April is Stress Awareness Month, and Our Healthier South East London (OHSEL) is advising people of the support available to ease the pressure.
Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures of stress.
Millions of people in the UK are experiencing high levels of stress, which is damaging to our health. The impact of stress on our mental health is one of the great public health challenges of our time, but many don’t take the problem as seriously as physical health concerns.
Stress is a significant factor in mental health problems including anxiety and depression. It is also linked to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia and digestive problems.
Dr Nancy Kuchemann, GP and Clinical Lead for Mental Health for OHSEL, said: “It’s perfectly normal to experience day-to day stress, but if the stress is long-term and unresolved, it can be harmful.”
Dr Kuchemann explained: “With the conflict in Ukraine, and the Covid pandemic, the headlines are making many people feel anxious due to circumstances beyond their control.
“And on top of that, a sharp rise in the cost of living is impacting many households in south east London, so it’s little wonder people are feeling stressed.”
Dr Kuchemann added: “But if you’re feeling stressed, help is available for you – whatever your age or background. If stress is recognised and tackled, it’s possible to avoid its more damaging consequences, enabling the person affected to lead a happier – and healthier – life.”
In south east London, young people can receive support from Kooth – the UK’s leading provider of digital mental health support. Anyone from the ages of 10 to 25 can access mental wellbeing support via Kooth – a free and anonymous online mental health and emotional wellbeing service.
Young people can obtain free counselling sessions from qualified practitioners via an online chat-based platform. Chats can either be accessed through a drop-in service or pre-booked sessions from any connected device. The site is open 24 hours a day and one-to-one counselling sessions with a member of the Kooth team are available from 12-noon until 10pm on weekdays, and from 6pm until 10pm on weekends.
Kooth is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and is available online, offering free and safe access to self-help materials, mood-tracking, online journal and goal setting tools and a moderated online community of peers.
Adults in south east London can receive support for stress by visiting the Free Your Mind hub, which gives advice on improving mental health and how to obtain professional support.
Many people may benefit from talking therapies – free services for south east Londoners designed to coach people to better mental wellbeing. Qualified healthcare professionals can give support.
The site also gives information on the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’, the importance of tackling emotional health problems and advice on accessing emergency help.
Dr Kuchemann said: “It’s tempting to ignore stress or adopt unhealthy behaviour such as using alcohol or cigarettes as a crutch, but this only makes matters worse, adding to existing stress and anxiety in the long-term.
“But by acknowledging the stress and getting support and advice from others, it’s possible to tackle problems in a healthy and practical way.”
Dr Kuchemann added: “Everyone experiences stress, so you’re not alone. Help is available for all people of all ages in south east London, and we want those who are experiencing stress to access support.”