Most people affected by a mental health problem in their lifetime

A new report by the Mental Health Foundation to mark the start of Mental Health Awareness Week (May 8 - 14, 2017) suggests only a small minority of people in this country say they have high levels of good mental health.

Overall, current levels of good mental health are low, the charity claims, and while as a nation we’ve great strides in terms of physical health and life expectancy, the same needs to be achieved for the health of our minds.

Some of the findings of the report – which surveyed 2,290 people in England, Scotland and Wales – are as follows:

  • Almost two thirds of people say they’ve experienced a mental health problem.
  • More than four in 10 say they’ve experienced depression.
  • More than a quarter claim they’ve experienced panic attacks.
  • The majority of out-of-work people (85 percent) have experienced a mental health problem, compared with two thirds of people in work and half of those who have retired.
  • Those aged 55 and older report having better mental health than average.
  • The over-55s are also more likely to take positive steps to help themselves deal better with everyday life.

What can you do?

One of the things the Mental Health Foundation is calling for to help improve the nation’s mental health is a national programme to spread public understanding about how to look after your mental health. But there are also lots of things you can do yourself to boost your mental health – here are some of the charity’s suggestions:

Talk about your feelings Having a chat about what’s worrying you may help you cope with your problems better.

Keep active Regular exercise can help boost self-esteem and help improve other areas of your mental health too.

Eat well Try to eat a nutritious diet with at least five portions of fruit and veg every day.

Drink sensibly Alcohol may improve your mood initially, but when the effects wear off you’ll probably end up feeling worse.

Keep in touch Give someone a call, drop them a note or chat to them online.

Ask for help Needing a helping hand when things get on top of you isn’t a sign of weakness. Ask your GP what treatments and services are available to you.

Take a break Try having a change of scene or a change of pace – it could be good for your mood.

Do something you’re good at Making time for activities you enjoy is a great way to combat stress.

Accept who you are Make a conscious effort to stop comparing yourself to other people – it will help you feel good about yourself.

Care for others Helping and caring for others may help put your own problems in perspective.

For more information and advice about mental health issues, visit the Mental Health Foundation website.

Meanwhile, if you think you may be depressed but you’re not sure, try taking the NHS’s depression self-assessment test.

You can also speak to your local Careway pharmacist if you’re finding it difficult to cope emotionally. To find a Careway pharmacy where you live, use our Pharmacy Finder.