Alcohol Awareness Week: Speaking up about alcohol and mental health
It’s been a difficult year for people across the UK. A poll released earlier this year from Alcohol Change UK showed that more than a quarter (28%) of people who have ever drunk alcohol think they have been drinking more during lockdown. And as lockdown eased over the summer, two in three (66%) expected to continue drinking as they had been during lockdown (49%), or even drink more (17%).
What’s more one in five (19%) of those surveyed said they had drunk alcohol as a way to handle stress or anxiety during lockdown. Of those who drank more heavily during lockdown (nine plus units on each drinking day), 40% had drunk as a response to stress or anxiety.
In 2019 it was estimated that about a third of adults in Hackney are drinking above low-risk levels. It has also been estimated that almost 2 adults out of every 100 in Hackney are dependent on alcohol, across England this is only 1.35 out of 100.
So this week Hackney Council will be joining 3,000 other Councils and community groups across the UK for Alcohol Awareness Week to raise awareness of the link between alcohol and mental health, to speak out about the issues and the stigma surrounding them, and encourage anyone who is struggling to seek the support they deserve.
Alcohol Awareness Week aims to get people thinking and talking about alcohol, to motivate change at every level – individual, community and national.
The pandemic has put us all under stress, and for some that has meant an increase to our drinking to try and cope. The sad truth is that drinking too much can worsen or even cause anxiety and depression. If you are worried about drinking too much or if you feel that alcohol may be having an impact on your mental health, making small changes to your drinking could help you feel better. Making the first few days of the week alcohol-free has improved my own quality of life. I would urge all people in Hackney to check their drinking levels and make a change for alcohol awareness week by cutting down on drinking.
Many of us are under an unbelievable amount of stress due to the coronavirus pandemic. We’re seeing that those of us who are drinking more heavily are at real risk of worsening our mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, along with many other health conditions, as we turn to alcohol to cope. The good news is that being in control of our drinking can improve our mental health, and there are plenty of techniques out there for taking control if your drinking has got a bit out of hand, including our free Try Dry app.
Alcohol Awareness Week provides an important opportunity for us all to:
- talk about the issues around alcohol and mental health, helping us make more informed choices about our drinking
- tackle the stigma associated with drinking, which can be significantly worse for those struggling with mental health problems as well as drinking problems
- call for action to help those most in need, including the 200,000 children living with an alcohol-dependent parent or carer
- help those struggling to seek support
With drinking among heavier drinkers on the rise, Hackney is joining this year’s UK-wide Alcohol Awareness Week campaign to raise awareness of the links between alcohol and mental health. For help locally visit hackney.gov.uk/alcohol-support.
If you are worried about your own or someone else’s drinking you can speak to your GP or call Drinkline, a free, confidential helpline for people who are concerned about their drinking, or somebody else’s, on 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am-8pm, weekends 11am-4pm).
The City and Hackney Integrated Substance Misuse service recognises this important link between mental health and alcohol use, and offers joint packages of support from Turning Point (a leading national substance misuse charity), MIND City, Hackney and Waltham Forest, and Antidote (a leading LGBTQIA+ charity). For more information please go to: https://www.turning-point.co.uk/services/city-hackney or call: 0345 144 0050.
Young Hackney Substance Misuse Service provides an holistic, bespoke service to young people in City and Hackney struggling with their alcohol use, they also specialise in providing support to young people where parents are struggling with their alcohol use, for more information please visit: https://www.younghackney.org/advice/drugs-alcohol/young-hackney-substance-misuse-service/ or call: 0208 356 7377.
Take part in and find out more information about this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week by visiting the Alcohol Change UK website.