Spotlight on stress for Mental Health Awareness Week

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Monday, May 14th, 2018

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the Public Health Agency (PHA) is using it as an opportunity to raise awareness about stress and the steps we can take to tackle it.

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 14-21 May and this year shines a spotlight on how we can learn to manage stress better.



Experiencing stress is a normal part of everyday life – for example, dealing with changing demands and pressures from different areas in our lives, such as children’s needs, money worries, relationships or concerns about work.

However, too much stress can lead to a feeling of being unable to cope. Stress is not an illness itself, but it can cause serious illness if it is not addressed.

“Too much stress doesn’t just make you feel bad – it can also be bad for your health,” said Amanda O’Neill, Senior Health and Wellbeing Improvement Officer with the PHA.

“The good news is there are measures you can take to address it. When you are feeling stressed, it can be harder to solve problems and it can have a knock-on effect on everything you do.”



Common signs of stress include sleeping problems, sweating, loss of appetite, and difficulty concentrating. You may feel anxious, irritable, low in self-esteem, have racing thoughts, worry constantly or go over things in your head.

“There are some practical steps we can take ourselves to deal with stress,” said Amanda. “The key is to take positive action before stress really begins to have a negative impact on your health and wellbeing.”

Practical positive steps for dealing with stress:

  • Learn how to relax – listen to music or go for a walk, taking steps to unwind can help stop stress building up;
  • Eat well – during periods of stress it is more important than ever to eat well, healthy eating can have a positive impact on your emotional wellbeing;
  • Take regular exercise – being active can really help, so take a stroll, get out with the kids or with friends, or take the dog for a walk;
  • Talk to someone – talking about your feelings can really help identify what is causing the additional stress;
  • Work through your problems – taking steps to deal with your problems will make you better able to cope with them.



The PHA’s booklet ‘Steps to deal with stress’ which includes lots of practical ways of dealing with stress is available at

The Minding Your Head website also includes a directory of mental health services in Northern Ireland. For information visit

Stress Control classes which are funded by the PHA and delivered by Health and Social Care Trusts are held in various locations throughout Northern Ireland. Information on the classes is available on the Stress Control NI Facebook page at



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