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Mental Health Awareness Week 2023

Mental Health Awareness Week is from the 15th - 21st of May 2023, the theme for this year is 'anxiety'. Here we’re getting involved by sharing some important resources on how to manage anxiety especially around deadlines!

All over the country, people will be taking part in the ‘Wear it Green’ Day on Thursday 18th of May in support of the Mental Health Foundation, as well as doing some other amazing fundraising events too! Check out the Mental Health Foundation website for more resources and see how you can get involved this year.

Here's what the Mental Health Foundation have written about this year's theme:

"Anxiety is a normal emotion in us all, but sometimes it can get out of control and become a mental health problem.

Lots of things can lead to feelings of anxiety, including exam pressures, relationships, starting a new job (or losing one) or other big life events. We can also get anxious when it comes to things to do with money and not being able to meet our basic needs, like heating our home or buying food.

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems we can face. In a recent mental health survey the Mental Health Foundation carried out around stress, anxiety and hopelessness over personal finances, a quarter of adults said they felt so anxious that it stopped them from doing the things they want to do some or all of the time. Six in ten adults feel this way, at least some of the time. On a positive note, anxiety can be made easier to manage.

Focusing on anxiety for this year's Mental Health Awareness Week will increase people's awareness and understanding of anxiety by providing information on the things that can help prevent it from becoming a problem. At the same time, we will keep up the pressure to demand change - making sure that improving mental health is a key priority for the government and society as a whole."


5 Ways To Help Manage Anxiety

At Leeds Arts Union, we're getting involved by sharing our top self-help tools on ways you can manage anxiety! This blog post was inspired by this year's Mental Health Foundation theme of 'anxiety' along with Mind's top tips on self-care for anxiety. You can have a read through the article here 'Self-care for Anxiety & Panic Attacks' or check out the Mind website for more information.

Use the hashtag #ToHelpMyAnxiety to raise awareness of anxiety and follow them on Instagram @MentalHealthFoundation to show your support!

1. Keep a diary

Creating a log of how you're feeling on a daily basis can be a great way to offload any worries or thoughts that may be occupying your mind. Getting your thoughts down on paper helps to make sense of what is going on both internally and externally, as it helps to bring clarity on how you're actually feeling. This technique enables you to spot patterns and behaviours that might trigger your anxiety, so you are able to take back control and regulate your nervous system before symptoms of anxiety worsen.

Top tip: If you struggle to keep a written diary, why not try keeping a photo diary of all the things you have achieved during the day? Before you go to bed you can reflect and look back at your achievements for the day!

2. Try breathing exercises

Practising mindfulness along with some breathing exercises can make significant changes to your mental health. Taking time out of your day to turn inward can radically change your perspective, and finding moments of stillness can bring feelings of calm and peace into your busy day. Implementing small changes such as this can build up your resilience and can allow you to navigate uncertain times without feeling overwhelmed.

Have you tried the 4-7-8 breathing technique?

Find a comfortable position that suits you and your body's needs, this could be laying down on the floor or sitting upright on a chair whatever works for you. Breathe in for a count of 4 seconds, hold your breath for a count of 7 seconds, and exhale the breath for a count of 8 seconds.

A recent study published in 2022, has shown that practising the 4-7-8 breathing technique can have a multitude of health benefits, such as slowing down your heart rate, lowers blood pressure and can even reduce your blood sugar levels.

3. Look after your physical health

Moving your body on a regular basis will not only keep you fit and healthy but it also exercises your mind too. When we exercise we naturally release endorphins which are the 'feel good hormones', this helps boost our mood! That's why after an uplifting yoga session you have a spring in your step and feel more ready to take on the world.

Did you know: That exercising moving your body helps move your body out of its 'fight or flight' response which is part of the body's sympathetic nervous, a simple 10-minute walk can activate your parasympathetic nervous system which enables your body's natural 'rest and digest' state.

4. Talk to someone you trust

If feelings of anxiety are arising more frequently than usual try talking to someone you trust, this could be a friend, a family member, or a course mate. Opening up to somebody else helps us to feel and know that we're not alone when experiencing mental health difficulties. It's important to speak to someone you trust because creating a safe space where you feel valued and respected is vital to holding important conversations surrounding your mental health.

You know how the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved! It's important to be honest about how we're feeling on the inside, so the people around us are able to help and provide the right support.

5. Try peer support groups

Joining a peer support group can also be beneficial to your mental health, being supported by others in shared and controlled space. Surrounding yourself with other people who are also facing difficulties with their mental health can be incredibly vital to supporting your mental health journey. The Student Welfare Team offer Art Therapy Groups throughout the academic year, keep an eye out for when the next sessions start up again!

Why join an Art Therapy Group?

Art Psychotherapy can help many people express and reflect on difficult emotions and experiences that can be challenging to identify and articulate with words. Helping to communicate non-verbal states of experience by expressing them visually before opening up a dialogue.

For more information check out the LAU Welfare Portal and follow @LAUStudentWelfare on Instagram for further updates!


LAU Student Welfare Team

If you do need extra support with your mental health, please know that we are here to support you in the Students' Union! We can offer a friendly chat along with some low-level talk support and if you need further guidance, just pop in! The Student Welfare Team are also on hand for any advice or guidance and are always happy to help!

Please know that the Student Welfare team is not an emergency or crisis service. We try to offer appointments as quickly as we can, but we can’t guarantee it will be immediate. If you feel you need to speak to someone sooner and are concerned about your health or well-being, it is important that you contact your GP or NHS (111) for advice. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need some ways of coping while you wait for the help you need, you may find the information and guidance on the Mind Urgent Help Pages useful.

You can find more information about mental health support at university via E-Studio or visit the LAU Welfare Portal to book an appointment with a Mental Health Advisor. Alternatively, you can always speak to a tutor or pop into the Students' Union, if you are unsure and we can point you in the right direction of who would be the best department and/or service to get in touch with.

Listed below are some external services that may be helpful to reach out for further support:

Student Minds

Student Minds empower students and members of the university community to look after their own mental health, support others and create change. Together we will transform the state of student mental health so that all in higher education can thrive. Find out more about what we do.

Leeds Mind

Leeds Mind promotes positive mental health and wellbeing, and provides help and support to anyone who needs it in and around Leeds. We offer many services, including: counselling, peer support, social prescribing, employment support, suicide bereavement support, creative wellbeing activities, mental health training and more.


Togetherall is a clinically managed, online community designed to improve mental health. Our platform provides anonymous, peer-to-peer interactions so that as many people as possible can benefit from instant, easy-access and round-the-clock support when they need it.


We hope you found some helpful resources within this blog post and maybe some new ways to manage anxious thoughts/feelings. But if you are struggling with your mental health and would like to speak to someone, please reach out to any of the support services listed above.

Follow us on Instagram @LeedsArtsUnion for more posts about Mental Health Awareness Week and use the hashtag #ToHelpMyAnxiety to share your top tips on what helps you when you're feeling anxious.


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