World Mental Health Day

The Mental Health Foundation estimates that one in four British adults experience a diagnosable mental health problem in any given year. Worldwide, approximately 450 million people suffer from a problem that affects their mental health.

World mental health day

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Of course mental health problems can be very serious and require a great deal of specialist care but even everyday stresses and strains can lead to anxiety and depression. Often these feelings pass but when they linger and you begin to feel weighed down by the problem, it can develop into a more serious issue.

And all too often, those who are developing a problem will try to keep their feelings hidden, despite struggling to cope.

World Mental Healthy Day on October 10 aims to raise public awareness of mental health issues and promote discussion, not only in terms of prevention, treatment and advice, but in encouraging those who are suffering to open up and get the help they need.

So what can you do to ensure you stay in good mental health? Well, a healthy body helps.

All your internal organs require a balanced diet to provide them with nutrients that enable them to function properly... and that includes your brain. Plenty of fresh fruit and veg, wholegrains, oily fish and water are advisable and it is important to limit your caffeine, sugar and alcohol intake.

Exercise will help to keep you healthy, both physically and mentally. Though you might prefer to snuggle on the sofa in the dark winter evenings, just 30 minutes of exercise a day will release endorphins that make you feel good. Not only that, but you will sleep better, feel better and thereby give your self-esteem a boost.

With our long, working days and busy family lives, things can get on top of us quickly and can be difficult to shake off. So it's vital that you take a break, whatever you are doing. Even five minutes in which you step out of the office, pause for a cup of tea or simply take deep breaths and reflect can really help your mind to stay healthy.

It is common for those who feel depressed to cut themselves off from friends and family. But keeping those lines of communication open is essential - whether it's an evening out with friends or a walk in the park, knowing that someone is there to listen gives you a vital sense of support.

If you are unable to shake off your feelings of sadness, depression and anxiety (for whatever reason), it might be time to seek professional help.

For those who are comfortable talking to their GP, a trip to the surgery to talk about your problems is a good place to start - your doctor can refer you to specialist services that can offer support, counselling and advice.

Tell a friend, family member, doctor or, if it all gets too much, ring the Samaritans in confidence - talking about it is the first step to getting better.