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Make the most of May!

Here's what's going on in the world of health campaigns this May.

May has many great opportunities for pharmacy teams to get involved in health campaigns and help raise awareness about some serious conditions, especially mental health

Mental Health Awareness Week: 9-15 May

Run annually by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), 2022’s Mental Health Awareness Week will run from 9-15 May. Every year, the week serves as an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. Since its inception in 2000, the event has become one of the biggest awareness weeks across the UK and globally.   

This years’ theme is loneliness, a key driver for poor mental health and something that has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The week will raise awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental wellbeing and the practical steps we can take to address it. "Reducing loneliness is a major step towards a mentally healthy society," says the Foundation. 

“Loneliness is affecting more and more of us in the UK and has had a huge impact on our physical and mental health during the pandemic. That is why we have chosen it as our theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2022,” explains Mark Rowland, chief executive of the MHF. “Our connection to other people and our community is fundamental to protecting our mental health so we must find better ways of tackling the epidemic of loneliness.”

A survey conducted by the charity Rethink found that 88 per cent of people severely affected by mental illness said that discrimination towards them is widespread in England. Whilst levels of awareness about common mental health conditions have improved, there is still a long way to go in reducing stigma, and pharmacy teams can play a crucial part in that. 

The charity, Mental Health UK, who are also taking part in the week are asking organisations, including pharmacies, to consider their ‘unique contribution’ in tackling loneliness, isolation and the barriers to connection. Their four-step checklist offers ways to get involved: 

  1. Raise awareness – help people to understand the links between loneliness and poor mental health and actively check in on those around you
  2. Invite conversations
  3. Volunteer your time
  4. Ask others to act – raise these issues within your community and encourage people to act. 

"We can all play a part in this," adds Mark. "The week is also an invaluable opportunity for people to talk about all aspects of mental health, with a focus on providing help and advice."

For more resources, including how to talk about mental health at work, conversation guides, podcasts and more, visit the Mental Health UK website. You can also stay up to date with all the work the charity is doing is on Twitter @mentalhealth and Facebook @mentalhealthfoundation or under the hashtag #MHAW or #LetsGetSerious. 

Dementia Awareness Week: 16-22 May

The older population are often among those who feel the loneliest in our society and none more so than those who are suffering from any form of dementia. Dementia Awareness week is charity Alzheimer’s Society’s biggest and longest awareness campaign to encourage people to act on dementia. 

This year, the campaign will run from 16-22 May with the theme of diagnosis. With diagnosis rates falling to a five-year low, the charity wants to encourage those who might be living with undiagnosed dementia to seek guidance and support so they can feel empowered to take the next step and get a diagnosis from their doctor. 

Whilst this can be scary, 91 per cent of people affected by dementia believe it’s better to know their diagnosis. This Dementia Action Week, pharmacy teams should encourage those who might be living with, or might be close to someone living with undiagnosed dementia to be able to understand and recognise potential symptoms and improve the diagnosis process for both themselves and healthcare professionals. 

Resources will be made available on the Alzheimer’s Society website from the middle of April. If any customer is worried about their memory, staff can direct them to: 

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