This striking art installation in Waterloo shows what anxiety feels like
Anxiety is the UK’s most common mental health problem, with half of Brits experiencing it in the last five years.
Even so, there can be a lack of education around symptoms to help people identify what they’re experiencing.
To help bridge the knowledge gap, an AI art installation that was created using quotes of anxiety symptoms has appeared outside London Waterloo.
Sahara Patel, 29, described her anxiety as ‘like cling film had been wrapped tighter and tighter around [her] chest’, and this is one of the quotes featured in the exhibition.
She said: ‘I’ve suffered with anxiety since I was a child, but it wasn’t until I was much older that I looked for support from a counsellor to help me cope with my feelings.
‘Growing up, I had a hard time recognising my symptoms of anxiety but seeing my quote worked up as a piece of art has been cathartic. It’s captured my feelings perfectly and it’s visually striking as well.
‘I hope this campaign will resonate with people and get people to seek qualified help should they need it.’
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Ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) launched ‘Anxiety is…’ to prompt the public to recognise and address these feelings so they don’t suffer in silence.
Despite how common anxiety is, their research found only 26% of people would see a counsellor or psychotherapist to help cope with emotional difficulties or mental health problems.
BACP Chair, Natalie Bailey, said: ‘I’m sure these images will resonate with people currently living with anxiety symptoms and we hope they encourage people to seek help before these feelings become overwhelming and potentially even debilitating.
‘Counselling can help people explore the cause of feelings of anxiety, understand them and suggest ways of dealings with situations.
‘It’s important people seek support from a qualified therapist who is trained to offer a safe, confidential, non-judgemental place to explore and address these feelings.’
BACP has been calling for increased investment to improve mental health support access in a range of settings, such as the NHS, schools, third sector and workplaces.
‘Counselling changes lives and it’s important it’s readily available to those who need it,’ Natalie added.
How difficult is anxiety to spot?
According to Anthony Davis, BACP Accredited Psychotherapist and Coach, it’s very difficult to spot.
He said: ‘Anxiety remains the most common mental health issue in the UK and is certainly one of the most frequent issues clients come to me with.
‘However, its prevalence also means it is becoming normalised and accepted as a normal experience of everyday life, so people are struggling to recognise when they are suffering with anxiety and when to get help.
‘Anxiety manifests itself in different ways which is one of the reasons why it can be difficult for people to spot. It’s really important people prioritise their mental health rather than accepting common issues like anxiety as the norm.’
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