Ahead of World Mental Health Day, Dorset Mind volunteer Annabel Goddard emphasises the importance of taking back your mental health
As a nation we seem to have mostly acclimatised to the notion that ‘mental health is a human right’ – as recently declared by the UN – and many of us are proactive about our own health. We can also recognise when our friends and family might need extra support with their mental wellbeing.
Taking the power to own our mental health has become increasingly important, given the collective struggles over the past few years – the pandemic and subsequent cost-of-living crisis giving us more to worry about.
For some, this is much worse than others. As winter looms, the anxiety and stress surrounding paying the winter bills plus the approaching festive period is at an all-time high.
Mental health support from the NHS is an invaluable resource – one for which I personally am extremely grateful for. However, it took me six months to begin treatment after I’d been referred, due to the overwhelming demand across the services. For most of us, there is a big gap between initially seeking support and actually receiving it.
While we wait for services to open and for some serious intervention from the government, how are we able to take back the power back into our own hands surrounding our mental health and take action?
Dorset Mind is asking you to focus on this on World Mental Health Day, 10th October.
These issues can feel much larger than us, of course, but we can all start taking some regular steps to maintaining our own mental wellbeing as individuals. The biggest changes can come from starting small; if we all focused on these as a community of empowered individuals, incrementally it could lead to something huge.
Consider asking your GP what else you could do to support yourself if you’re waiting for services. For example, ask if they provide Dorset Mind’s Active Monitoring service (a programme of supportive intervention and guided self-help to improve mental health and wellbeing). This service has been successful so far in providing support to people who may be in those in-between periods, and has been some guidance to those wanting to get their lives back on track.
Where possible, do budget some time for enjoyment. This can be low cost if needed – anything from trying a new hobby such as painting or writing to taking up a new sport. Having hobbies and creative outlets can significantly reduce our collective stress and anxiety.
It is important, now more than ever, that we are all present and checking in with not only ourselves, but those around us. If you know someone who might be struggling with their mental health, give them a text or a call, and allow them to know you are there. Sometimes just knowing someone has thought of you, that there is someone on the other end of the phone, is enough to make us feel less alone – and we can all do with some compassion right now.
And keep talking yourself – try not to be afraid to open up to your friends and family if you are struggling, it’s possible they could even have experienced the same situation and you may be able to find common ground. You’re there for them, and in turn they’re your support network if you aren’t able to support yourself.
Support for you:
Visit dorsetmind.uk for local mental health support and ways to keep mentally healthy
Call Samaritans on 116 123 for free 24/7 emotional support
Call Dorset’s mental health helpline Connection for support on NHS 111