Recognise and better understand anxiety this Mental Health Awareness week
15 to 21 May marks Mental Health Awareness Week.
The Mental Health Foundation has set the theme, organised and hosted Mental Health Awareness Week for the last 23 years. The week provides an opportunity for individuals, businesses and organisations to talk about the wider issues related to mental health and wellbeing and to focus on ways in which people who are affected can seek help and advice.
Anxiety – the theme for 2023
For 2023, Mental Health Awareness Week explores anxiety and how it affects our mental health.
Anxiety is a normal human emotion that we all experience at some point in our lives. It's a natural response to stress and can help us stay alert and focused in difficult situations. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions in the UK, affecting around 1 in 6 adults every year. They can cause persistent and excessive worry, fear, and physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, and shortness of breath.
Here's more on what it means to have anxiety, how it can affect your mental health, and some resources from mental health organisations.
Anxiety is a complex and multifaceted condition that can have both psychological and physical causes. Some common factors that can contribute to anxiety include:
- Genetics: Some people may be more prone to anxiety due to their genetic makeup.
- Environment: Traumatic or stressful life events, such as abuse, divorce or job loss can trigger anxiety.
- Personality: People who are perfectionists, worriers or have low self-esteem may be more likely to develop anxiety.
- Substance abuse: Drugs and alcohol can increase anxiety levels and trigger panic attacks.
Types of anxiety disorders
There are several types of anxiety disorders, including:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): A chronic condition that causes excessive and persistent worry about everyday events and activities.
- Panic disorder: An intense and sudden feeling of fear that can lead to a panic attack.
- Social anxiety disorder: Fear and anxiety about social situations and being judged or evaluated by others.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): A condition characterised by intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviours that can be difficult to control.
Listen, share and be heard
If you feel comfortable doing so, it may help to talk about how you feel to friends, family, or perhaps to your line manager or your firm’s mental-health first aider. You could also consult to a doctor or therapist or try talking therapy.
If you are a CA student who is experiencing anxiety, you may feel comfortable speaking to your line manager or firm’s Training Principal, or you could make use of the ICAS Student Assistance Programme which includes 365-days-a-year access to BACP-accredited counsellors.
Tips on how to better manage anxiety
Here are a few tips provided by the NHS on how to cope with anxiety:
- Try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could also contact Samaritans, call 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need someone to talk to.
- Use calming breathing exercises.
- Exercise – activities such as running, walking, swimming and yoga can help you relax.
- Find out how to get to sleep if you’re struggling to sleep.
- Eat a healthy diet with regular meals to keep your energy levels stable.
- Consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other. Find out more about peer support on the Mind website.
- Listen to free mental wellbeing audio guides.