Feeling anxious? Not sleeping? A bit down? Here’s why you should make time for your mental health
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Are you feeling a bit anxious at the moment? Not sleeping very well or enjoying things that you normally love? Maybe you feel a touch low or overwhelmed?
It’s a situation many of us occasionally find ourselves in, and often the temptation is to just grit our teeth and get on with it. But we should take it more seriously. Because these are signs of poor mental health that, without some attention, may become worse.
Just as we try to nip other illnesses in the bud by going to see the GP, visiting a pharmacist or taking painkillers, we should be as proactive when we start struggling with our mental wellbeing.
There are plenty of things we can do to help ourselves that don’t require a doctor’s appointment or medication. Over time, doing this helps us cope better with the stresses and challenges of life and can also reduce our chances of becoming sick.
Luckily there are plenty of free resources to help you look after mild to moderate mental health difficulties. They include:
Better Health – Every Mind Matters
This NHS-approved website helps tackle the four biggest mental health concerns: anxiety, low mood, stress and trouble sleeping. It also helps you maintain good mental wellbeing.
A personalised Mind Plan gives you tips to boost your mood, sleep better and feel more in control – Alexa users can say: ‘Alexa, start my Mind Plan’ for help today.
There are also cognitive behavioural therapy techniques to help you work your way through problems, deal with worries and unhelpful thoughts and build resilience.
And an email programme gives expert advice on how to deal with anxiety.
NHS Talking Therapies
This service (previously called IAPT) gives practical help for many common mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, body dysmorphia and post-traumatic stress disorder.
It can also help you cope with anxiety and depression caused by long-term physical health issues such as cancer and diabetes.
Therapies can be accessed online or in person. To find your local NHS talking therapies service and self-refer, go to nhs.uk/talk. NHS talking therapies are free, effective and confidential treatments delivered by fully trained and accredited NHS practitioners.
Hub of Hope
Don’t suffer on your own. Hub of Hope, run by the charity Chasing the Stigma, lets you find out what’s available locally and nationally to help with a range of mental health concerns including anxiety, depression, trauma or PTSD and their causes, such as financial concerns, loneliness, gambling or substance misuse.
Visit hubofhope.co.uk or download the free app to get started.
This lets you explore relaxation techniques, record your mood every day, look for patterns in how you’re feeling, make a personal safety plan and store images of things that give you hope. Visit selfhelp.samaritans.org
Get in-the-moment mental health support from this great website which includes resources and tips to support you when you’re feeling anxious, low, stressed or overwhelmed. Visit giveusashout.org
IT’S GOOD FOR MEN TO TALK
When Scott Johnson went through two relationship break-ups followed by two custody battles in short succession, it understandably took a toll on his mental health.
Through the NHS he received cognitive behavioural therapy, but wanted to find a way to continue the great feeling it gave him long after the sessions stopped.
An online search revealed that walking could help, so Scott, 35, set up the Proper Blokes Club in south London, where men could walk and talk about their problems. Now he organises seven walks a week for up to 50 men at a time.
Walk and talk: Football coach Scott Johnson with some of the Proper Blokes Club
‘We want to make blokes more open and honest about how they feel,’ says Scott, a football coach. ‘We create a safe environment where one minute we can have a chat about work or football, then we can say, ‘Are you all right?’ That way, you get an honest answer.
‘Men don’t share those types of emotions, but having conversations and not bottling stuff up can help.’
IN A CRISIS?
If you’re having thoughts about self-harm or suicide, don’t wait to get help – find your local 24/7 NHS crisis line on nhs.uk/urgentmentalhealth or visit 111.nhs.uk. Under-35s can also visit papyrus-uk.org or call 0800 068 4141 for help. If you do not feel you can keep yourself or someone else safe, call 999.
FIND HELP ON YOUR PHONE
◼ Using the free NHS App is an easy way to find out what mental health services are available in your area and how to access them.
◼ With the NHS App, you can order repeat prescriptions and view your health information; you can also get health advice using the health A-Z on the NHS website.
◼ The NHS App is available to anyone aged 13 and over registered with an NHS GP in England and the Isle of Man. Download from the App Store or Google Play.
For more information, visit nhs.uk/nhs-app.
For more help and advice on your mental health and wellbeing, go to nhs.uk/mentalhealth
■ This article is part of a paid-for partnership with HM Government
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