The government wants to help banish the “Sunday Scaries” through a personalised mind plan that enables people manage their anxiety
“My focus is on making sure people can get the care they need, when they need it – and that includes for their mental wellbeing. The Every Mind Matters tool is a great way to build your mental resilience and help ward off the anxiety many of us feel on a Sunday.” Thérèse Coffey, secretary of state for health and social care
A new campaign launched by the government’s Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) is urging people to “be kind to your mind.”
The campaign is calling on people to do small things that can make a big difference to their mental wellbeing and directs them to free tips and advice.
New research commissioned by OHID shows that two-thirds of people in Britain report experiencing the “Sunday Scaries” – or what psychologists call “heightened anticipatory anxiety” – in response to work stress, lack of sleep and looming to-do lists at the start of the working week. The proportion increased to three-quarters for those aged 18 to 24.
The “Sunday Scaries”, the government says, have been shown to peak just after 5pm. Google searches relating to sadness spike on a Sunday as people turn to the internet for help, while searches for “trouble sleeping” are at their highest on a Monday.
OHID says that by answering five simple questions through the Every Mind Matters website, people can receive a personalised “mind plan” giving tips to help deal with stress and anxiety.
The secretary of state for health and social care, Thérèse Coffey, said: “My focus is on making sure people can get the care they need, when they need it – and that includes for their mental wellbeing. The Every Mind Matters tool is a great way to build your mental resilience and help ward off the anxiety many of us feel on a Sunday.”
The campaign is backed by celebrities such as BBC Radio 1 host Vick Hope, television personality Scarlett Moffatt and pop star Tom Grennan and the psychologist Kimberley Wilson.
Wilson said: “These ‘distraction’ habits can actually exacerbate the problem. It’s so important to enjoy every last minute of your weekend and start the week in the best frame of mind.
“If you experience the Sunday Scaries like clockwork every week or feel sad or anxious, try getting active, which can help you to burn off nervous energy, writing down or keeping a diary of what you are doing and how you feel at different times to help identify what’s causing anxiety and what you need to do to help manage it. Small things can make a big difference to our mental wellbeing.”
The NHS Confederation, which represents NHS leaders, said it welcomed the initiative but ministers needed to go “much further” if they genuinely wanted to improve the nation’s mental health. Sean Duggan, chief executive of the NHS Confederation’s mental health network, said: “The previous government had committed to publishing a 10-year plan for mental health. However, mental health is worryingly absent from the new secretary of state’s ‘ABCD’ priority list for the NHS.”
Pressure on mental health services is now at unprecedented levels (a familiar state for many services in the current context of the sector). While the Be Kind to your Mind campaign, with its emphasis on educating people in the use of self-help techniques to improve wellbeing, is a step in the right direction, the government must address the bigger issue of waiting lists of three months or more for treatment. As we saw in another story this week, many people with serious mental health problems are self-referring to A&E or dialling 999 rather than wait any longer for treatment. Self-care is important, but it is not a panacea.