World Mental Health Day – How to Cope in a Changing World.
The 10th October 2018 marks World Mental Health Day; entitled, ‘Young People and Mental health in a Changing World’. This year’s theme is particularly pertinent, as those diagnosed with depression and anxiety is increasing and ubiquitous amongst young people. It is believed, one in ten children have a diagnosable mental health disorder, which shockingly equates to three children in every classroom.
According to YoungMinds’ statistics, the leading mental health charity for children and young people, half of all mental health problems manifest themselves by the age of fourteen, and 75% by the age of twenty four. Our formative years, and early adulthood, encompasses many changes including leaving home, commencing university, or beginning a new job. For many, these changes are exciting, embarking on new adventures, experimenting, and identity making. However, for others it can be a downward spiral into anxiety and unease into the unknown. If left unspoken or unresolved, these feelings can possibly lead to a mental health disorder.
The gruelling and constant changes to academic examinations and the expanding use of social media compounds the additional pressures young adults face. The expectation to connect with others 24/7 hours of the day, project a perfect lifestyle on Instagram and being bombarded with advertisements which convince us buying certain items or following celebrities will make our lives better, fuller, or happier have been identified as triggers to mental health problems. In addition, we face the uncertainties of today’s society: a few years ago, terrorist and humanitarian emergencies were less reported, whereas, with Brexit looming and politician’s fear tactics sprawled across the media, uncertainty is now part of our daily diet. All of which reinforce feelings of anxiety amongst young adults and contribute to creating a perfect storm, explaining why suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst 15-29-year olds according to The World Health Organisation.
With campaigns such as the Heads Together campaign spearheaded by the Royal Family, and the government pledging to invest more money into young people’s mental health, there has been growing recognition of the importance of addressing young people’s emotional and mental resilience in order to cope with the challenges of today’s society. The evidence base of safeguarding young people’s mental health and taking preventative action is gaining greater coverage. Indeed, if mental health is thwarted early on, it is more likely to be resolved, as well leading to healthier and more fruitful societies.
Much can be done, including parents and those in education helping to build life skills for young people to help them overcome challenges. As well as much needed investment from the government and the involvement of social, health and education sectors in creating comprehensive, integrated, evidence-based programmes for preventing mental health illness.
But if this all seems out of your circle of influence, and you yourself are unable to manage the unpredictability and unease of change, or struggle with your own mental health, here’s a few things you can do this World Mental Health Day.
- Start the discussion – by discussing mental health openly with those around you without discrimination or shame, you will be contributing to fight the stigma of mental health. Remember it’s okay to not be okay.
- Get support – if you’re feeling as if your mental health is stopping you from doing the things you usually enjoy, make sure you talk to someone, and reach out for help. The University Wellbeing team are always on hand to discuss any of your worries, as well as the Union of Student’s help and advice service.
- Let go – Hands up if you’ve ever woke up early, ready on time, only to find yourself late, stuck in traffic and unable to move? Often overcoming uncertainty, is accepting some things are beyond your control. Once you learn to let go, and recognise there is only so much you can do, you can begin to live in the moment.
- View change as opportunity – a blank slate can appear daunting, but remember you’re standing on the threshold of possibly. So, if you’re embarking on something new, attempt to view the unknown, or change as an opportunity to learn something new, make friends or build your own resilience.
- Reflect – simply jotting down your strengths, or stating three things you’re grateful for can really help transform your thinking and mind-set. It can be easy to fall into a trap of critical thinking – we hold ourselves to impossible standards – recognise your strengths and what you can do as opposed to what you cannot do.