Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will suffer from a mental health problem each year.
Only including the people actually diagnosed, it’s likely that this statistic will realistically be much higher.
Just the other week, I got to volunteer at a BBC Radio 3 talk, titled: “The Emotion Of Now”. In the talk, the audience collectively voted that the emotion of “now” is in fact anxiety.
It seems our anxiety levels are higher than ever, and the statistics show that too. 5.9 in 100 people have a generalised anxiety disorder, and it’s likely that a large amount of others are frequently feeling an overwhelming amount of stress.
But an overwhelming amount of stress isn’t necessarily the same as having an anxiety disorder.
An anxiety disorder can be crippling, just like depression can be. Anxiety can cause both psychological and physical symptoms, including: feeling restless and worried, not being able to concentrate/sleep, dizziness and heart palpitations.
Anxiety can also induce panic attacks – an incredibly frightening experience where symptoms come very suddenly, and vaguely mirror the symptoms of a heart attack.
Depression, on the other hand, is another horrifyingly common mental illness. 3.3 in 100 people in the UK have been professionally diagnosed with the illness, yet it’s likely that it’s much more common as a lot of people simply don’t reach out for help.
Everyone has dark days, but people with depression have dark times that can last for weeks. It can make everything feel less worthwhile, and at its most severe, it can be life threatening, as it can make an individual feel suicidal.
After looking at the statistics of mental health problems across the UK, I wanted to know how many people across Teesside are dealing with mental health problems, by looking at how many people are in contact with mental health services to receive help.
MIDDLESBROUGH: 5,275 people over the age of 18.
STOCKTON ON TEES: 6,470 people over the age of 18.
HARTLEPOOL: 3,450 people over the age of 18.
REDCAR & CLEVELAND: 4,430 people over the age of 18.
DARLINGTON: 4,090 people over the age of 18.
But how does this affect everyday life?
Living with a mental illness can severely affect everyday activities, from going to the shops to getting out of bed.
They can make an individual feel like the whole world is out to get them, or make them feel overwhelmed by their daily tasks to the point where it’s easier to just ignore them and stay at home.
I asked some of my Instagram followers about their mental illnesses- how they affect their everyday lives and what they do to combat bad days:
“When my mental health is acting up or very much preventing me from living my day to day life, there’s many things I cannot do. I have always wanted to do more water activities life surfing or kayaking however I have never been able to calm myself down or motivate myself to do it as I would constantly tell myself I’m not good enough, I’m too old or that I won’t know anyone. This relates to university as well, as I find it very hard to make friends, so consequently have suffered as I haven’t made many friends throughout my 3 years at university. This means I haven’t done many “normal” things. For example, I didn’t even go to a social event or a club until 3rd year.”
“Going to uni I would feel unmotivated and wouldn’t go. I would combat a bad day by being passive aggressive to others or sitting in bed all day. Moving to London affected me massively because people that know me know how close me and my mum are, so it was hard to know that she wouldn’t be there when I needed her. Bad day are 100% worse at university, it has made me feel the loneliest I have ever felt.”
“I’ve not been diagnosed with anyone but it does stop me from doing things…it’s like a voice inside my head telling me in not good enough, there’s people better off than me. I get trapped in cycles where I’m like “I need to go to this” but it’s too emotionally challenging so I settle for something easier. It can be hard to wake up on a morning if you’re in a rut, and it gets bad for your physical health. For me, I don’t eat till dinner…normally about 8 or 9, because it’s just not a priority, and I’ve noticed when I don’t eat, I don’t focus as much. To combat a bad day I ty and socialise because I hate being alone. I find it best to get things done in a group than solo… also I do the harder things in the morning so that they’re out of the way. I go on a lot of walks, to change the atmosphere I’m in as I like to explore, it clears the mind.”
“My mental health can either make me stop doing things I want to do completely or I just drag myself alone and I kind of feel like I’m not really there. I feel like if I do go on, I have to perform this whole thing of being happy even if I’m not. My mental health has stopped me going to gigs etc because I get really anxious about crowds and sometimes when I’ve pushed myself I end up not being allowed in or having a bad time because I’ve had a panic attack and cried. My mental health often means I don’t go to uni because the idea of getting up in the morning isn’t great, especially when I don’t get a lot of sleep anyway. I used to s*lf h*rm a lot to cope with bad days or drink etc.. but in the last couple of months I’ve decided to just rest if I need it. I don’t pressure myself to go to uni if I don’t want to. I make sure I shower everyday just so I feel like I’ve done something productive. I might watch films or just see if the girls want to go to central if I feel I want to get out the house. Sometimes we’ll just sit in one of our rooms and chat about things which is nice.”
“My mental health makes me nervous to do things alone, like even things as simple as going to the shops. It stops me from going to the shops and university – I feel like I’m going to embarrass myself when doing things on my own or that people are laughing at me. To combat bad days I try and eat foods I love, or cook or speak to my Mam. Bad days are 100% worse at university because I have no one here to help me. I struggle with being alone so being alone at university feels 10x worse. I also never want to seem like a burden to new friends/flat mates so I just don’t talk to anyone.”
“My mental health issues do stop me doing things I like to do a lot of the time. It gets in the way of university work for the most part, which isn’t ideal, but it also gets in the way of keeping up basic communication with my friends and family. Just even phoning or texting them becomes a chore. It stops me from socialising with people- I struggle to motivate myself to go and visit people or maintain a flowing conversation. As for the reason why, I guess it’s just this looming feeling of dread and fear that hangs over, making me feel a lack of any worth. Due to my mental health issues, I’ve also developed pretty bad insomnia, so they’ve stopped me from sleeping too. I usually combat bad days by listening to one of my favourite albums or playing one of my guitars, since the only thing I know I can find comfort in is music, especially playing it. Once I feel I’m in a calmer state of mind, I’ll have another go at conquering whatever task or challenge that was giving me so much anxiety!”