Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week.
Harrogate has a reputation for being one of the happiest towns in the UK. But people struggle with mental health issues here as much as in other places. It’s really important that we break through the Happygate façade and encourage each other to talk about our mental health.
(Click on the infographic for local statistics.)
Young or old; extrovert or introvert, we all have mental health and it is important that we all protect it and look after ourselves no matter where we are on our journey in life.
Sometimes our journey doesn’t always take us where planned and we may struggle to cope. And that’s ok.
Mental Health Conditions include depression, seasonal affective disorder, anxiety, bipolar disorder, phobias, eating disorders, and many others. This can lead to self-harm, anger issues or even suicide.
Anyone can suffer from mental health issues and it can stem from a range of things like work, relationships, exam stress, money troubles, bereavement, conflict, and isolation.
There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about if you’re not feeling 100% yourself; the most important thing you can do is to reach out to someone.
If you think you may be suffering from a mental health condition and don’t know where to turn, here are few things you can do:
Talk to somebody
It’s that age-old cliché, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved.’ But never has an anecdote been truer. You should never go through this alone. Talk about what is on your mind; it doesn’t matter how small it may seem.
Whether that be to a close friend, family member, colleague or teacher. Or come in and see us at the Hub; you’ll be welcomed with a warm smile and a friendly face.
Often people suffering from mental health isolate themselves so if you have noticed someone in your social circle not hanging around with you as often, perhaps they may battling something deeper.
According to Time to Change: “Having a mate in your corner can make all the difference. It could be the difference between missing out on the things you care about to getting the support you need to get better.”
Book a doctor’s appointment
The longer you put off calling your GP, the longer symptoms will persist and you may feel worse over time. A doctor will help you put your mind at rest and direct you where to go next. They won’t judge you.
They might put you on medication or refer you to a counsellor. Don’t worry about booking a doctor’s appointment in work or school time; just focus on looking after yourself.
And if you are feeling too anxious to miss work due to a medical appointment, there are plenty of morning and evening slots available. Go ahead and make that call.
Do your research
The internet is a wonderful resource and might help you come to terms with how you are feeling. Below is a list of some great websites that may help you on your mental health journey; including anxiety exercises and stories from other people who have experienced mental illness:
Not only does exercise, keep you fit and healthy, it is also a great way to relieve stress and forget about the day’s troubles. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and can also build your confidence. Exercising doesn’t have to involve going to the gym and comparing yourselves to others. We’re so fortunate in Harrogate that there are loads of great sport facilities and groups.
Check out just a few of these places you could go to:
Join a new club or start a new hobby
As well as exercise club and groups, there are loads of other clubs you can join in our town. Or why not start your own group with your friends? Like meeting for a weekly walk or setting up a book club. Having a hobby creates a routine and can give you a new focus for your mind.
Here are some of Harrogate’s activities, clubs and societies:
At the Hub, we also have leaflets and information about activities within the community and at local churches. Drop in during our open hours to find out more.
Write it down
Sometimes expressing how you feel aloud can be difficult. Try writing down how you feel. There are loads of great examples of bullet diaries and mood trackers on Pinterest, which are a creative way to organise your day and your mind. Keep a note of you feel and if you find it hard to say how you are to friends, you could also share what you have written with them. Writing or doodling switches you off and focuses your mind in a creative way.
Look at this mood tracker below:
Bubble baths, movie marathons and duvet days. Don’t feel bad about doing absolutely nothing and unwinding. It’s good to do nothing and just forget about any stress you might be under. If you’re struggling with not knowing how to relax, try looking at some breathing exercises or mindfulness tips online.
When you feel low, that’s all you can focus on and you might feel like you’re stuck in a rut. Try looking at some old photos to remind yourself of happier memories or recall things that used to make you feel good, like restarting an old hobby.
Your appearance might start going astray and you might stop caring about what you look like. Maybe book yourself in for hair cut or go for a pamper session. This might help build your confidence and make you feel more like you again.
Remember it’s ok not to feel ok and that your current situation, isn’t your final destination and it will get better.
You are awesome.
Join in the conversation on our Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram or come along to our Quiz Night, where a specialist will be speaking about mental health in Harrogate.
Written by Rachel Williams
Edited by Ella Green