October was mental health awareness month and depression and other mental health illnesses have increased in prevalence during the pandemic. In 2020, 41 per cent of adults felt symptoms of anxiety and depression, compared with 11 per cent in 2019 (CSO.ie, 2021).

In September 2020, United Drug and its three sister companies voted on who the next charity partner would be. The response was overwhelmingly in favour for AWARE, your supporting light through depression, showing that as a collective, they value the importance of mental health in the workplace and in daily life. From this, United Drug and allies have committed resources to raise awareness for the valuable resources and support available from AWARE and fundraise to support the same.

AWARE seeks to create a society where people affected by stress, depression, bipolar disorder and mood related disorders are understood, supported, free from stigma and are encouraged to access appropriate therapies.

AWARE aims to achieve this vision through support services, programmes, information and resources for those suffering and family members of those with mental health concerns. This support includes a dedicated support line, support mail and support and selfcare group services.

Evidence of an increased demand for AWARE’s support line was shown in 2020, with a 36 per cent increase in support line calls in 2020, with peaks of over 80 per cent increases in the early days of the pandemic. This demand has been a sustained into 2021, with almost 16,000 calls being received into the support line in the first six months of the year.

AWARE can’t provide these vital support services without access to resources. To align with AWARE’s mission and support their vision, United Drug, LloydsPharmacy, TCP and Median Colleagues joined forces to Hike
for AWAREness in September and October.

For this initiative, the challenge level was stepped up: Hiking up Galtymore Mountain in Co Tipperary, or completing a 14km trek up to the Spinc at Glendalough Co Wicklow, because we know that dealing with depression and other mental health concerns is not a ‘walk in the park’. Sometimes it feels like climbing a mountain in weather so bad you can’t see the summit, as our team climbing Mt Galtymore experienced.

Or, it takes longer than you thought it would, like the teams hiking in Glendalough experienced on their four-to-five hour route to the Spinc. That’s the real challenge of dealing with mental health challenges; it takes endurance.
The group hikes were also a great opportunity for colleagues to safely reconnect after, in some cases, as much as
18 months away from the office. The teams embodied what it means to come together and win as one team. Well
done to all who participated; great team spirit was shown indeed.

United, they showed that when asked, they show up, no matter what the weather or the challenge, to rally behind the goal of improving mental health across the Republic of Ireland. Fundraising for AWARE is continuing, with colleagues taking initiative to complete their own challenges into October for Mental Health Awareness month. Other members from across UD/LloydsPharmacy/TCP/Median are also doing their own challenges. To join us in support of a good cause, you can donate today via the corporate charity site:

https://mckesson.blackbaudsites.com.
REFERENCES: https://www.
cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-sic19wbg/socialimpactofcovid-19surveyfebruary2021well-being/