This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week and throughout the week we have been sharing information on this year’s theme of anxiety. 

We have concentrated a lot on the affect anxiety can have on our young people but anxiety can also be a challenge for our adult volunteers.  We all feel anxious from time to time. Anxiety is a natural response to the uncertain world around us. For example, in the current cost-of-living crisis, more than a third of adults feel anxious about their financial situation. 

For some people that anxiety can begin to affect their day-to-day lives and stop us doing or enjoying the things that we want to. 

 

We sat down with Martin Elliot, Regional Commissioner for South East Scotland Scouts, to find out more about his experience living with anxiety and what he finds helps him to manage it. 

Why do you think it is important that people can talk openly about anxiety?

For too many people there is still a stigma or a shame attached to talking about their mental health. Statistically, this is even more prevalent amongst men. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I am nervous about sharing some of my story which I have only shared with a small number of people previously. But I believe strongly that as volunteers in Scouting we set an example for our young people and if by talking openly about my own experiences I can make a small dent in the stigma and help one volunteer or young person then it is worth it. 

What does anxiety affect your life?

It is important to emphasise that there isn’t a standard set of symptoms that all anxiety sufferers experience so how it affects me will not necessarily be the same as  how it affects someone else. 

One for the hardest things for me is that the effects compound. What do I mean by that? For me, one of the worst symptoms is a fear of failure – in particular of letting others down – and this can be crippling at times. This makes it really hard to be productive which only worsens the fear of failure.

How long has anxiety been part of your life? 

Looking back I cannot remember a time when it hasn’t been part of my life but when I was younger I didn’t recognise that how I was feeling was any different to others. It was only in later years when dealing with my grief in the aftermath of my son Jamie’s death that the combination of this with my anxiety led to physical as well as mental symptoms that I was diagnosed with anxiety and received support. 

Does Scouting help you to look after your mental health?   

Yes, definitely. 

One of the best ways to look after my mental health is to talk. I am fortunate that in Scouting I have found a community where I feel that I belong and where I have made many friends who I have felt able to talk to about my mental health and who have helped with the challenges that I have faced. 

Further Information

You can find out more about anxiety on the dedicated section of the UK Scouts website. 

If you are struggling with anxiety we would encourage you to reach out to your GP. In addition, the following charities offer support for anxiety sufferers: