It’s okay not to be okay

It’s okay not to be okay - Square Blades

words by Eleanor Brinkhoff
photo by Finn on Unsplash

Through the tumultuous year that is 2020 few constants have remained, however one event that persisted was World Mental Health Day, observed on the 10th October.

The vast majority of us will have faced challenges during this pressing time with the World Health Organisation (WHO) predicting ‘the need for mental health and psycho-social support to substantially increase in the coming months and years.’

It is estimated around 1 in 5 adults have experienced some form of depression in June, almost double the rate prior to the pandemic. It is no surprise that the WHO is calling for a massive scale up in the investment in mental health services.

Whilst these services are still limited due to cutbacks, the onus of looking after one's mental wellbeing falls upon ourselves, and those around us, to ensure a high quality of life despite the current situation that we find ourselves in. Although not the sole answer, one proven way to achieve this is through physical activity.

Encouraging adolescents to engage in sports from a young age often leads to high levels of physical activity in adulthood, as well as a superior psychological well-being (as highlighted in a study conducted by Norwegian researchers). They also concluded that physical activity leads to lower likelihood of depressive symptoms with participants reporting higher levels of self-esteem. The same conclusions can be drawn for adult involvement in team sports, with those participating in any exercise type reporting a lower mental health burden.

These clear benefits highlight the importance of setting aside time to get the heart racing, and the blood flowing. Whether this be through a vigorous training programme, playing football in the park with friends, or yoga in the living room - exercise is a key ingredient to a secure mindset.

Equally imperative is vocalising one's thoughts and feelings to teammates and friends, as well as checking in with those around us and listening to their response.

The spectre of the second lockdown is looking down upon us. It's now, more than ever, time to reach out to your teammates, friends, and family and ask the simple question to start the essential conversation:

Are you okay?

Here are some links that you may find beneficial:

How to look after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
BBC: 5 Mental Health Tips for Lockdown
NHS: Local mental health charities
The Samaritans

Call The Samaritans (UK) free on 116123 - Whatever you're going through, a Samaritan will face it with you.

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