This year, the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Anxiety’, something many of us are familiar with in our day-to-day lives. That anxious feeling in the pit of the stomach or getting agitated when stress seems to be piling on are just 2 ways our bodies deal with the natural response of ‘freeze, fight or flight’. To find out more about anxiety, and how each one of us has a unique way of responding to stress go to:

Anxiety and anxiety disorders (when the responses to feeling anxious become so overwhelming they prevent you living your normal daily life) are included in all of the Mental Health First Aid courses that Imagine Independence provide. Currently, I’m working with 6th Form Colleges throughout the London Borough of Merton and have trained 75 year 12s and 13s to be ‘more’ mental health aware; a large part of this is discussing tips on how to spot the signs of poor mental health in each other and themselves and to know where to ask for help before their mental health gets worse, and/or crisis emerges.

A big factor preventing young people from getting help (and for that matter adults too) is stigma. Stigma creates health inequalities, preventing people who are discriminated against from accessing health care. Here’s an article on Ethnic Inequalities in the NHS:

Challenging the stigma that surrounds mental health, and supporting open conversations can encourage more people to seek help before illness and crisis hit. As a society asking for help is often seen as a weakness, but in reality, it’s a strength; the ability to spot distress and put it right before it becomes worse.

I was working with 25 students from Ursuline Catholic School in Merton this week, greatly encouraged by the emphasis support staff put on self-help and developing strategies skills that don’t create dependency. This was backed up by the course I facilitated for the students, focussing on having a chat with someone you’re worried about; encouraging them to get early help when needed, but also to share the reassuring message that feeling low occasionally or stressed out and anxious every now and then is normal. For most, this will pass, especially if we look after our wellbeing. Early intervention is often seen as a clinical intervention, but it can also mean self-help and care, with support from our peers!

Here’s what 1 student wrote in their feedback: “The course was fantastic and helped us understand the complexities within mental health and how best to support not only others but also ourselves! I loved the course and will definitely tell others how much I enjoyed it. Thank you so much” This is a powerful message as we head into Mental Health Week. Knowledge, understanding and support are key to good mental wellbeing.

If you know of a school that would benefit from either formal courses or informal sessions for children of all ages through to teachers, please let me know so Imagine can be involved in this important work.

Your Comment

This site uses cookies that enable us to make improvements, provide relevant content, and for analytics purposes. For more details, see our Cookie Policy. By clicking Accept, you consent to our use of cookies.