Alcohol Awareness Week: Speaking up about alcohol and mental health

It’s been a difficult year for everyone and it’s not set to get any easier. 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.

This is a worrying trend that is growing. The Royal College of Psychiatrists estimates that in June, more than 8.4 million people in England were drinking at higher-risk levels, up from 4.8 million in February 2020.

So this week Frome Medical Practice is taking part in Alcohol Awareness Week – led by Alcohol Change UK  – to raise awareness of the link between alcohol and mental health, to speak out about the issues and the stigma surrounding this, and encourage anyone who is struggling to seek the support they deserve.

Dr Helen Kingston, Senior Partner at the practice, said, “We know that people are under an enormous amount of stress at the moment, and many are experiencing anxiety as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We recognise that people might turn to alcohol to try and alleviate such feelings. But we also know that alcohol itself is a depressant and so it can often make how we feel worse, as well as impacting on our physical health.”

“The good news is that being in control of our drinking can improve how we feel and there are plenty of techniques available for taking control if your drinking has got a bit out of hand.”

Suggestions of support include:

  • The Try Dry App helps you meet goals, whether you want to cut down on your alcohol drinking or stop it completely.
  • Information on coronavirus, alcohol and looking after your mental wellbeing is available on the Alcohol Change UK website
  • Information on support for people living in Somerset who are concerned about their alcohol use is available here.

Published: Nov 18, 2020