With everything that’s going on in the world this year, poor mental health is high on the agenda of health issues people are facing. Isolation, uncertainty and required lifestyle changes are adding to normal levels of stress and thus potentially affecting our mood and emotional health.
As we move further into winter, feelings of loneliness and sadness can be further exacerbated by a lack of daylight and less opportunity to get out and about.
In this post, we explain a little more about mental health and its prevalence in the UK, and identify some key actions that might help to alleviate these feelings.
What is mental health?
Mental health is crucial for our wellbeing, as having good mental health allows us to thrive rather than survive our daily lives. It will change throughout our lives, depending upon our personal experiences and is also affected by our physical health.
Experiencing feelings of depression when losing a loved one or feelings of anxiety and stress before examinations are both normal reactions to stressful and sad events. Life is not meant to be happy all the time and we all experience these feelings, but they should pass with time and this ability to ‘bounce back’ and overcome life’s ups and downs is what characterises good mental health.
Mental health is further defined as:
- the ability to learn, feel, express and manage a range of positive and negative emotions
- the ability to form and maintain good relationships with others
- the ability to cope with and manage change and uncertainty
The ability to manage change is key to maintaining positive mental health – we all face daily challenges and these challenges are likely to change on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis.
What is poor mental health?
Traditionally mental health problems were divided into ‘neurotic’ or ‘psychotic’ categories of symptoms. Neurotic symptoms include extreme forms of depression, anxiety or panic. More recently, this group of symptoms has been reclassified into ‘common mental health problems’, as they are just that – common.
Psychotic symptoms present themselves as hallucinations, hearing voices or smelling and feeling things nobody else can. Psychotic symptoms alter a person’s grasp of reality.
How many people are affected by poor mental health in the UK?
The following UK statistics show the prevalence of mental health issues and reiterate the problems that children and young people have in this area:
- One in six people have experienced a common mental health problem in the last week
- Anxiety and depression are the most common problems with one in 10 suffering at any one time
- 70 million workdays are lost to mental health issues in the UK each year
- One in 10 school children have a diagnosable mental health problem
- Half of the mental health problems occur by 14 years of age
- 75% of mental health problems occur by 18 years of age
What can we do to help support those struggling with their mental and emotional health?
Talk – the ability to share your thoughts and feelings may be helpful in reducing the impact of everyday stressors on our mental health, as it helps to release the pressure as it arises. This may help to prevent a build up of unwanted thoughts and feelings and potentially inhibit the onset of long-term anxiety disorders and depression.
Eat well – we all need fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, oily fish and plenty of water to support our health both physically and mentally. A broad spectrum of colour and a focus on wholefoods will encourage a nutrient-dense diet that feeds your body and mind. Supplementing our diet with relevant nutrients may also help to support brain health, mood and wellbeing.
Exercise – it’s well established that regular exercise helps to reduce anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Exercising in groups may provide further benefit as social interaction has been shown to support good mental health.
Get outside – it’s cold here in the UK at this time of year and is also very likely to be raining. Despite this, getting outside for an hour or more each day, particularly in the daylight hours can help us to feel more positive and energetic.
Take up a hobby – spending time doing something you enjoy may help to increase feelings of relaxation and joy, whether indoors or outdoors.
Care for others – research has shown that the act of caring for others may boost your own sense of purpose and bring reciprocal mental health benefits.
Accept your unique individuality – comparing ourselves to others can bring up feelings of anxiety and ‘less’. Remember we are all individuals, with unique skills and personalities.
Additional information regarding poor mental health can be found at the following links:
- Poor mental health – Mental Health Organisation
- Possible causes of poor mental health – NHS UK
- What is poor mental health? – Change Your Mind
Want to know more?
ProVen Probiotics aim to provide the best support for both you and your health. If you wish to know more about gut health and mental health awareness please do not hesitate to call us on 01639 825107 or alternatively, learn more via our blogs or in-depth ProVen research.
ProVen Probiotics, Unit 2 Christchurch Road, Baglan Industrial Park, Port Talbot, SA12 7DJ. Tel: 01639 825107