Wednesday 16 May 2018

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 - Stress

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the focus this year is on stress.
"Research has shown that two thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes, and stress is a key factor in this. By tackling stress, we can go a long way to tackle mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, and, in some instances, self-harm and suicide" - Mental Health Foundation
Almost everyone experiences stress at some point in their lives - in education, at work, at home, with their health or in relationships as a few examples.

The Mental Health Foundation conducted a survey in 2018 on stress and here are some of their findings:

  • In the past year, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope.
  • 46% reported that they ate too much or ate unhealthily due to stress. 29% reported that they started drinking or increased their drinking, and 16% reported that they started smoking or increased their smoking.
  • 51% of adults who felt stressed reported feeling depressed, and 61% reported feeling anxious.
  • Of the people who said they had felt stress at some point in their lives, 16% had self harmed and 32% said they had had suicidal thoughts and feelings.
  • 37% of adults who reported feeling stressed reported feeling lonely as a result.
  • 36% of all adults who reported stress in the previous year cited either their own or a friend/relative's long-term health condition as a factor. 
  • 49% of 18-24 year olds who have experienced high levels of stress, felt that comparing themselves to others was a source of stress.
  • 36% of women who felt high levels of stress related this to their comfort with their appearance and body image, compared to 23% of men.
  • Housing worries are a key source of stress for younger people (32% of 18-24 year olds cited it as a source of stress in the past year). 
  • Younger people have higher stress related to the pressure to succeed. 60% of 18-24 year olds and 41% of 25-34 year olds cited this, compared to 17% of 45-54s and 6% of over 55s).
For more statistics visit: Mental Health Foundation - Stress Statistics Survey

As someone with both physical and mental health difficulties stress in my life is just something I come to expect and have to live with on a near daily basis. Some days I deal with stress better than other days. Being ill is a big stresser - having to make what feels like a million and one phone calls and emails to gets things sorted; waiting for appointments and test rests and just simply dealing with the illness and symptoms itself, especially pain and lack of sleep are two big stresses for me.

I believe that its normal and in some ways, at times, healthy to be stressed as it gives us that push to get things done and it is what makes up human. But equally when we're feeling stressed its important to deal with it and nip it in the bud before it becomes more serious.

Dealing with what is making you stressed is important, and reaching out to others for help an support is key, whether it be a partner, friend, family member or a professional. It's not weak or selfish to ask for help.

For more help on how to manage stress check out these helpful resources: