SPECIAL FEATURE: World Mental Health Day 2014

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What is mental health?

‘A state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.’

What is mental illness?

‘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.

Mental health problems are usually defined and classified to enable professionals to refer people for appropriate care and treatment. But some diagnoses are controversial and there is much concern in the mental health field that people are too often treated according to or described by their label. This can have a profound effect on their quality of life. Nevertheless, diagnoses remain the most usual way of dividing and classifying symptoms into groups.

Most mental health symptoms have traditionally been divided into groups called either ‘neurotic’ or ‘psychotic’ symptoms. ‘Neurotic’ covers those symptoms which 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, not personal weaknesses.

Mental health problems are very common.’

Quick facts about mental health problems:

  • About a quarter of the population will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year, with mixed anxiety and depression the most common mental disorder in Britain.

  • Women are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men and about ten percent of children have a mental health problem at any one time.

  • Depression affects 1 in 5 older people.

  • Suicides rates show that British men are three times as likely to die by suicide than British women and self-harm statistics for the UK show one of the highest rates in Europe: 400 per 100,000 population.

  • Only 1 in 10 prisoners has no mental disorder.

  • Between 8-12% of the population experience depression in any year.

  • Between one and two in every 100 people experience a severe mental illness, such as bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia, and have periods when they lose touch with reality. People affected may hear voices, see things no one else sees, hold unusual or irrational beliefs, feel unrealistically powerful, or read particular meanings into everyday events.

For more information about mental health and mental illness, or to seek support, please visit:

http://www.mind.org.uk/

http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

http://www.samaritans.org/

http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/AboutNHSservices/mental-health-services-explained/Pages/accessing%20services.aspx

For a full list of helplines please visit:

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/mental-health-helplines.aspx

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