Mental Health Awareness Week is a week in May (12-18th) dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues. The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is anxiety, which is an issue – like many other mental health issues – that still has an unnecessary stigma attached to it by those uneducated on the subject.
Anxiety is one of the leading causes of mental-ill health in the world, especially amongst young adults. It is one of the most common mental health problems in the UK, as well as elsewhere in the world. Yet, despite that being the case, it’s not understood by millions and often goes undiagnosed and untreated.
It has been estimated that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. 4.7% of the population experience anxiety and as many as 9.7% suffer mixed depression and anxiety, making it the most common mental health problem.
Anxiety defines a sudden, continuous or reoccurring, fear, tension, or nervousness. It can also lead to unpleasant physical symptoms, as the intense corruptive worry leads you to feeling physically sick, making one feel clammy, sweating and shaking, breathing heavily and developing headaches and chest pain. The physical symptoms are partly caused by the brain which sends messages to the nerves in one’s body when you become increasingly nervous and tense. Anxiety affects so many people, leaving them in so many different uncomfortable situations. The fear and trauma people suffering with anxiety feel daily is often indescribable.
Anxiety is felt by almost everyone at some point in their lives, especially when they’re faced with a traumatic situation, or under an unnatural amount of stress, and in some situations it can be helpful. But the difference is some people are more prone to certain anxieties. For example, let’s consider the fact that we are reaching that extremely stressful time of the year for almost every student, exam season. I don’t know whether you’ve noticed that some people are much more anxious than others before examinations and results, doubting everything, worrying about everything, and stressing about everything. Worrying about the outcome of exams is natural, but it becomes more of an issue, when this anxiety controls the human body and mind, creating impossible, unmovable, uncompromisable barriers in anxiety sufferers minds, feeling like they can not handle, nor cope with the situation, causing major and often unnecessary panic attacks.
Anxiety can be triggered by many things such as feeling uncomfortable in one’s skin, childhood traumas, family crises, civilian trauma, everyday stresses, expectancies of others. Everyone’s struggle with anxiety is different, it’s an issue that should never be undermined, and something that should have a lot more awareness, considering the amount of people who aren’t aware of the fact that they could be suffering at the hands of anxiety. Some people reach the point where they aren’t aware their uncontrollable stress levels are restricting themselves.
I think it’s important that we, as a younger generation, work to support others struggling with mental health issues, helping reduce the stigma attached to it. Mental health issues aren’t uncommon, and not completely uncontrollable. It’s important we are aware of ourselves too, and our own minds. We should work together in order to help raise awareness this week, and every week. As mental health issues of every category deserve awareness and continuous support. People need to know that they don’t and they won’t suffer alone.
* Editor’s Note: if you are suffering, or know someone who’s suffering, from mental health issues you can contact MEIC, Childline, Barnardos and Mind. *