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This year, Mental Health Awareness Week starts today, 14 May, with a focus on stress. 

Around 16 million people are affected by poor mental health every year and stress often plays a key role in making things feel worse. Stress can be defined as the degree to which you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of pressures that are unmanageable.

All sorts of situations can cause stress. Some of the most common involve work, money matters and relationships with partners, children or other family members. Stress may also be caused either by major upheavals and life events such as divorce, unemployment, moving house and bereavement, or by a series of minor irritations such as feeling undervalued at work. Sometimes there are no obvious causes. Some stress is normal but too much can be harmful.

Dr Ellen Wright, a local GP and chair of NHS Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

"Physical health and mental health are often linked. For example, people recovering from a heart condition or cancer may also feel depressed or anxious.

"Feeling stressed can be part of everyday life. It can help you take action, feel more energised and get results. But when you're overwhelmed by stress it may lead to mental health problems or make existing problems worse.

"Noticing what's making us stressed helps us to learn how we can deal with it. Even if you can't avoid certain situations, being prepared can help.

If you are worried about your mental health, you should make an appointment to speak to your GP.

In Greenwich, local people can also access a service called Time to Talk, part of a national programme known as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies.

People can be referred to the service by their GP or self-refer themselves for mild problems of anxiety or depression. It offers practical advice about simple measures people can take to improve their mood, deal with stress, anxiety and improve their wellbeing.

To access the service, visit: http://oxleas.nhs.uk/advice-and-guidance/greenwich-time-talk-iapt1/

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency and is not already known to local mental health services, call the Oxleas 24-hour Mental Health Urgent Advice Line on 0800 330 8590.

If it is a crisis and you or someone you know are in need urgent assistance, you can also visit your local A&E department.

For more details on accessing mental health support through the NHS, click here.

For more details on stress, symptoms and things that you can do to help yourself, click here.

More information about Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 can be found at: www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week