Since the global financial crisis of 2008 and the ensuing decade of ‘austerity’ many feel that our lives have become much more pressurised and our employment more precarious. In the summer of 2011 the country experienced riots where large groups of angry people took to the streets in waves of violence and lawlessness. More recently the number of people in work and having to go through the ordeal of using food banks has spiralled, creating a new Dickensian-sounding class of people, ‘the working poor’.

Some researchers have noted the fact that as a nation, we seem to be becoming more and more angry. One survey, by the Mental Health Foundation discovered that 64% of people agreed we are getting angrier, whilst 32% said they had a close friend or a family member who had problems controlling their anger. Worryingly, over half had no knowledge of where to go to get help managing angry feelings.

It is quite understandable that in times of growing financial and employment uncertainty people tend to feel more anxious and more pressurised. As this anxiety becomes unbearable, this pressure is directed at those closest to the person, typically partners, parents, children or siblings bearing the brunt of the anger. Afterwards the individual may feel a relief their anxiety has reduced, but also the shame of their actions. Many will promise not to act in such a way again, whilst having no idea of how to stop the rollercoaster of anxiety and anger as it gradually increases.

At the Counselling & Mental Health Clinic at York St John University, I’ve been working to help people combat their angry, explosive emotions with a 10-week Anger Management programme. Participants come from all walks of life but have one thing in common: chronic angry outbursts which they find unmanageable. Research shows that people who complete the course can lower their anger to the same level as members of the public who do not show such extreme emotion.

In early June 2019 the anger management course will run once again providing an opportunity to learn how to manage angry feelings. If you are interested, please contact the Counselling & Mental Health Clinic.

Dr Gary Shepherd is a lecturer in counselling, coaching and mentoring at York St John University.

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