By Pam Lewis, deputy chief executive, Age UK South Lakeland:

GLOBALLY, close to one billion people are living with a mental disorder, three million people die every year from harmful use of alcohol and one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide.

If that wasn’t already bleak enough, now billions of people around the world have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which is having a further impact on an already dire mental health landscape.

This year’s World Mental Health Day, on October 10, was therefore more poignant than ever.

Despite these national efforts to encourage conversations about our thoughts, feelings and emotions, mental health is sadly still a taboo subject for many. Around one in four people will experience a mental health condition this year, yet the shame and silence can be as damaging as the mental health problem itself.

Simply put, your attitude to mental health could change someone’s life considerably.

Those with existing mental health conditions are facing additional challenges and triggers and may be having difficulty accessing their usual coping mechanisms or support.

Looking after ourselves and others has probably never been as important as it is now. Placing less pressure on ourselves, doing something each day that makes us happy, and making an effort to be a little kinder can help to manage our feelings.

Let’s all take the opportunity to consider how our actions can affect others, and take steps to positively influence the mental health of those we come in to contact with.

Increasing our understanding of mental health conditions, normalising the conversations about mental health, and remembering to always be kind will have much more impact than we may imagine.