Week commencing 8th May marked the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week. In the UK, the most common issues are depression and anxiety; it is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week have experienced some form of mental health problem.

This year, the Mental Health Foundation are looking at why so many people have poor mental health with the question of “Surviving or Thriving?”. This year, only 13% of those questioned [2,290] believed they had ‘good’ mental health. Causes of people’s mental health issues range from work, family life, money and genetically inherited.

Depression is the most common mental health problem worldwide. Depression is a mood disorder that causes severe symptoms that affect the way a person thinks and feels and can make it difficult to tackle daily activities such as sleeping and eating.

Depression is often linked to suicide/suicidal thoughts – suicide is the leading cause of death in young people between the ages of 20 and 34. In addition to this, 75% of suicides that take place are men; this is because they are less likely to ask for help than women. There were 6,708 suicides across the UK and Ireland in 2013.

An anxiety disorder is when someone has a constant feeling of fear/dread and continuously worry about things. Someone may get anxious about situations most other people would not worry about. Anxiety disorders can spiral and get worse over time. There are several different forms of anxiety such as generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. This affects 8.2 million people in the UK.mental-1389919_1280

Bipolar disease is also known as manic-depressive illness. It is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts of mood, energy, activity levels and makes it difficult to fulfill day-to-day tasks. This is the fourth most common mental health issue worldwide.

Schizophrenia is another form of mental health illness. This is a chronic and severe mental health issue that causes people to lose touch with reality therefore affecting the way they think, act and feel. Even though schizophrenia is not as common as other mental health disorders, the symptoms can be extremely crippling. These symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, and reduced speaking. At any one time, around 280,000 are being treated for schizophrenia by the NHS.

With this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme being “Surviving or Thriving?” the Mental Health Foundation wish to tackle the assumption that those who suffer with a mental health disorder have to suffer ongoing stress to keep their lives on track – simply ‘surviving’.

This years findings concluded that the UK’s good mental health state is ‘disturbingly low’. Research has shown that over a quarter of participants had experienced a panic attack and 4 in 10 people said they experienced depression. Those with low household income were of those most vulnerable to mental health issues.

The Mental Health Foundation says: “Although we have made great strides in the health of our bodies and our life expectancy, we now need to achieve the same for the good health of our minds.” To see how your mental health is, click here to do a test on the Mental Health Foundation’s website.

If you feel like you’re struggling with a mental health illness or stress related issue, visit Manchester Mind’s website or Mental Health Foundation’s website for support and guidance on what steps to take to improve your mental health. In addition to this, if you’re really struggling, go visit your GP.

By @NiamhShackleton

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