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Mental health awareness week

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. However what can begin as normal, everyday worries, can develop into something more serious, like a panic, phobia, or obsessional disorder.

This year's theme for mental health awareness week (12-18 May) is anxiety, one of the leading causes of mental ill-health in the world.

In the UK the number of cases of anxiety is growing, with over 8million people diagnosed in 2010. The media often focuses on physical health and the importance of a healthy lifestyle in preventing physical disease, but it is rare anyone talks about the ways in which we can promote a healthy mind and manage anxiety more effectively - before it seriously harms our mental wellbeing.

Dr Jonty Heaversedge, Southwark GP said: "1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression in their lifetime and there are many steps you can take to help you look after your mental health."

He added: "It is important to get the basics right. By eating well and taking regular exercise you could help reduce your anxiety levels.  You can also ask your GP for advice. There are many local health services and support groups across the borough, so it's vital to ask for help when you need it." 

Here are a few other tips on how to maintain a healthy mind and body:

10 ways to look after your mental health:

  1. Keep active - regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate, sleep, look and feel better.
  2. Talk about your feelings - just sharing your cares and hopes with someone can be great for your own wellbeing.
  3. Eat well - food can have a long-lasting effect on your mental health. Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function well.
  4. Drink sensibly - drinking is not a good way to manage difficult feelings and can often make a tough situation worse. Replace that cocktail with a mocktail!
  5. Keep in touch with friends and loved ones - they can offer different views, help keep you active and help to solve practical problems.
  6. Ask for help - don't go it alone! Talk to your GP about what services and support are available in your area or go to
  7. Take a break - a change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health.
  8. Do something you are good at - concentrating on a hobby like gardening or the crossword can help you forget your worries for a while and change your mood.
  9. Accept who you are - recognise and be proud of all that you have achieved. After all, there is only one of you! 
  10. Care for others - helping others can make us feel needed and valued and that boosts our self-esteem.

For more information on mental health services go to NHS Choices at