Tools to stay resilient, even in difficult times!

Drug prescriptions are on the rise.  How many are still suffering in silence?

The good news first. The rise of anti-anxiety medications can partly be explained by more patients being open to seeking help for mental health concerns says a recent study that finds explanations for the strong increase. Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the following:

“Evidence shows that antidepressants can be effective drugs when used appropriately, so this research should not be a cause for alarm – indeed, it is most likely to suggest that more people are seeking medical help for anxiety-related conditions, as well as improvement in the identification and diagnosis of them.” 

Whilst it is great that patients and seem to be more active in seeking help consulting their GP’s, this study has only covered the rise from 2003-2018 and doesn’t cover the last two years. The effect of the pandemic on the mental health of everyone in this country is likely to be substantial and the number of people who needed help, but haven’t consulted their GP (before, during and after the pandemic), is unknown.

So what can be done for those who aren’t on medications, especially these days when we just work through the aftermath of the pandemic and trying to figure out what a “normal” life is?

Not everyone is prepared to speak up about their struggles. There is still social stigma about having mental health issues (mainly, but not only, among men). Also, it is difficult for an individual to judge whether they should simply “muddle through” compared to finding help in different ways. Whilst some need medication, the larger group of people is likely to need some simple and easily accessible tools to keep a positive mindset.

Apart from medication, what are those tools to stay resilient, even in difficult times?

  1. First of all, understand that you are not alone! Even if no-one in your group of friends and family have spoken up yet, it is very likely they find things hard. The number of people on anti-anxiety medication has risen over the years, so there are many people who need support and there is no shame in that.
  2. If in doubt, that’s when you should see someone! Whilst the NHS tries their best to allocate mental health advice and therapy where needed, the waiting lists can be long and this might feel discouraging. However, you will always be helped immediately when you have a severe mental health issue. 

“GPs are highly trained to have open, sensitive and confidential conversations with their patients, and when discussing mental health concerns, they will consider various treatment options based on the unique needs of the patient. “ says Professor Marshall.

  1. There is help out there, even if you need just a “problem solved”. Mental health is influenced by genes and (apart from things that happened in the past), you current circumstances. You might be genetically set up with strong mental health but circumstances can be hard. Even if you have felt strong all your life, sometimes it can make sense to get some professional help figure out a specific problem in your life you are struggling with. The pandemic has thrown many of us into uncertainty and now some feel the pressure of bouncing back, even when not all issues have been addressed. There are private therapists who can help with those kinds of issues.
  2. There are plenty of affordable tools to improve mental health. Another barrier to get access to help is budget. When money is scarce (and the current rising energy prices make this more of an issue), going to a nice yoga retreat (something that might get you into a better mental state), is a privilege that not many can afford. If you are on a budget, find some great help online. There are resources online that can be helpful and many of them are entirely free, like mindfulness apps or blogs from therapists and charities. A guided journal can also be an affordable way to focus your thoughts on the good in your life, starting to set yourself up for a more positive mindset.
  3. Just feeling a bit stuck? Life coaching is a “soft” way to understand where you stand in your life and what area can be improved. If you simply feel at a crossroads in your career or personal life and need advice from someone who is non-judgemental, life coaching can be an excellent tool to support you in your next steps towards a happier life.

Your mental health is worth looking after at any stage, even when you feel fine. It is very much advised to look after your mental health, even before bigger issues occur. Help can be found doing journaling, exercise, yoga and meditation and other forms of self-care, like mindfulness. Remember, setting yourself up for good mental health is as important as looking after your physical health!