This Sunday (10th October) is World Mental Health Day and the theme for 2021 is ‘Mental Health In An Unequal World’. The aim for this theme is to highlight that access to mental health services is still not equal, with a shocking 75% to 95% of those with mental disorders in low and middle-income countries unable to access services at all, and access in high income countries isn’t much better. A lack of funding in mental health in compared to the overall health budget is a major factor in the mental health treatment gap.

Last year highlighted inequalities as a result of race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and the lack of respect for human rights in a lot of countries, including those suffering with mental health issues. These equalities unsurprisingly take a toll on people’s mental health.

Many people who suffer with a mental illness don’t receive the treatment that they need and deserve, and in turn continue to experience stigma and discrimination. Not only does it affect their physical and mental health, but stigma also affects their educational opportunities, current and future earnings and job prospects, and it also impacts their families and loved ones.

So how can you look after your mental health? There are many things you can do to improve and protect your wellness elements:

  1. Share how you feel

A problem shared is a problem halved. Talking is a great way to cope with your worries and stresses, and it will make you feel more supported and less alone. (Emotional Wellness and Social Wellness)

  1. Exercise regularly

Physical activity releases feel good chemicals in your brain. Try and aim for at least half an hour of exercise five times a week. (Physical Wellness)

  1. Eat well

There is a clear link between our mood and diet. Our brain needs lots of vitamins and nutrients to function well. Try and limit your sugar intake and caffeine and eat lots of fruit and vegetables, whole grains like cereals or bread, protein, nuts and seeds and of course plenty of water! (Physical Wellness)

  1. Watch your alcohol intake

Many people use alcohol to self medicate and feel better, however in the long run it can make our mood a lot worse. Stick to the recommended alcohol limit of 14 units a week which is the equivalent of 6 pints of low-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine. (Physical Wellness, Emotional Wellness)

  1. Keep in contact with your loved ones

Social interaction is so important for our mental health as family and friends can help you deal with the stresses of life. (Social Wellness)

  1. Reach out for help

Whatever you’re worried or stressed about, there will be someone to help you. For example if you’re concerned about money you can call Citizens Advice Bureau for advice. There are also options such as joining a support group or finding a counsellor. (Financial Wellness, Emotional Wellness)

  1. Schedule time for self care

Taking time for yourself is essential for your mental health. This could be a 20 minute yoga flow, half an hour to read your book or an evening in front of the TV. (Emotional Wellness)

  1. Do something that you enjoy

Having fun is a great stress buster. Focus on a hobby like drawing or gardening – it can distract you from your worries for a while. (Intellectual Wellness, Emotional Wellness).

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