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​Mental Health Awareness Week: tackling stress in Southwark

Mental Health Awareness Week starts on 14 May and this year the focus is on stress. Around 16 million people are affected by poor mental health every year and stress often plays a key role in making things feel worse.

Stress can be defined as the degree to which you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of pressures that are unmanageable.

All sorts of situations can cause stress. Some of the most common involve work, money matters and relationships with partners, children or other family members. Stress may also be caused either by major upheavals and life events such as divorce, unemployment, moving house and bereavement, or by a series of minor irritations such as feeling undervalued at work. Sometimes there are no obvious causes. Some stress is normal but too much can be harmful.

Stress can lead to anxiety and depression and in Southwark, it is estimated that almost one in five adults are living with a common mental health issue like these. The numbers are likely to be higher if you are black, Asian or from a minority ethnic (BAME) group.

Dr Nancy Küchemann, Clinical Lead for Mental Health and Parity Esteem at NHS Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group said: "Physical health and mental health are often linked. For example, people recovering from a heart condition or cancer may also feel depressed.

"It is important that you protect yourself from the impact of stress by looking after your physical health such as getting a good night's sleep, maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly."

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) is now available to Southwark residents. People can be referred to by their GP or self-refer themselves if they are experiencing stress, low mood or anxiety. It offers practical advice about simple measures people can take to improve mental health and wellbeing.

For more details on accessing mental health support through the NHS, click here