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Mental Health Awareness Week 2023

What is Mental Health Awareness Week 2023?

Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 looks to educate people and engage them in conversations about the impact, prevalence and signs of mental health conditions while aiming to reduce stigma. The week is organised by the Mental Health Foundation though is supported by numerous other organisations and charities based in the UK. This year, the event will run from 15 May to 21 May.

To support the event, people, as with most similar awareness weeks, are encouraged to engage in fundraising activities, however this is not the only way in which you can show your support to Mental Health Awareness Week 2023. Official resources are available for download in both English and Cymraeg which are designed to facilitate discussion and normalise conversations about mental health.

The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2023, as chosen by the Mental Health Foundation, is ‘anxiety’. Everyone experiences anxiety to varying degrees at some point in their life, and for some, it can be a deeply troubling and difficult thing to deal with as symptoms worsen and affect everyday life.

Why is anxiety the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2023?

Anxiety can be triggered by lots of things, such as exams, some social situations or medical appointments. It’s important to remember that a lot of what causes feelings of anxiety for people isn’t within their control. This is why it’s important for events such as Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 to highlight just how common anxiety is.

Anxiety and feelings of anxiousness are key symptoms of many other conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias and more. However, some people may also experience generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), which pertains to anxiety not caused by one specific event and is thought to affect 1 in 25 people in the UK.

Common symptoms of anxiety include restlessness, feelings of being on edge and physical symptoms such as nausea, sweating and heart palpations. Of course, this list is not complete, and symptoms of anxiety are extensive and vary from person to person in severity and appearance.

What are some misconceptions about anxiety?

One of the ways in which we can all engage with Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 is to try and educate ourselves and others, with the aim of challenging misconceptions and stereotypes. As with many mental health-related conditions, anxiety is often misunderstood, possibly because the physical symptoms may not be easily visible.

Because the large majority of people will experience symptoms of anxiety at some point in their lives, some people incorrectly believe that anxiety isn’t a real condition per se, but more of an inevitability of the human condition. Though anxiety is common, it’s important to remember that it should be treated with the same respect as any other illness or health complaint, especially when it is prolonged and starts to impact people’s ability to function normally.

Further misconceptions centre around the treatment of anxiety. While it’s common knowledge that certain medications, such as beta-blockers can help to reduce anxiety-related symptoms, other means of treatment such as therapy and CBT can help to combat the condition too.

How can I support pupils with their mental health?

Despite what some people might think, mental health conditions and anxiety do not purely affect adults. While exams are a common cause of stress and anxiety for thousands of schoolchildren and young people all over the country, there are many reasons why children might experience mental health issues. For this reason, we’ve produced a webinar titled ‘Anxiety and Depression in Children: A Practical Guide for Primary School’, focused on helping you provide support to children below Key Stage 3.

If not addressed, anxiety and depression in childhood can lead to ongoing issues in adulthood. Experiences of the pandemic have undoubtedly fuelled mental health issues in recent months, with many schools left wondering how they can best support an increasing number of vulnerable pupils.

This webinar will provide headteachers, senior leaders, governors, designated mental health leads teachers and practitioners with advice and practical guidance on supporting pupils who display symptoms of anxiety and depression

How can I support staff with their mental health?

Teachers, senior leaders and support staff may be in positions of authority and responsibility, but this doesn’t mean that they aren’t just as prone to mental health conditions and struggles as the wider population. Indeed, it’s vital that staff are given the support they need and this TED talk titled ‘How can we support the emotional well-being of teachers?’ is a brilliant source of information and inspiration.

In this eye-opening talk, educator Sydney Jensen explores how teachers are at risk of "secondary trauma", the idea that they absorb the emotional weight of their student’s experiences, and shows how schools and colleges can get creative in supporting everyone's mental health and wellness.