Exploring alcohol and mental health, for Alcohol Awareness Week 2020

The Alcohol and Drug Service which delivers services as a part of the East Riding Partnership and Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, wants to reinforce the message that help is available for anyone concerned about increased alcohol consumption, especially during lockdown.

This year’s theme for Alcohol Awareness Week is alcohol and mental health.
This year’s theme for Alcohol Awareness Week is alcohol and mental health.

Around 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year and drinking too much, or too often, can increase risk. There is a strong connection between alcohol and poor mental health, yet despite this, alcohol has been described as the UK’s favourite coping mechanism.

As a psychoactive substance, alcohol radically changes thoughts and feelings. At first it releases Dopamine “The Happy Hormone” and to maintain that feeling, requires more alcohol. However, by continuing to drink, the dopamine high will eventually be pushed aside by the less pleasant effects such as confusion, clumsiness, nausea and dehydration. All of which in turn can lead to higher levels of anxiety. 

A CIPD employee survey, published this year, reported that 27% of employees said their alcohol consumption had increased during the Coronavirus pandemic. With lockdown 2.0 and possible further lockdowns looming during the winter months, these figures are likely to increase further.

PODCAST: Exploring alcohol consumption and its affect on mental health.

PODCAST: 23 minutes.

In this HULL IS THIS podcast, editor Jerome Whittingham is joined by Laura Jarvis, Senior Development Manager at The Alcohol and Drug Service, and Paul Longley, Mental Health Trainer at Hopen and facilitator of Andy’s Man Club in Hull.

We talk about the mental health impacts of consuming too much alcohol, how much is too much, what strategies and coping mechanisms we can adopt to take control of our drinking, and what professional help is available to those who are worried about excessive alcohol consumption.

Laura Jarvis is Senior Development Manager at The Alcohol and Drug Service and provides workplace alcohol support, through Generis.

She explains:

“Alcohol Awareness Week has a timely theme with the world in the grip of a pandemic and more people feeling isolated, anxious and stressed.

“The number of individuals presenting to our service more than doubled between March and August this year and now with lockdown 2.0 and further restrictions likely to carry on for some time yet, we expect demand to continue.

“For some people increased alcohol consumption can be a very serious problem. Drinking heavily can lead to major life and health problems and it can happen to anyone. However, we want local people to know that there is a way out.

“Taking practical steps to reduce alcohol intake can be as simple as drinking from a smaller glass, making a commitment avoid that second glass of wine, check the %ABV of the alcohol you drink and choose a lower alternative. It may also be useful to find other hobbies and interests to occupy your time, go out and get some fresh air, take a bath, read a book. You will certainly feel the benefits of reducing alcohol use and breaking the habit.

“We also recommend taking our online screening test – a quick and confidential way to find out how harmful drinking habits might be and, if needed receive personalised online support from a specialist.

“Public Health England recommends a maximum of 14 units, spread out across the week. This equates to approximately one and a half bottles of wine. However it is not uncommon for individuals who seek our help to be exceeding 30 units per day. It creeps up and before long, it becomes difficult to stop or cut back.

“Finding other ways to cope without seeking professional support can be difficult. If this is you, please reach out for help.”

Check if you are drinking too much, complete the questionnaire here: https://ads-uk.org/alcohol-questionnaire/

Website: The Alcohol and Drugs Service.

Website: Hopen, workplace wellbeing.

[Jess Clark – Divine Clark PR]