Mental health is no longer a taboo topic, people are no longer afraid of talking about it, and it is now very much in the forefront of our modern culture’s psyche and it’s great. A lot of this is down to a number of courageous people with the public eye: actors, musicians, artists and even royalty, coming forward to discuss their own personal battles, how they were able to overcome and manage their mental illnesses to lead incredible lives; and in many cases, how their battles have made them even better than they were before! 

However, despite all of these amazing strides forward and the openness of mental health within the wider communities, recognising you have a mental health issue, and more importantly seeking help for a mental health issue, is still one of the toughest things for an individual to do – something I can personally vouch for. 

Like 1 in 7.8 people in the UK, I suffer with mixed anxiety and depression. Interestingly enough, more people suffer with mental health than asthma (1 in 12 adults), diabetes (1 in 16) and even the UK’s most common form of cancer – breast cancer (1 in 8).

For the last couple of years, I have been successfully managing my mental health (minus the occasional hiccup), and have had some of the best times both personally and professionally now that I am back in control of my mental health. In the couple of years prior to this, I very much struggled with balancing my anxieties and depression, the main problem being that I wasn’t identifying that my version of work stress, and my various of a crappy day, were far heavier and much darker than any of my friends or colleagues’ crappy days. 

Unlike physical illnesses, mental health concerns manifest themselves in many different forms, and it can be very hard to identify symptoms, especially when your symptoms present in very ‘low and slow’ ways. However, according to Aspire’s chosen charity of 2017 Mind, here are the things you should be looking out for, and if they persist, it's worth speaking to your doctor:

• Feeling down, upset or tearful, restless agitated or irritable• Guilty, worthless, no self confidence• Empty/ numb and isolated• Lack of sleep, exhaustion • feeling tense, nervous or unable to relax• having a sense of dread, or fearing the worst• worrying about anxiety itself, for example worrying about when panic attacks might happen• wanting lots of reassurance from other people or worrying that people are angry or upset with you• worrying that you're losing touch with reality

Please note that these are merely a handful of symptoms in a much larger sea of potential symptoms. If you are experiencing any of the above, or have concerns that you might be suffering with a mental health issue, please consult your doctor or seek medical advice as soon as you possible. In the meantime, Mind are a fantastic source of information, support and advice to help you take care of your mental health. 

Mind’s website is the quickest, and best source of information:

 https://www.mind.org.uk/

It took me two years to finally recognise my mental health was in fact very unhealthy and that I needed to seek help. For me it was a mix of it slowly getting worse and worse, and then being too afraid to ask for help. It was in fact my wonderful mother who took me to one side and pointed out that I needed help and actually booked my doctor appointment – the first time in 10 years! Then with the fantastic support of my family, friends, colleagues and of course the brilliant NHS, I am now able to sit here and confidently and comfortably talk to you about it.