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Almost half of Brits 'self-medicate' to deal with mental health problems, a new study suggests.
In a survey, 45 per cent of people said they were currently using at least one coping mechanism to deal with their mental health, while 60 per cent said they had done so at some stage in their life.
The findings indicate that one in five Brits use alcohol, over the counter drugs or illegal drugs to help cope with mental health problems, while others dealt with issues such as anxiety and depression through gambling, sex and food.
As many as 30 per cent of women also said they used over or under eating to cope with mental health problems.
The study was conducted by life insurance broker, LifeSearch, who surveyed 2,005 British adults in April, and while this may be a relatively small sample pool, the findings make for worrying reading.
As to why people self-medicate, a third of people who took part in the study said they do it to get a sense of control over their mental health problems. Yet, only 42 per cent of people said they had spoken to their partner about their mental health. Indeed, 12 per cent said they were uncomfortable talking to anyone about their mental health.
Only around half of people who said they relied on self-medication said they considered it to have become a problem.
Encouragingly, 38 per cent of people said they used exercise to help maintain their mental wellbeing, but one in 10 said they exercised to excess to get away from their problems.
Emma Walker, from LifeSearch, warned that using coping mechanisms ultimately doesn't help people fix their problems.
She said: "While awareness of mental health is higher than it's ever been, we're seeing a gap between understanding and action.
"Many people don't realise that their relationship with things like alcohol, drugs and exercise can be tightly related to their mental wellness and, alarmingly, when they do they can be too afraid to talk about it.
"Often, using a coping mechanism like alcohol or drugs seems like the easy way out, however it doesn't solve the issue at hand."
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