There is often a lot of confusion about what we mean when we talk about mental health. Many people immediately start thinking about mental health problems or mental illness - but this is only one part of the picture. This blog posts hopes to explain this in more depth.
Firstly, everyone has 'mental health' and it can be thought of in terms of:
How we feel about ourselves and the people around us.
Our ability to make and keep friends and relationships.
Our ability to learn from others and to develop psychologically and emotionally.
Being mentally healthy is about having the strength to overcome the difficulties and challenges we can all face at times in our lives - to have the confidence and self-esteem, to be able to make decisions and to believe in ourselves.
It is quite normal to sometimes feel worried, anxious or upset when things are challenging - everyone faces pressure and difficulties at points in their life - however if these feelings start seriously interfering with our everyday life and they are persistent (i.e. lasting for a few weeks or more) then this might indicate a mental health problem.
Statistics show that 1 in 4 of adults living in the U.K. will experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem each year - that's a quarter of us! Statistics by the Mental Health Foundation also show that nearly 1 in 10 children and young people aged 5 to 16 are affected by a mental health problem.
A survey conducted by the National Centre of Social Research found the most common mental health problem was depression, with 19% of people surveyed saying they have been diagnosed with the condition.
The next most frequently reported conditions ever diagnosed were panic attacks mentioned by 8% and anxiety mentioned by 6%.
As with many physical health conditions, living with a mental health problem can also have an affect on other areas of the individuals life including:
Driving (and therefore independence)
Furthermore those diagnosed with a mental health problem are shown to be at a higher risk of attempting and completing suicide with more than 90% of suicides and suicide attempts having been found to be associated with a psychiatric disorder. What should I do if I suspect I'm suffering from a mental health problem?
The first step is to always seek the advice and support of your GP as a matter of priority. If immediate help is required and you are unable to see a GP, then you should visit your local A&E department. There is also support services and organisations that can offer help and support. I've listed these at the end of the blog. You may also find it helpful to talk to a partner, relative or a friend about your problems. Remember you are not alone.
What if you are worried about someone else?
You might wonder if it's your job to get involved, or whether your interference will just make things worse but if your worried about someone, you need to try and get them to talk to you. Ask open-ended questions like "how are you feeling..." Don't sorry about having the answers. Just listening to what someone has to say and taking it seriously can be extremely helpful. Encourage the individual to seek support (through the GP in the first instance) and be there for them should they need it. Never judge what they are going through or what they tell you. Also ensure that you access support if you need it at any point. Supporting someone with a mental health problem can be extremely challenging so get help for yourself if you require it. Useful Websites: https://www.samaritans.org https://www.rethink.org https://www.mind.org.uk