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Mental Health Awareness Week
Published on 30 April 2017 by Marie Clare Mendham, Consultant Psychologist, updated on 03 May 2017
Out of all the “awareness" days and weeks there are, this is probably the closest to all our lives - Mental Health Awareness Week, taking place between 8th – 14th May, 2017.
This year the theme is ‘surviving or thriving’, with an important message that we don’t just have to survive life!
Are you someone who just gets through life and like so many, pays attention to your physical self, whilst ignoring your emotional self? How many of us say we are fine when we don’t mean it and really want to say, “I feel sad, lonely, lost or confused ". Or struggle to sleep, forget things or find it hard to let go, feel anxious, low or agitated?
Well then maybe you are not fine, and the next time you ask yourself or someone asks you, maybe you should talk, as you may be experiencing a mental health problem. Mental health problems can affect the way you think, feel and behave. They affect around one in four people in Britain, and it’s rising, ranging from common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A mental health problem can feel just as bad, or worse, as any other physical illness – only you cannot see it.
There are a lot of different approaches to how mental health problems should be diagnosed, what causes them and which treatments are most effective. Unfortunately there is still widespread stigma and discrimination towards people with mental health problems, and misunderstanding about what different diagnoses mean. ‘Mental Health Awareness’ week aims to try and break down the barriers and stigma attached to mental health by promoting, “It’s Good To Talk”, whether you are young, old, male, female, from any culture, religion, sexuality, economic status or intellectual capacity.
What are mental health problems? Mental health problems range from the worries we all experience as part of everyday life, to serious long-term conditions. The majority of people who experience mental health problems can get over them, or learn to live with them, especially if they get help early on.
Symptoms Most mental health symptoms have traditionally been divided into groups called either ‘neurotic’ or ‘psychotic’ symptoms. ‘Neurotic’ covers those symptoms that can be regarded as severe forms of ‘normal’ emotional experiences such as depression, anxiety or panic. Conditions formerly referred to as ‘neuroses’ are now more frequently called ‘common mental health problems.’ Less common are ‘psychotic’ symptoms, which interfere with a person’s perception of reality and may include hallucinations such as seeing, hearing, smelling or feeling things that no one else can. Mental health problems affect the way you think, feel and behave. They are problems that can be diagnosed by a doctor and are not personal weaknesses.
How do mental health problems affect people? Anxiety and depression can be severe and long lasting and have a big impact on people’s ability to get on with their life. Although certain symptoms are common in specific mental health problems, no two people behave in exactly the same way when they are unwell. Many people who live with a mental health problem, or are developing one, try to keep their feelings hidden because they are afraid of other people’s reactions. Many people feel troubled without having a diagnosis, or diagnosable, mental health problem - although that doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling to cope with daily life.
Physical Health and Mental Health
A clear distinction is often made between 'mind' and 'body'. But when considering mental health and physical health, the two should not be thought of as separate. Poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health problems. Similarly, poor mental health can negatively impact on physical health, leading to an increased risk of some conditions.
Some things we can do to improve our mental wellbeing include:
• Eating Well
• Drinking sensibly
• Doing things you enjoy
Take a break, talk and don’t be afraid to ask for help as good mental health is something that matters to us all!
To book an appointment with Marie Clare Mendham please call 0800 852 1234.