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October 2005

Look after your mental health on World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day logo (circle of people holding hands)

Laura Gibson
The Mental Health Foundation

Across the UK, people regularly talk to each other about the best way they found to lose weight or treat a cold, but very few of us actually share tips about how we stay well mentally, how we cope with stress and what keeps us feeling good.

Mental health remains a taboo subject for many, yet is a topic that needs to be seriously addressed. A 25 year old woman today is 3-10 times more likely to be depressed than her grandmother was at the same age and the World Health Organisation estimates that by the year 2020, depression will be second only to heart disease as an international disease and disability burden. Those who experience mental health problems, including stress and anxiety, often feel isolated and alone but this is because of our reluctance to talk about it. They just don't realise how many people have felt the same as them.

The reasons why we don't speak about our mental health are plentiful; people are worried about being physically or verbally abused, losing friends, being discriminated against at work or even losing their job. However, in a survey about friendship carried out by the Mental Health Foundation, more than half the people said that when they had been open about their mental health they had received support and two thirds of their colleagues were for the most part very accepting.

Talking treatments like counselling can sometimes be more effective in treating common mental illnesses like depression than other types of treatment. However, waiting lists for these services can be lengthy which is why it is good to share our feelings with friends and family. It gives us all the chance to talk about our more difficult feelings and get the reassurance we need.

Admitting to how we feel and sharing our ways of coping is just one way of looking after your mental health. There are also other simple things that we can all do to stay mentally well:

Physical activity is a proven way to keep mentally well

But above all, if you think you may need professional support, don't be afraid to go to your local GP and ask for help. Speak to them clearly about how you feel. They will be able to offer you a range of options, including talking treatments.

World Mental Health Day

On World Mental Health Day, the Mental Health Foundation is ecouraging people to speak up and talk about how they are feeling. They are hosting a big conversation on their website where people can share their thoughts and their coping strategies for when they are feeling low. They will also be visiting a variety of London train stations to talk to commuters and find out how they are feeling.

The Mental Health Foundation uses research and practical projects to help people survive, recover from and prevent mental health problems. We work to influence policy, including government at the highest levels. And we use our knowledge to raise awareness and to help tackle the stigma attached to mental illness. We reach millions of people every year through our media work, information booklets and online services.

World Mental Health Day - World Federation for Mental Health logo

World Mental Health Day was established by the World Federation for Mental Health in 1992 and is celebrated all over the world on the 10th of October.

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