A new study has revealed over 24 million Brits self-medicate with alcohol and drugs in order to cope with mental health symptoms.
Although conversations around mental health are more common and encouraged than ever, LifeSearch claims millions of people are still turning to self-medication as a way to relieve anxiety, insomnia and depression.
The study, conducted by LifeSearch, found one in five Brits currently use over the counter medication, alcohol or drugs to help them cope while others rely on gambling, sex, food or spending.
38 per cent of Brits use exercise to maintain their mental wellbeing, but even that hobby had its issues as one in 10 were found to exercise to excess.
For women, the most common form of self-medication came in the form of food – or lack of food – as 61 per cent currently use over- or under-eating to cope with mental health issues.
While self-medication might offer some relief from mental health struggles, relying too strongly on drugs or alcohol can become an issue. In fact, the study found half of those who rely on self-medication said the behaviour has become a problem.
We asked whether there are mental health issues in the family. 15% said 'I don't know’. Let's Start Talking? 🧠 Find out more @ https://t.co/BQjaGcqpCF #LetsStartTalking #ProtectTheLifeYouLove #LifeSearch pic.twitter.com/7kUlL3sI38
— LifeSearch (@LifeSearch) March 21, 2019
According to Metro, Emma Walker, from LifeSearch, spoke about the findings, saying:
While awareness of mental health is higher than it’s ever been, we’re seeing a gap between understanding and action.
Many people don’t realise that their relationship with things like alcohol, drugs and exercise can be tightly related to their mental wellness and, alarmingly, when they do they can be too afraid to talk about it.
Often, using a coping mechanism like alcohol or drugs seems like the easy way out, however it doesn’t solve the issue at hand.
The research showed one in three people self-medicate to help get a sense of control over their mental health, while one in five say they don’t have anyone to talk to about their issues.
Swerving meeting your issues head-on or avoiding speaking the truth can have severe long-term implications, causing heartache for our loved ones later on.
Mental ill-health shouldn’t be a barrier when it comes to safeguarding yourself and your family’s future – and it all starts with one open, honest conversation.
We know that this is easier said than done, but we hope that we can inspire people to have those conversations.
We challenged you to start talking in March. Now we’re asking you to talk all things mental health.Check out: https://t.co/B1bBC09CK3 for more on #MentalHealth and #SelfMedicating. #LetsStartTalking #LifeSearch #ProtectTheLifeYouLove pic.twitter.com/YGWFaMD84E
— LifeSearch (@LifeSearch) May 30, 2019
In response to the study, LifeSearch are urging people to confide in others about their issues, rather than trying to cope alone. The company has launched a Let’s Start Talking campaign, which aims to encourage Brits to engage in conversations about mental health, even if some may consider the topic uncomfortable.
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58, and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.