17/11/2020 - Permalink

Alcohol Awareness Week: Speaking up about alcohol and mental health

Related topics: Adult social care / Coronavirus / Health / Partner organisations

It’s Alcohol Awareness Week (until Sunday 22 November 2020), a week when Alcohol Change UK aims to get people thinking and talking about alcohol, to motivate change at every level – individual, community and national. This year’s focus is on alcohol and mental health.

Alcohol Awareness Week graphic

Alcohol Awareness Week graphic

It’s been a difficult year for everyone and it’s not set to get any easier. A poll[i] released earlier this year from Alcohol Change UK showed that more than a quarter (28%) of people who have ever drunk alcohol think they have been drinking more during Lockdown. And as Lockdown eased over the summer, two in three (66%) expected to continue drinking as they had been during Lockdown (49%), or even drink more (17%).

What’s more, one in five (19%) of those surveyed said they had drunk alcohol as a way to handle stress or anxiety during Lockdown. Of those who drank more heavily during Lockdown (nine plus units on each drinking day), 40% had drunk as a response to stress or anxiety.

This is a worrying trend that is growing. The Royal College of Psychiatrists[ii] estimates that in June 2020, more than 8.4 million people in England were drinking at higher-risk levels, up from 4.8 million in February 2020.

So this week Shropshire Council is joining other councils and community groups across the UK for Alcohol Awareness Week – led by Alcohol Change UK  –  to raise awareness of the link between alcohol and mental health, to speak out about the issues and the stigma surrounding them, and encourage anyone who is struggling to seek the support they deserve.

Dr Richard Piper, Chief Executive of Alcohol Change UK, said:-

“Many of us are under an unbelievable amount of stress due to the pandemic. We’re seeing that those of us who are drinking more heavily are at real risk of worsening our mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, along with many other health conditions, as we turn to alcohol to cope.

“The good news is that being in control of our drinking can improve our mental health, and there are plenty of techniques out there for taking control if your drinking has got a bit out of hand, including our free Try Dry app.”

Alcohol Awareness Week provides an important opportunity for us all to:

  • talk about the issues around alcohol and mental health, helping us make more informed choices about our drinking
  • tackle the stigma associated with drinking, which can be significantly worse for those struggling with mental health problems as well as drinking problems
  • call for action to help those most in need, including the 200,000 children living with an alcohol-dependent parent or carer
  • help those struggling to seek support.

With drinking among heavier drinkers on the rise, Shropshire has joined this year’s UK-wide Alcohol Awareness Week campaign to raise awareness of the links between alcohol and mental health.

Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member with for adult social care, public health and climate change, added:-

“Whilst we know there is a clear link between excessive alcohol consumption and serious health conditions such as cancer and heart disease, we sometimes forget that it can impact on our mental health too.

“The pandemic has undoubtedly had an impact on many of us, in particularly our mental health and wellbeing. Whilst having a drink may help you feel relaxed, in the long run alcohol can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety, and make stress harder to deal with.

“Alcohol Awareness Week is a reminder for us all to think and talk about our alcohol consumption, in particular during this challenging time and with the festive season approaching. Big differences to our long term health can be achieved just by making a few small changes to our drinking habits.

“We have also produced a wide range of resources to support people’s mental health and wellbeing. You can find these on our coronavirus webpages here.”

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with an alcohol or drug problem, advice and support is available at Shropshire Recovery Partnership. You can call the team on 01743 294700 or visit https://www.wearewithyou.org.uk/services/shropshire/

Take part in this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week by visiting the Alcohol Change UK website.

Further information 

Alcohol Awareness Week

Alcohol Awareness Week is a chance for the UK to get thinking about drinking. It’s a week of awareness raising, campaigning for change, and more. This year the week takes place from 16-22 November 2020 on the theme of alcohol and mental health.

Coronavirus: website statistics update from Alcohol Change UK

Back in April, Alcohol Change UK reported a 355% increase in traffic to the ‘Get help now’ section of its website (in which the COVID-19 hub sits) compared to the same period the year before (10,499 between 23 March and 13 April 2020 compared to 2,309 in the same period in 2019).

The figures for the six-month period up to 23 September 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 are:

  • Get help now: up 173% (unique page views – 50,774 vs 18,610)
  • Website as a whole: up 81% (unique page views – 904,546 vs 500,202)
  • Over the six-month period our website has been visited by over 500,000 people (up 86% on the same period in 2019).

It’s vital that anyone who is struggling gets the support they deserve. Join in with this year’s #AlcoholAwarenessWeek campaign and help drive the conversation about alcohol and mental health.

For information on what’s happening in your community search the hashtag #AlcoholAwarenessWeek.

Find out more: www.alcoholchange.org.uk/alcoholawarenessweek

Alcohol Change UK 

Alcohol Change UK works for a society that is free from the harm caused by alcohol. It creates evidence-driven change by working towards five key changes: improved knowledge, better policies and regulation, shifted cultural norms, improved drinking behaviours, and more and better support and treatment.

Find out more: www.alcoholchange.org.uk/


For interviews with Dr Richard Piper and other members of the Alcohol Change UK team, contact:

Julie Symes – julie.symes@alcoholchange.org.uk

Maddy Lawson – maddy.lawson@alcoholchange.org.uk

[i] Opinium (2020), commissioned by Alcohol Change UK. Poll into how people in the UK have drunk during COVID-19 lockdown, and what their plans are as it eases.

[ii] Royal College of Psychiatrists (2020). News release: Addiction services not equipped to treat the 8 million people drinking at high risk during pandemic, warns Royal College.