be a huge confidence boost
• Accept yourself – avoid comparisons with others and learn to accept who you are, it will lead to greater happiness.
If you think that you or someone you know could be struggling with a mental health problem, please feel free to contact Life Works in the strictest of confidence and we will be more than happy to help.