Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 runs from 15 to 21 May. The week, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, is an annual event that focuses on improving good mental health across the nation. This year’s theme is ‘Anxiety’.
Anxiety is a normal emotion in us all, but sometimes it can get out of control and become a mental health problem. Lots of things can lead to feelings of anxiety, including exam pressures, relationships, starting a new job (or losing one) or other big life events.
We can also get anxious when it comes to things to do with money and not being able to meet our basic needs, like heating our home or buying food. This is a particular issue for many of us at the moment, with the anxiety caused by the cause of living crisis. The uncertainty of watching as our costs spiral can be difficult to bear. The worry of how we’ll get by and support our families is piling on the pressure. But for so many of us, looking after our mental health is often last on our list.
As individuals, as families, as communities – we can’t afford to ignore the impact on our mental health. Whether it’s ourselves, our loved ones, our colleagues, our neighbours or strangers. Every one of us needs to know we’re not alone.
Having so much to deal with can affect your mental health. Buckinghamshire Mind can’t fix the cost of living crisis. But we can help you and people you know feel more able to cope.
On a positive note, anxiety can be made easier to manage. We asked three Bucks Mind staff members to tell us a bit about themselves are share their tips for how they manage feelings of anxiety and look after their mental health wellbeing.
Elouise, Friends in Need Coordinator for Bracknell
Elouise’s role includes facilitating and coordinating peer support groups and activities for members of Friends in Need (FiN) and Peers2Pals (for 17 to 25 year olds). FiN offers a variety of uplifting activities, such as art and mindfulness, to support mental health and wellbeing. What Elouise loves most about her job is seeing members grow in confidence, so much so that they feel empowered to run their own groups.
“One of my favourite forms of self-care is to spend time in nature and get some fresh air. I love to go for a walk, with my headphones playing full blast to my favourite music!
“Research shows that music can have a beneficial effect on brain chemicals such as dopamine, which is linked to feelings of pleasure, and oxytocin, the so-called ‘love hormone’. And there is moderate evidence that music can help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.”
Fun fact: Elouise’s favourite food is Thai cuisine.
Salome, Head of Quality & Evaluation
Salome’s role, along with the Quality Team, is to take a birds eye view across the Buckinghamshire Mind and find ways to improve how we do things, ranging from making sure we all have a safe environment to work in to measuring the impact we have on the lives of People We Support. Salome hopes that the work she does helps her colleagues working in service delivery to do their jobs as effectively as they can.
“As a former yoga teacher, many of my strategies for coping with anxiety involve breathing techniques or movement.
“When feeling overwhelmed, breaking things down into tiny chunks – perhaps as small as ‘what needs to be done in the next 1 minute’ can help find a way forward. And it’s so important to circle back and see how far you’ve already come.”
Fun fact: When not working for Bucks Mind, Salome can be found in her shed making jewellery or practising karate.
Solveig, Community Connector
Solveig is a Community Connector, working in the Bracknell area. Her role is to signpost, bridge and support people going through significant mental health issues. The thing Solveig most enjoys about working for Buckinghamshire Mind is the rewarding nature of her role, and the support and inclusivity she receives from her colleagues.
“If I am feeling anxious, I like to sit and cuddle my rescue dog Tess, or I sit and do some deep breathing to relaxing music. I also find having a calming bath helpful, and reading a good book as it’s an escape into another world.
“If I am worrying about money, I sit down and make a list of all my outgoings for the month and plan out how I need to budget. Having it written out on paper really helps to put it into perspective.”
Fun fact: Solveig’s favourite film is The Nightmare before Christmas. “I love this film so much I have tattoos of two of the main characters.”