Today marks World Mental Health Awareness Day, and it’s one of the most important awareness events of the year. In the last few years, mental health awareness has dramatically improved, meaning that people who for too long have suffered in silence, are now getting the help and treatment they need.
Several recent studies have shown a strong link between exposure to excessive noise levels and poor mental health. Even small increases in the level of ambient noise can have a significant effect. In 2011, it was reported that scientists studying people living near seven major European airports found that a 10-decibel increase in aircraft noise was associated with a 28% increase in the use of anti-anxiety medication. Another piece of research found that people living in areas with high levels of traffic noise were 25% more likely than those living in quieter areas, to develop depression.
Recent figures from the Health and Safety Executive in the United Kingdom estimate that roughly 10% of the UK population suffer from work-related hearing problems, which could consist of tinnitus, hearing loss and/or hyperacusis. All of these conditions have been shown to lead, in many cases, to feelings of social isolation and loneliness, due to sufferers feeling as though they are unable to interact with other people properly.
Newer research has also suggested a link between excessive noise exposure and Alzheimer’s disease.
If you or someone close to you is suffering, there are plenty of things that can be done to relieve the symptoms of poor mental health. Sometimes taking a little time out can be essential for our wellbeing, so don’t ever feel guilty for it. Try learning something new or setting yourself a challenge. This can help to boost your confidence and can give you a sense of achievement. Exercise is also a great way to lift your mood.
When it comes to noise and mental health, there are so many things you can do to try to avoid it becoming an issue. Something as simple as turning your headphones down a few bars can make a huge difference. If you’re finding that you’re being disturbed by nuisance noise, be sure to speak to the correct authorities and ask them to look into it. We all have a right to live undisturbed lives. You might think that nothing can be done, but trust me, there is always something to be done about excessive noise. If you’re concerned about noise in your workplace, speak to your head of health and safety. They should be providing you with the appropriate hearing protection for the work you do, which will make all the difference.
If you’re feeling particularly low, sometimes just spending time with friends and family can be all the therapy you need. However, if you are finding things really difficult, reach out. There are so many people out there that want to help you, all you have to do is ask. For anyone who doesn’t know where to start, start here: https://www.mind.org.uk/
In the words of one of my brilliant colleagues:
“Always remember: you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”