Mental Health Awareness: Ending the Stigma

If you have been scrolling your social media this week you may have seen the hashtag “Mental Health Awareness”.  This week was kicked off with thousands across the UK meeting at dawn to take part in the famous “Darkness into Light” walk which raises awareness for suicide prevention and mental health charities. 

Mental Health is something we don’t talk about openly enough, especially here in Northern Ireland, because of the stigma surrounding the matter.  The correct funding is not in place to support those suffering from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder and many more issues.  I often hear older generations describe individuals as being “bad with their nerves” simply because they do not fully comprehend what sufferers are feeling, as well as the fact that such issues were kept ‘hush hush’ until recently.  It is vital that we fund charities such as Aware NI, Mind Wise, Lighthouse Belfast and NIAMH.

Although there are so many types of mental health issues, I want to focus this blog around anxiety due to the sheer amount of friends I have that suffer, as well as myself.  Anxiety is something people do not fully understand, even members of staff at my University, friends and older generations were not clear on the matter.  It can effect different people in different ways.  It’s so important that individuals are educated in mental health and have a full understanding of symptoms and what the best ways to help someone feel more at ease because it is such a common issue with both younger and older generations in today’s society.

Ways of improving your moods:

  • Talking to someone – whether it’s a friend you can relate to, a parent or a doctor, you feel 10 times better after getting your feelings off your chest.
  • Try to eat healthier – from personal experience I have found my anxiety to decrease when my diet is healthier.  Whether its cutting junk food and replacing it with balanced meals and fresh ingredients, or the dreaded cutting down on alcohol intake, you’ll begin to see an improvement.
  • Yoga and Meditation – taking as little as 20 minutes to sit alone, stretch and exercise your breathing.
  • Working Out – an hour in the gym, a walk in the fresh air or a swim can all help to clear your mind.  Your body releases endorphins during exercise which reduce stress levels and aid your positive mental attitude.

Click here to read facts about mental health in Northern Ireland (it’s interesting, trust me).

Mental Health is not something to be embarrassed about.  Know that you are not alone! End the stigma.

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