Alcohol Awareness Week is held each year to educate people around how to drink safely, the possible dangers of drinking too much or too often, and how to access support to help people who wish to drink less, or stop drinking alcohol altogether.
The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘Alcohol and mental health’, aiming to get people thinking and talking, discussing the link between the two, and the best ways to look after ourselves and those we love during a year of great change and uncertainty.
Around 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, but many of us are unaware of the link between alcohol and poor mental health.
Though it’s often the first thing we turn to when we’re feeling low or stressed, alcohol is a depressant. Drinking too much or too often can mask or enhance underlying mental health problems – such as anxiety and depression – and prevent them from being properly addressed.
With events in the community unable to be held this year due to coronavirus restrictions, activities and resources for this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week are instead being delivered virtually.
The council’s public health team, Your Housing, Warrington’s Youth Service, Change Grow Live (CGL) and Warrington Police will all be taking part in this year’s event.
Your Housing staff at Verve Place will be providing ‘mocktail’ recipes and kits for a virtual get-together, and will be discussing the relationship between alcohol and mental health. An alcohol-free pub quiz will also take place during the week.
CGL is hosting a range of virtual events throughout the week including:
- a mindfulness meditation session
- an interactive alcohol and mental health quiz
- a three hour ‘SMART’ (self-management and recovery training) meeting via Zoom, with a group check in
- a live alcohol and mental health Q&A session on Facebook
The Youth Service will be delivering a wide range of activities throughout the week. All youth workers will participate in answering questions put to them via an interactive Jamboard Q&A session relating to alcohol, including the effects on the body and understanding risk.
There will be an opportunity for young people to speak to a youth worker across the week for advice, information, screening, and referral. Young people can call 07921 321 216, Monday 16 November to Wednesday 18 November, between 6pm and 9.30pm.
Finally, there will be a virtual quiz for staff from the council’s Early Help service, to download and take part in increasing their knowledge about alcohol awareness.
The council’s adult services arts scheme, Creative Remedies, offers an alternative treatment for people, having or recovering from, mild to moderate mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. The team will be keeping the theme of the week’s discussions going in drop-ins and cooking group sessions.
Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, cabinet member for public health, housing and wellbeing, said: “We’re proud to be supporting Alcohol Awareness Week this year and in particular to highlight the relationship between alcohol and mental health.
“This past year has been a strain on everyone and you may find that you’ve have been drinking more alcohol than you usually would due to stress, anxiety or just because we’re all spending more time at home.
“It’s important to know the facts when it comes to alcohol so that we can drink responsibly and recognise if we are drinking too much, too often, or if drinking is worsening our mental health.
“We’re encouraging residents to get involved in the many free virtual activities happening this week, and to use the resources and services at your disposal if you want to make a change to your drinking habits.”
The council’s mental wellness website – happyoksad.org.uk – has many self-help resources and support services available to help you.