World Mental Health Day takes place on 10th October 2023. Founded by the World Federation for Mental Health, this year will be the 75th anniversary of the campaign.
The theme for 2023 is ‘Mental health is a universal human right’ and event supporters including the World Health Organisation (WHO) want to bring people and communities together to improve knowledge, raise awareness and drive actions that promote and protect mental health.
Organisers want to highlight that everyone has the right to the highest attainable standard of mental health. This includes being protected from mental health risks and having access to quality mental health care.
Mental health in Ireland
Mental Health Ireland have highlighted a report entitled ‘Health at a Glance’, which found that Ireland has one of the highest rates of mental health illness in Europe with 18.5% of the population recorded as having a mental health illness such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, or alcohol/drug misuse.
A survey conducted by the foundation also discovered that women are more likely to have lower wellbeing scores compared to men.
A separate study carried out by the Government of Ireland estimated that one in four people in Ireland will experience mental health problems at some point in their lifetime.
In addition to this, the Irish Public Health Department found that more than 450,000 people experience depression in Ireland at any one time, and one in 20 over the age of 50 report having a doctor’s diagnosis of depression.
Mental health and substance misuse
Whatever the cause, mental health conditions can be hugely challenging. One serious consequence is that many people turn to using drugs and/or alcohol as a coping mechanism.
Although drinking alcohol or taking recreational drugs might feel like the right decision when you’re struggling with mental health, many substances can make the situation worse.
Furthermore, certain substances can contribute to a person developing a mental health problem when they may not have had one before.
Every person responds to drugs differently, and there are many factors that contribute to your experience of using drugs (including alcohol), such as where you are when you take them, how much you consume, and your mental state at the time.
Whatever a person’s reasons for taking drugs or drinking alcohol to excess, the fact remains that a dependence on drugs or alcohol can negatively impact a person’s day-to-day life in many ways. This includes everything from creating financial issues and debt to the impact on personal relationships, all of which can make a mental health condition even worse.
What are the signs that someone is abusing alcohol or drugs?
It’s important to remember that just because you suspect a person is abusing alcohol or drugs, it does not necessarily mean that they are.
Some of the signs and symptoms of drug or alcohol abuse can also indicate that they may be struggling with their mental health or an underlying medical condition.
Whatever the real cause, if you have suspicions that a family member, friend, or colleague may be struggling with substance abuse, it’s important to approach the conversation from a position of concern, and not to be accusatory or judgemental.
Here are some of the signs you can look out for if you suspect that someone you know may be abusing drugs:
- Slurred speech
- Persistent itching in one area of the body
- Weight changes
- Lack of interest in appearance or personal grooming
- Mood swings
- Reclusive behaviour
- Loss of interest in hobbies or social events
- Erratic or impulsive behaviour
And here are some of the signs to watch out for if you are worried that someone you know is struggling with alcohol dependency:
- Prioritising drinking above all else, even when it is having a detrimental impact on their daily life
- Lack of concentration
- Reduced productivity, including at work
- Drinking at all times of the day such as the morning or lunchtime
- Behavioural changes such as irritability, mood swings or uncharacteristically aggressive behaviour
- Memory loss because of drinking
- Risk taking, such as driving a car while over the limit
- Weight changes
Drug and alcohol testing you can trust
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