People who suffer from anxiety often feel alone because it’s not an easy illness to talk about. The mere thought of sharing the experience of living with a mental health condition can, in itself, be extremely unsettling and induce feelings of anxiety or panic.
This week a superb hashtag was created by a mental health charity employee and it’s providing comfort and support to hundreds of Twitter users.
Laura Whitehurst, training and partnerships co-ordinator at Anxiety UK, initially came up with #HighFiveForAnxiety as a way of dealing with her own feelings of anxiety.
“My own personal anxiety wasn’t that great yesterday — mostly because our systems had crashed and I couldn’t get on with my work,” Whitehurst told HuffPost UK Lifestyle. “So I decided to spread some love and positivity on Twitter, for #charitytuesday. I decided to start a #highfiveforanxiety campaign because sometimes, when you’re struggling, all you really want is for someone to say: ‘Hey, you’re doing great, hang in there, I’m rooting for you’ and that’s what the high five stands for.”
Not long after Whitehurst tweeted the first #HighFiveForAnxiety post, Twitter users started sharing their own high fives to show that anxiety can affect people from all walks of life and is nothing to be ashamed of.
— Maybe it's Martyn… (@El_Martino) September 23, 2015
— #HelloMyNameIs Nicki (@nurse_hag) September 23, 2015
— Sofia Osborne (@Nyratmai) September 23, 2015
A recent poll carried out by mental health charity Mind found that 18 to 34-year-olds are more likely to feel that showing their emotions is a sign of weakness than older people. Too many people are putting on a brave face when they are anxious, says the charity, and they need to know that it’s OK to cry. In fact Mind says crying is a “useful response” to dealing with anxiety.
A worrying finding from the poll is that only half of those asked agreed that anxiety could be a mental health problem. This is despite nearly one in 20 people currently experiencing anxiety on its own and one in 10 having mixed anxiety and depression, reveals the charity.
In 2014/15 alone Mind received 6,087 calls about anxiety and panic attacks, which accounted for nearly one in six of all calls, making anxiety level with depression as the most common reason for calls to the charity’s Infoline.
Anxiety UK identifies as a user-led organisation, meaning all of its employees suffer from anxiety. For more information visit the website or call the information line on 08444 775 774 (open Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.)
Call the Mind Infoline on 0300 123 3393 or text 86463 (open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.)