Why taking control can help improve your mental health
The novel coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone across the globe, there’s no doubt it has been a difficult time for us all. Data from across the UK evidences the impact it has had on our mental health, with 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental health problem each year and 1 in 6 experiencing a common mental health issue such as anxiety or depression every week. The NHS website states, “Concern about the coronavirus outbreak is perfectly normal. Try to focus on the things you can control”
One positive outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it has very much normalised testing and specifically self-testing. With most of us now reaching for a rapid antigen test (or LFT as some people call them) even if we haven’t got a sniffle – generally just to make sure we know our own negative COVID status and protect others.
When we launched our world-first CE marked BioSURE HIV Self Test, which at the time was the highest risk medical device to ever come to market, we faced a world of enormous scepticism, no route to market and a truly deadly virus that creates universal fear and stigma. It was our job (and continues to be) to normalise people testing at home, establish our credibility and the trustworthiness of our test and it remains our passion to drive the conversation about HIV and sex. By talking we all learn and after a conversation we generally feel much better
More than 6 years on we have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that people do want to know their own HIV status, on their own terms, and are more than capable of performing their own test, and understanding and dealing with their own result.
We already knew that one of the biggest weapons HIV has is the stigma that surrounds is, but we were astounded at the levels of self-stigmatisation people feel. Whether it is the legacy of many years of high profile mass media campaigns (remember the icebergs?), or perhaps it is the connection with sex, but we are contacted daily by those who feel shame and guilt surrounding their possible exposure.
What we have seen first-hand is that when people choose to take control and test themselves, it can create a huge feeling of empowerment. Owning the situation and assuming responsibility for your own testing, we know makes people feel in charge and a the end of the day, carrying around negative emotions is hard work and exhausting, so taking proactive measures can only be a good thing in helping those worried about their status to relive their anxiety and take ownership of their choices, putting themselves in charge.
Taking control of any situation is empowering, relieving anxiety and putting you in charge. For some it is a huge leap of faith and for others a simple choice as they simply do not have time to visit a doctor or send off a sample to a lab. Either way there is an emotional journey to be had and choosing to self-test, at home, at work, alone or with a friend or family member, puts you on a front foot. The negative emotional baggage of the past 18 months, has to be controlled and reversed, so they are replaced with confidence and optimism. Knowing you are taking care of your health and protecting that of others makes you powerful and helps gets you in the mindset to get on and make the most of life.
For those of you that know us, you will know how dedicated we are to giving you the choice of being able to test on your own terms – No labs, no questions, no waiting. We have also built a special feature into our test which means your negative (control) line can only appear if you added enough blood (the vast majority of tests do not have this). We believe this is absolutely critical in a self-test so that you know you have performed your test correctly and can trust your result. Another thing to put your mind at rest.
This World Mental Health Day is focussed on each of us doing one thing, so that collectively, together, we can change everything. Whether it is testing for HIV or understanding if you have protection against COVID-19, knowing your status can help you feel in control and make you feel more confident in the choices you make. Plus it also means you are part of the solution to ending the current global HIV epidemic and COVID-19 pandemic.
There is always a choice and we are proud to put that choice in your hands today.