Barnsley Council is speaking up about alcohol and mental health as part of Alcohol Awareness Week.
Run by Alcohol Change UK, a leading UK alcohol charity, Alcohol Awareness Week aims to get people thinking and talking about alcohol to motivate change. This year's theme is mental health.
A poll released earlier this year by Alcohol Change UK showed more than a quarter (28 per cent) of people who have ever drunk alcohol think they've been drinking more during lockdown. As lockdown eased over the summer, two in three (66 per cent) expected to continue drinking as they had been during lockdown (49 per cent) or even drink more (17 per cent).
One in five (19 per cent) of those surveyed said they'd 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 per cent had drunk as a response to stress or anxiety.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists estimates that more than 8.4 million people in England were drinking at higher-risk levels in June 2020 compared to 4.8 million in February 2020.
Councillor Jim Andrews, Cabinet Spokesperson for Public Health, said: "We're proud to be supporting Alcohol Awareness Week again for 2020.
"Figures show that drinking has increased as a result of the pandemic and we expect this to continue leading into Christmas, which is usually a period of increased levels of drinking.
"There is a clear link between alcohol and mental health, and we want our residents to know that support is available for them if they have a problem with alcohol, their mental health or both.
"You can make a referral to our support services and get the help you need. There should be no stigma attached to accessing treatment, and we want to break down these barriers for our residents who need it most."
Dr Richard Piper, Chief Executive of Alcohol Change UK, said: "Many of us are under an unbelievable amount of stress due to the coronavirus 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."
You can search for the Try Dry app on your device's app store. For more information, or to take part in this year's Alcohol Awareness Week, visit Alcohol Change UK.
Support is available within Barnsley to those who are having problems with alcohol and their mental health:
- Barnsley Recovery Steps is a commissioned drug and alcohol recovery service dedicated to helping people be free from drug and alcohol dependency.
- The Umbrella service is a commissioned mental health service offering early intervention and prevention support.