For one week each May, the Mental Health Foundation campaigns around a specific theme for Mental Health Awareness Week. Since the start of this initiative back in 2000, the foundation has pushed such topics as loneliness, anger, fear, exercise, alcohol and friendship into the public sphere. The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is anxiety, one of the leading causes of mental ill-health in the world and will take place from May 12th to 18th.

Anxiety is part of everyday life, and is experienced by everyone at some point in time. Anxiety disorders can seriously affect a person’s enjoyment of everyday activities, becoming an overwhelming force that prevents them from sleeping well, participating in activities, going to work or even leaving the house. Such disorders affect roughly one in 20 adults in Britain.

In June 2014 the Anxiety Arts Festival will explore anxiety, its causes, how it affects our lives and how it can act as a motivating force for creativity. Leading and emerging artists, musicians and performers will participate in an exciting programme of art, film, performance, music, dance, theatre and talks across London.

The success of Mental Health Awareness Week and the Anxiety Arts Festival – as with any charitable event – is largely down to the generous support the initiative receives from organisations and individuals throughout who are willing to get involved and raise awareness. This can take many forms, whether that be through publicising the scheme or organising activities and events.

It took me a while to decide what I wanted to do to support this worthy initiative. Eventually I decided that the best way I could help would be to write about the issue. Having reached out through social media I have met several individuals who both suffer with anxiety related illnesses and others whose job it is to care for them. Over the coming week I will be bringing you their stories through this blog. Some are harrowing while others are moving. Hopefully by the end of the week we will all be a little more aware of an illness that has for too long flown under the radar.

I would encourage you all, dear readers; to do anything you can to support Mental Health Awareness Week and the Anxiety Arts Festival. The Mental Health Foundation is an excellent organisation who are trying and succeeding in doing great work for those that really need their support. Here you can download a Mental Health Awareness Week supporter kit to help you get the most out of the week.

10 ways to look after your mental health and raise awareness to help change lives

We should all take time to rethink mental illness. And if you are someone that has suffered in silence then I would implore you to talk about your experiences as those on the blog will be doing so eloquently over the next few days. No longer should we, as a society, stigmatise those afflicted with mental illness. Instead we should all find the time to understand it and its affects on those that we hold dearest and support them to the very best our abilities.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the writer and this article does not constitute legal advice.