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May 9th, 2021

Why do we have Mental Health Awareness Week?

By Dan Whale (HelloSelf)

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Today marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week, an event which occurs each year in the UK having been first created in 2001. Over the next few days, we’ll be posting content relating to how mental health can be improved.

Whilst we are strong believers in raising mental health awareness at all times of the year, Mental Health Awareness Week offers a dedicated period for everyone to talk about mental health. But why is it important? Why can we not leave mental health related discussions to those that are experiencing challenges?

For us this is a two part answer: we do this because there is a clear problem, and we do this because there is a clear solution.

Problem

Collective mental health has been worsening in the past decade and some doctors and scientists have said that the pandemic has put us at the point of crisis. Mental health challenges have a devastating effect on individuals and families on a daily basis.

Starting with the most upsetting statistic, in 2019 18 people in the UK took their own life every day - 5691 in total. We do not know how much support each of those people received, but we do know that mental health intervention has been hugely successful in preventing suicidal thoughts and tendencies, with many who have previously attempted suicide going on to live rich and fulfilling lives.

Whilst saving lives is hugely important in raising mental health awareness, it should definitely not be seen as its only function. You may not be having suicidal thoughts, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need help.

Everyone has the right to a life in which they feel like their best Self. None of us are destined to live unhappily. Some will find changing their mental health easier than others, but everyone is capable of improvement.

Around 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience mental or neurological disorders at some point in their life according to the NHS. It is of vital importance that these people are made aware that they are not alone in what they’re going through and that things can get better.

Solution

This brings us to the second part of why Mental Health Awareness Week is so important: to give people helpful information on how mental health can be improved.

Being an online therapy clinic we are of course big advocates of therapy and want people to have as clear an impression as possible of what therapy can look like. This is why we have frequently released blogs (1, 2, 3, 4) about different types of therapy and videos where our therapists discuss what therapy entails.

However, therapy isn’t the only solution. For some talking to a friend or family member will make the world of difference. Others might find answers in reading certain materials or practising new skills such as mindfulness or meditation.

The more we make this information available to people, and raise awareness of it, the more likely it is that people will learn what works for them. Changes in our mental health rarely come through single ‘lightbulb moments’ as we see on TV, but through thinking and talking about how we feel and making decisions based on scientific evidence. Instead of hoping for a ‘eureka’ experience, we work towards becoming 1% better every day - something all of us are capable of.

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If you want to support your friends’ mental health but find it awkward to bring this kind of thing up, Mental Health Awareness Week gives you the perfect opportunity. If you have social plans this week, why not say to your friends ‘I was reading earlier it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, how’s yours? Do you do anything to maintain it?’. Sometimes people are desperate to just be asked.

Of course, if it’s your own mental health that you’re more concerned about and you think therapy may be a good option for you, talk to us at hello@helloself.com and we can talk you through how our service works.

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