Well, it isn’t technically a Manchester event; it’s nationwide. The subject is just as important here as it is anywhere else in the UK, however. So let’s look at what the week is all about and what we can do in Manchester to help combat the effects of mental health.
Founded in 2001, Mental Health Awareness Week is supported by the Mental Health Foundation. Its goal is to help raise the public’s awareness with regards to mental health, and to promote positive mental health in the UK. It’s also designed to raise funds for the Foundation, in order to to achieve those same aims in the longer-term.
The charity further supports mental health research, develops improved services for mental health, and runs campaigns to eradicate the discrimination and stigma related to the subject.
Stressing a theme
Each year, the event features a different theme. This year, the focus is on something that affects most of us at some point in our lives: stress. A recent study surveyed 4,205 adults, the results of which were published in the Aviva Wellbeing report. The findings revealed that 67% of those surveyed experienced stress and 64% suffered from depression.
By combating stress, we can make significant gains in the war on mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, and in some cases, self-harm, and even suicide.
Stress includes both depression and anxiety, and is also linked to such physical health issues as heart disease, digestive problems, insomnia, and problems with the immune system.
Super-actor David isn’t immune, either
Maybe you’ve been affected by mental health issues. Maybe you’ve seen one or more of your friends struggle with stress or depression. One man who has experienced problems in the area of mental health is David Harewood, the ambassador for Mental Health Awareness Week. The Supergirl actor revealed that he suffered a mental breakdown in his twenties, when he was sanctioned. He offered hope to those who are currently suffering.
Harewood told BBC Breakfast: “I recovered to have a fabulous career… I want to stress to people that mental health isn’t some kind of death sentence.”
“Find help… if I hadn’t had support, I’m not sure I’d have pulled through.”
Corrie actress opens up
Manchester celebrities aren’t immune to mental health, either, as we saw recently when Coronation Street actress Samia Longchampion opened up about her battle with anxiety on social media. Samia, who played Maria Connor in the long-running soap, wanted to play her part in creating more conversation around Mental Health Awareness week.
As it’s #mentalhealthawarenessweek I thought I’d post this. I’ve suffered with anxiety since I was 11 (and possibly before that, but that was the first time I saw my doctor about my inability to ‘get a deep breath’). It is something that comes and goes with me, but when it’s there it’s awful and all consuming. I love that the stigma of mental health is finally being broken and people are opening up, talking and realising that you’re not alone.. in fact it is pretty common. I’m not gonna patronise but just wanted to send love out to all people having a daily struggle… #thistooshallpass #gethelp #talk #breathe ❤️🙌🏼
Samia’s post came as Corrie continues its series of storylines relating to mental health, including Aidan’s suicide and David Platt post-rape trauma, as well as Craig’s OCT, and Bethany’s behaviour after her sex ring abuse.
The Manchester soap has received praise for its tackling of mental health issues and for creating vital discussions.
What can you do?
With such a large number of us struggling to meet the demands of the modern world, Mental Health Awareness Week provides us with an opportunity to reflect on what can to do better care for our mental health.
We’ve all felt stress at some point; it’s part of life. But when it’s overwhelming to the point where we feel unable to cope, It can lead to more permanent mental health issues, or make existing ones more chronic.
Think about how you can help bring people together and start talking about mental health. For example, you could organise a wellbeing walk, or even an event where you invite a mental health professional along to deliver a talk on the subject.
If you want to be relieved of the burden of organising, however, you could always join in existing events. At Manchester’s Social Circle, we offer walks every month, enabling you to meet likeminded people and talk about mental health and any other subject that’s close to your heart. By engaging with new people, you are helping to improve your own mental health, including combating the effects of stress. Stress can happen to any of us at any time. If you’re new to Manchester, for example, and you don’t know anyone here, you have no one to lean on, to talk to, and to confide in, it can ultimately lead to a chronic feeling of loneliness. Without having someone to help relieve you of those stressful moments that occur in life, it can only help to make you feel even worse. Meeting new people creates opportunties to get out there and enjoy life and forget about what was stressing you out in the first place.
Stress at work
Mental Health Awareness Week is also a great time to talk to your boss about stress, and even challenge them on what they’re doing to combat it. It’s important to establish a mentally healthy workplace where employees feel both supported and valued.
Social Circle also offers a wellbeing solution to companies in Manchester that are looking to improve employee performance while, at the same time, taking care of their staff’s needs. Making your boss aware of such schemes not only benefits you as the employee, but helps the company you work for fulfil their wellbeing obligations. Mental health is the cause of a number of issues at work, including a decline in performance, and even sickness-related absence.
Mental Health Awareness Week is the perfect occasion for each of us to think about what we can do as individuals in the war on stress and mental health, or for those who are burdened themselves to find support and advice on managing stress in their everyday lives.