World Mental Health Day (10 Oct) is a day to talk about mental health and show everyone that mental health matters. It’s also a day to let people know that it’s okay to ask for help, no matter what you’re going through.
Around one in five women have a common mental health problem such as depression and anxiety and while there can be many reasons why these develop, some risk factors affect many women.
Some of the issues that affect women’s mental health include:
Being a carer – caring for others, whilst rewarding, may lead to stress, anxiety and isolation.
Physical and sexual abuse – women are often at a risk from physical and sexual abuse and violence, which can lead to long-term impact on their mental wellbeing.
Risk of poverty – the thought of losing what you have worked hard for can cause extreme stress. Concerns about personal safety, food security and inability to pay bills can cause anxiety and mental anguish.
Life events such as having a child and hormonal changes – perinatal depression includes antenatal depression that can occur during pregnancy and postnatal depression that can occur after giving birth.
Menopause – while every woman’s experience of the menopause is different, many women find they have symptoms in addition to the end of their menstruation. These can cause mood swings, anxiety and feeling low.
Mental wellbeing is a complex and subjective topic as it is a unique experience for each individual. Making simple changes could make a world of difference in how you safeguard your feelings.
The NHS gives tips on how to improve your mental wellbeing.
Talk to someone
This might be a friend, a family member, a colleague or someone you feel comfortable to open up to (even if you don’t know them), through a support helpline.
Reframe unhelpful thoughts
The way we think, feel and behave are linked. Sometimes we develop patterns of thoughts or behaviours that are unhelpful, so recognising them, and taking steps to think about things differently, can improve your mental health and wellbeing.
Be in the present
If we take time to be aware of ourselves and be in the present moment, noticing our own thoughts and feelings, and the world around us, we can gain a better perspective. Sometimes this is known as being more mindful.
Get good sleep
Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how we feel mentally and physically, so it’s important to get enough.
Live a healthy life
Being active, enjoying the outdoors and having a healthy, balanced diet all impact how we feel. Also, binning bad habits like smoking, and cutting down on alcohol and caffeine can have a positive effect on our mood.
Do something for yourself
From enjoying your favourite hobby, learning something new or simply taking time to relax, it’s important to do things that make you happy, like trying a new hobby or learning a new skill.
Write a letter to future you
When you’re feeling good, think about what you would want to tell your future self if things get harder and you find you need more support. Reminding yourself of what’s keeping you feeling positive right now can help you through those more difficult times in the future.
The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day highlights that, ‘mental health is a universal human right’, addressing the inequalities in mental health and working towards good mental health for all, not just for some.
We all need good mental health and wellbeing – it’s essential to living happy and healthy lives and if you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, you are not alone. There are places you can go to get help.
The Mental Health Foundation works towards good mental health for all. Follow the link for more information on how you can get involved.