Mental Health Awareness Week

mental health awareness week

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week from May 18, and here with some sage words and helpful advice is Ama Afrifa-Tchie, the Head of Culture and Wellbeing at Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England.

It’s important to remember we are living in extraordinary times, so it’s not surprising that over half of UK adults are experiencing “high levels” of anxiety at this time.

Boosting mental health is important now more than ever.

We aren’t just “staying at home” or “working from home” ⁠— we are coping with a global pandemic.

mental health awareness week

Picture courtesy of Ama Afrifa-Tchie.

We need to be kind to ourselves; you’re allowed to have up and down days.

A good way to help alleviate the anxiety could be setting an achievable day-to-day structure, such as getting up at the same time or doing just 15-20 minutes of exercise to reduce your stress every other day. This will help provide a sense of satisfaction and add a timeline to your day.

Manage your time spent reading the news and looking at social media. Do what’s right for you, and limit it to once a day if need be.

Over-consuming the news can mean seeing a lot of suffering which may spark feelings of guilt if you compare yourself to others. People are being affected in extraordinary ways but that doesn’t invalidate your own feelings or emotions if you are struggling.

Perhaps try and focus on some of the positive news stories, such as positive action your community is taking to support vulnerable people.

Stay connected

During times of stress, of sadness, it’s really important to stay connected with people and reach out for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Human connection can boost our mood and positive emotions provide a buffer to the stress and anxiety.

If you’re working from home, reach out to your colleagues and ask for help if you need it. Perhaps you could stay in touch by doing some social activities such as a team lunch video hangout, team quizzes, and other online activities.

Switching off at the end of the day is key to ensuring your work life and home life don’t blur into one.

There are a number of simple self-care tips that you can do from home to help you switch off. These include going for a walk, meditating, doing breathing exercises, and eating well ⁠— all of which can be done from almost anywhere.

Now more than ever, you need to look after your body and mind.

If you are still working from home, you could replace your usual commute time with a half an hour self-care session to set you up for the day, or help you wind down.

Self-care can also just be about making time for the things you enjoy, whether that’s watching your favourite television series, connecting with family or friends, doing something creative, or learning a new skill.

For more health advice from “The People’s Friend”, click here.

For more on Mental Health Awareness Week, click here.

Yvonne McKenzie

Yvonne works on the Features team and admits to being nosy, so loves looking after the Between Friends letters and finding out all about our lovely readers. She also looks after our health copy and enjoys writing about inspiring people that help make the articles in the magazine so interesting.