Do you ever feel anxious? You’re not alone. Anxiety is of course a natural emotion that we all experience from time to time.

However, when it’s prolonged and intense, it can become an anxiety disorder that affects your day-to-day-life, and now it’s the most common mental health challenge in the UK.

That’s why anxiety was the topic of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

The purpose of this year’s campaign is to increase our knowledge about anxiety, and to reduce the stigma and shame that some people feel in talking about it.

Herts Advertiser: MP Daisy CooperMP Daisy Cooper (Image: Courtesy of Daisy Cooper)

I met representatives from the Mental Health Foundation in Parliament who are trying to promote their work.

Of course, everyone experiences anxiety differently. And I’ve seen first-hand from my constituency surgeries, how the causes can be complicated and how events in our lives can trigger it.

Negative life events, social isolation, stress about work or education, bullying and societal pressures (including those from online), financial pressures, caring responsibilities and hormonal changes like menopause can all contribute.

Sadly, a survey by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that almost half of people managing anxiety are keeping it a secret.

The survey also revealed that whilst nearly three quarters of us have felt anxious in the last two weeks, nearly every young person has done. Also, one in five of us feel anxious most, or all, of the time.

Unsurprisingly the cost-of-living emergency has emerged as the most commonly reported cause of feeling anxious this year, with those aged 35-64 most worried about their finances.

But there are solutions. Workplace schemes, parenting programmes and mental health support in schools and other education settings are proving really successful in supporting people when they first experience anxiety and preventing it from getting worse.

There’s also lots of support available. The Mental Health Foundation and Anxiety UK provide online peer support, anxiety management courses, a national helpline and even a 24/7 “Ask Anxia” chat bot to answer any queries you might have.

If you need urgent crisis support, you can speak to your GP or call 111, and if you or someone you know needs help in an emergency, you can call 999.

Remember: if you’re struggling, you’re not alone, and reaching out for help may be the best thing you’ve ever done.