This week (14-20 May 2018) is Mental Health Awareness Week. With at least one in six people suffering from a mental health issue, and suicide as one of the leading causes of death for 20-49 year olds in the UK, understanding the signs and symptoms of mental health problems is crucial.

For some, feelings of hopelessness, being trapped with your own thoughts, or feeling overwhelmed can be a daily ordeal. Sometimes, there is a specific trigger that causes these emotions, and at other times, there may be no reason at all.

Navigating these feelings is a challenge, not just for the person experiencing them, but also their friends and family, who may not know how to properly support them. While today, there is far less of a stigma towards mental health issues, we still have a long way to go in addressing them properly.

Of course, mental health isn’t just about depression and anxiety. This year, the theme of Mental Health Awareness is stress, and this is something we can all relate to. The most recent report from the Mental Health Foundation revealed that 74% of people have experienced such a high level of stress that they feel unable to cope.

One of the key elements in supporting good mental health is education. For young people, dealing with the pressure of performing well in exams and having an active social life (not to mention the influence of social media) can often lead to early onset anxiety, which can stick with them well into adulthood.

Projects like Headucation UK from the Shaw Mind Foundation are campaigning to improve this, by increasing the quality and frequency of mental health education in schools, teaching young children how to identify and cope with these feelings for both themselves, and their peers.

Education isn’t just for young people of course, learning about the various support mechanisms, whether it’s face-to-face therapy, online counselling, or even telephone support from organisations like Samaritans, could make a real difference when times are tough, either for yourself, or a loved one! You can find plenty of information on the NHS website on how to find the right support.

The important thing to remember is that it’s OK to not be OK – most people will struggle with some form of mental health issue at some point during their lives, and there is no shame in looking for support when times are hard!

To see what we’ve been up to for Mental Health Awareness Week, you can follow us on Twitter @PLMRLtd

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