We’re often too preoccupied with getting through the day to give mental health the attention it needs. However, we’re starting to understand that taking care of our mental health is essential to our wellbeing and survival.
For Mental Health Awareness Week (14th-20th May) this year, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) focussed on one of the biggest drivers behind the rise of mental ill health: stress.
Stress is a normal survival response that keeps us safe in situations we can’t control, but this response is being increasingly triggering in our modern-day lives, which takes its toll on our bodies as a phenomenon called allostatic overload.
Results of the MHF's 2018 study indicated that in the past year, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope.1 Click here for more mental health stats from the study.
During Mental Health Awareness Week, Solaris Health took part in MHF’s new Curry & Chaat fundraising initiative. Following on from the MHF’s successful Tea & Talk format which brings people together to talk about mental health, Curry & Chaat seeks to reach a larger audience by appealing to more men – particularly those under 45, for whom suicide is well documented as the biggest killer.
We organised our own Curry & Chaat lunch event, with several staff members keen to cook up their favourite curry dishes. To make things more competitive, people made donations against their favourite dishes, with the winning dish being the one with the largest total donated, and its creator receiving the coveted Solaris Stress Helper Hamper – a gift package full of helpful stress relieving items.
The office was filled with the delicious aromas of seven authentic dishes that were entered for the chance to win. They ranged from mild aromatic delights, to hot and spicy indulgences, and represented cuisines from around the world,, each cooked to perfection.
Altogether, we managed to raise £118 for the MHF, with ‘Patel’s Piquant Paneer’, by Dipesh Patel, claiming the title of ‘best dish’.
Initiating a conversation about mental health can be daunting, but being able to relax and socialise with others over good food can help open up the doors to talking about this sensitive topic.
Second-hand stress was a key topic of discussion for us and, after some debate, it was decided that the best way to improve our mental health in the office was by playing with our office dogs: Simon and Rosie.
This event truly brought mental health concerns to the fore; made it possible for people to see that talking about it doesn’t need to be scary; and helped build and strengthen relationships between colleagues. It served as a great platform for raising awareness of mental health and raising money for the MHF.
Try using the MHF’s stress test to measure the stress in your life, and learn more about stress and how to cope.
Mental Health Foundation (May 2018). Stress: Are we coping? (available at https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/