Monday, December 18, 2017

You’d expect Mental Health Awareness Week to call for more attention to be paid and assistance given to serious mental health problems (and it is). But this year the charity behind the initiative, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), is widening the conversation to cover everyone’s mental health – yes, even yours – by asking: are you surviving or thriving?

In a preview podcast, the MHF’s Mark Rowland explained that the campaign wanted people to have a better understanding of, and know how to address, their own day-to-day mental health.

Rowland spoke about how many people felt that the requirements placed upon them were greater than the resources at their disposal. He likened it to standing in the sea and being buffeted by waves – expending a huge amount of energy just to stay above the water.

New research by the MHF released today shows how few people in the UK feel like they’re thriving. Of 2,290 people interviewed for the study, only 13% reported high levels of good mental health.

So what can be done to improve this state of affairs? The MHF has highlighted the problem of societal inequality: the charity’s research showed that a greater proportion of people in the lowest household income bracket experienced a mental health problem. This includes suggesting five steps to start remedying the issues, from the creation of a Royal Commission to an increase in research funding.

But on an individual level, there are a variety of things everyone can try in an effort to help improve their mental wellbeing, like improving resilience, eating well and exercising, and developing new, positive habits. We’ll be posting about these topics and more all week but to start, take the MHF’s survey to get an indication of how your mental health compares with the nation’s.

This simple seven-question quiz covers things like how often you feel useful and how well you feel like you’re dealing with problems. And whatever your responses tell you, the MHF has information and resources you’ll find useful.