According to the World Health Organization, mental health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”1

What is Mental Health? (3.39)

Physical and mental health are interrelated: in order to be healthy you need to also be mentally healthy. We all deal with challenges—this is a part of life. However, it is important to be able to acknowledge and recognise how we react and feel about these challenges in order to deal with them in an appropriate way.


We all get anxious from time to time; this is normal. Everyone gets butterflies in their stomach before a big exam or an important sports event or even when there is a loud clap of thunder. This is called threat response anxiety. It is your body reacting to a perceived threat and deciding what to do to keep you safe. It is a personal warning system that alerts you when you need to be careful or cautious. In manageable doses, anxiety can help you to deal with challenging situations, for example, getting you to spend more time studying. However, some experience these situations with debilitating fear and dread.

Even though anxiety can be uncomfortable or upsetting, it is not automatically considered to be an illness. However, anxiety can become an illness when it becomes excessive, such as when you have an irrational dread of everyday situations and/or when it stops you from carrying out your daily tasks.

Group activity:

Watch the video clip and discuss how the brain reacts to anxiety.

Why Are You Anxious? (3.46)

According to the World Health Organization, anxiety and depression increased globally by 25% in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.2

Coping with anxiety

When we experience anxiety the amygdala, the part of the brain that becomes aware of a potential threat, responds and causes our bodies to react to the threat. During this process, adrenaline and cortisol are released which can cause various responses in your body, such as increased heart rate, rapid breathing, dilated pupils, shaking and other effects.3

In order to cope with anxiety it is important to learn relaxation techniques. One of these techniques is deep breathing, which research has proven works wonders.

Our lungs are covered in nerves that exist to tell the brain that we are not getting enough air. When we have an anxiety attack, it may feel as though we are struggling for breath. The slow-adapting pulmonary stretch receptors in our lungs are activated when we start breathing deeply and this activation sends a message to the brain to turn off the alarm that made us anxious in the first place, thereby reducing our anxiety and allowing us to feel more relaxed.4

Listen to the podcast where Lisa Damour provides tips on how to counter anxiety by harnessing the connection between the lungs and the brain. We recommend the following time cuts: 11.54–16.35 minutes.

Lisa Damour On Anxiety

The MindShift CBT App uses scientifically proven strategies in developing steps in taking charge of your anxiety.

Mindshift CBT App

The theme for World Mental Health Day 2022 is Making Mental Health & Well-Being for All a Global Priority. The World Health Organization states: “We envision a world in which mental health is valued, promoted and protected; where everyone has an equal opportunity to enjoy mental health and to exercise their human rights; and where everyone can access the mental health care they need”.5


As a class, discuss ways that mental health can be valued, promoted and protected.

Important Dates:
24th World United Nations Day
30th Oct – 5th Nov WRAP – White Ribbon Against Pornography Week
October is Mental Health Awareness Month

If you are using the Achieve Careers LO Programme, the following information and activities are recommended:

  • GR 9 LO Manual – Section 2 
  • GR 12 LO Manual – Section 2 (pp. 34-37) 
  • Teacher’s Flash Drive – LO Resources – Mental Health folder


  1. World Health Organization. (2014) Mental Health: a State of Well-Being, [Online], Available: [26 Sep 2019].
  2. World health Organization. (2022) COVID-19 Pandemic Triggers 25% Increase in Prevalence of Anxiety and Depression Worldwide, [Online], Available: [10 Oct 2022].
  3. Nunez, K. (2020) ‘Fight, Flight, Freeze: What This Response Means’, Healthline, [Electronic], 12 Feb, Available: [23 May 2022].
  4. Lisa Damour. When is Anxiety a Disorder? When Does Sadness Become Depression?, [Online], Available: [23 May 2022].
  5. World Health Organization. (2022) World Mental Health Day 2022, [Online], Available: [10 Oct 2022].
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